A bishop’s reflection on Advent is nothing new, but it becomes more interesting when the author is personally invested in what he says. For Archbishop Ludwig Schick of Bamberg, his appeal for prudence and calmness comes after a period in which he himself has been the target of verbal and written attacks – and even death threats – after he said in an interview that he saw no problem with the legal election of a Muslim president of Germany.
“The past months were dominated by many populist utterances, verbal and even brutal attacks, insults and distractions. There were violent shitstorms on social networks. Many words and actions in the Year of Mercy were very merciless. Prudence had disappeared. Many people suffered and have been damaged because of that, human relationships have been disrupted and the social atmosphere was poisoned. Personally, I also suffered from it.”
In a public debate, Archbishop Schick had said that the Church was obliged to accept the election of a Muslim president of Germany. “Anything else would not be supported by the Basic Law [the German constitution]”. The archbishop was subsequently misquoted in social media and so became the target of verbal abuse and even death threats.
In his message, which was addressed to friends and followers, but also strangers and enemies, Archbishop Schick speaks about Advent as a new beginning, or at least the start of the road towards a new beginning.
“Advent is in the first place the invitation to all of us to forgive and to reconcile; without forgiveness and reconciliation there can be no new beginning and no better future; that is true for all areas of life.
Advent then invites us to reflect, to start anew and to continue in a different way. Slowing down and silence are necessary in speaking and judging, and also when typing, posting or sending.”
Fifteen minutes a day, if possible more, to quietly listen to the voice within us is a good way to uncover the essence of our being again, the archbishop concludes his message.