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Posted in World Catholic News, World News, on December 7th, 2012

Berlin Archdiocese to restructure for administrative, spiritual reasons

By Jonathan Luxmoore
Catholic News Service

OXFORD, England (CNS) — Germany’s Berlin Archdiocese has announced plans to merge its parishes into larger “pastoral areas” and pool its institutional resources in the face of falling church membership.

“This isn’t just an administrative reform — it’s also a spiritual one,” said Stefan Forner, archdiocesan spokesman.

“The era of a popular folk church is over, so we’ve had to reshape our structures. It’s no longer normal for children to be baptized and for schools to provide religious classes. These changes have been under way for decades, and they’ve generally occurred a bit earlier in Berlin.”

“The era of a popular folk church is over, so we’ve had to reshape our structures. It’s no longer normal for children to be baptized and for schools to provide religious classes. These changes have been under way for decades, and they’ve generally occurred a bit earlier in Berlin.”

The reorganization was unveiled by Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki in a Dec. 2 pastoral to 105 local parishes.

In a Catholic News Service interview Dec. 6, Forner said the move had encountered “mixed reactions” but been necessitated by demographic changes in the Catholic population.

“Although every German diocese faces similar problems, the consequences vary — some have closed parishes, while others have kept them open,” Forner said. “But Catholics must realize it’s now up to them to find their own place — to see what’s happening around them and find ways of working with each other.”

Berlin was the capital of East Germany under communist rule, and the archdiocese includes parts of the eastern states of Brandenburg and Mecklenberg-Vorpommern, although 80 percent of its 396,000 registered Catholics live in the German capital.

In 2003, Cardinal Georg Sterzinsky appealed for funds when the archdiocese revealed it had run up debts of $140 million after the 1989-90 reunification of East and West Germany.

In 2009, the archdiocese confirmed it had closed or merged half its parishes and sold off unused churches, as well as laying off 40 percent of its clergy and staff.

The German bishops’ conference, which relocated from Bonn to Berlin with the federal government in 1999, supervised a $39 million aid package for Berlin from other Catholic dioceses.

In his pastoral, Cardinal Woelki said the archdiocese’s finances had “stabilized and improved” thanks to “courageous and responsible decisions” and “great sacrifices” by church institutions.

However, he added that the archdiocese was forecast to lose a further third of its membership by 2030, and he said Catholic schools, nurseries, hospitals, elderly homes and information centers would also be reorganized to reflect a “diaspora experience.”

“Closer coordination will relieve our parish communities and make it possible to profile different locations for their potential in church music, youth and family work, and social and charitable activity,” the cardinal said.

“The charisma of priests and pastors will be better oriented than before, so everyone can use their special gifts in sacramental ministry, catechesis, pastoral work, and so church life can be networked through small spiritual cells living by the Gospel,” he said.

The cardinal said the number and location of pastoral areas would be decided in coming months, but added that celebrating the Eucharist would remain at their “heart and center.”

The reorganization is the latest of several by German dioceses and follows plans by the Vienna Archdiocese in neighboring Austria to cut its parishes from 660 to 150 in the face of dwindling clergy and laity.

Forner said the situation in Vienna was “completely different” than that in Berlin.

He said Catholics made up just 9 percent of the Berlin population, compared to 80 percent in Vienna.



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2 Responses

  1. In the book, “Animus Delendi-I Desire to Destroy” by Atila Sinke Guimarâes, gives the correct description to the “springtime of hope” and that is to destroy Catholicism, to destroy the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. The ‘People of God” church have no horror for sin and loss of Eternal Beatitude. They observe and follw the disobedience of the presiders claimed priests. Assisi Prayer Meetings claim universal for all at the moment of life. There is no need of the graces from Sacraments, there is no need for the Catholic Church, so it teaches. What’s to fear?

    By: Lu Adams on December 13, 2012 at 10:10 am

  2. correction: “universal salvation for all”

    By: Lu Adams on December 13, 2012 at 10:11 am

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