You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘diocese of augsburg’ tag.
Over the past week, there has been something of a changing of the guard in southern Germany, or at least the start of one. As the country’s youngest bishop was consecrated on 27 July, two senior prelates retired on the 30th and the 31st.
Bishop Florian Wörner was consecrated in Augsburg by Bishop Konrad Zdarsa (Wörner pictured at left at the closing of the consecration Mass). He is now one of Augsburg’s two auxiliary bishops. In his homily, Bishop Zdarsa addressed the new bishop:
As a direct representative of the bishop you will have the special responsibility to ensure the promotion of the new evangelization in our diocese. The Lord also calls you, like the prophet: Fear not!
God’s word is not only placed in your mouth and heart, but you are similar to the Incarnate Word in Baptism and Confirmation, and in conformity to your ordination as a bishop, you will act and speak in persona Christi.
You are chosen from the people for the people, not to rule for your personal honor, but to serve. Yes, perhaps not even to have appeal and success, but rather to lose them.
However it may be - if this you may be certain: you are chosen by God to help people to get to know God and be saved by the foolishness of preaching the word of the cross.”
Elsewhere in Germany’s south, two veteran auxiliary bishops retired. In Freiburg im Breisgau Bishop Paul Friedrich Wehrle did so after 31 years, and in München und Freising Bishop Engelbert Siebler finished 26 years as auxiliary bishop.
72-year-old Bishop Wehrle retires for health reasons. The archdiocese will be requesting a successor, as it tries to maintain three active auxiliaries in lieu of the dioceses size. Auxiliary Bishop Rainer Klug and Bernd Uhl remain to assist Archbishop Robert Zollitsch. Both Zollitsch and Klug are 73, so this retirement heralds an almost complete change in diocesan leadership over the coming years.
Bishop Engelbert Siebler retires for reasons of age, having turned 75 in May. He has been active as a teacher, leading the Commission on Schooling and Formation in the bishops’ conference from 2001 to 2006. Upon his retirement, Bishop Siebler receives both the Federal and Bavarian Order of Merit.
Over the past months, more than 7,000 page views per month have become standard, and so it was in June, when the total reached 7,690. As ever, thank you, dear readers, for your time and attention.
Without any further ado, on to the top 10 most read blog posts! No real standouts this time.
1: Adoro te devote, two versions and a translation: 91
2: New priests (and one to offer one of his first Masses in the Extraordinary Form): 82
3: Euro 2012 is gearing up, and Father Vlaar is at it again: 78
4: Letter to the German Bishops’ Conference: 77
5: Why am I Catholic?: 71
6: Nothing new under the sun – old heresies resurface: 66
7: Het probleem Medjugorje: 58
8: Ordination days coming up: 57
9: Council survivors: 56
10: Youth and new evangelisation as Augsburg gains an auxiliary: 47
Some have already found their way to the Paypal button in the sidebar. Once again, thanks so very much for your gracious donations!
As the slow generational shift progresses among the bishops of Europe, the Diocese of Augsburg in Germany gains an auxiliary bishop who will be the youngest in all of northwestern Europe, and the 12th youngest worldwide. 42-year-old Bishop elect Florian Wörner will join ordinary Bishop Konrad Zdarsa and fellow auxiliary Bishop Anton Losinger in the Augsburger curia.
Born in 1970, in the far southern Bavarian town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen, the bishop elect has most recently been serving as cathedral administrator of the Cathedral of the Visitation of Our Lady and the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Ordained in 1997, Bishop elect Wörner has worked as assistant priest in various parishes. He was named regional youth pastor for the Kempten region and headed the diocesan Youth Office since 2006. In 2009 he was moved to the cathedral. Since the first of May of this year, Bishop elect Wörner has in charge of the diocesan Institute for the New Evangelisation, something that almost certainly played a part in Pope Benedict’s choice to appoint him as auxiliary bishop. His consecration will take place on the 28th of July.
Bishop elect Wörner’s titular diocese will be Hierpiniana, located in modern Tunisia.
Photo credit: Bistum Augusburg
The east of this blog’s area of interest, that is.
Tucked away in the triangle formed by Germany’s borders with Poland and the Czech Republic is an interesting remnant of a once powerful ecclesiastical jurisdiction – or one of the remnants, one should say. The Diocese of Görlitz was created in 1972 as an apostolic administration to conform with the post-war borders in east and central Europe. Before 1972, this was part of the great Archdiocese of Breslau, stretching across parts of modern Poland, Germany and the Czech Republic, and split in separate parts following the Allies’ divisions of the Third Reich.
Now one of the smallest German dioceses with a mere 30,000 Catholic faithful, Görlitz runs the risk of being something of a lost child in the Church of the west. But good things have a tendency to be noticed, as became clear in July 2010, when Görlitz’s bishop, Msgr. Konrad Zdarsa, was sent to Augsburg, where his predecessor, Bishop Mixa, had just left amid much rumours and confusion. Bishop Zdarsa had been occupying the see of Görlitz for only three years when he was reassigned, so evidently he must have made good in the small diocese. But his departure did leave the good people of eastern Saxony and southern Brandenburg without a bishop.
Now, almost exactly a year later, a clergyman from Erfurt is sent east become a shepherd. Msgr. Wolfgang Ipolt is 57 and becomes the fourth bishop of Görlitz, with its 60-some priests, and 80-some religious. Bishop-elect Ipolt was until now the rector of the interdiocesan seminary in Erfurt, which also serves Berlin, Dresden-Meiβen, Magdeburg and Görlitz, as well as students from Lithuania, Poland and the Czech Republic. As rector of such a seminary, Msgr. Ipolt may be expected to have a similarly international outlook, especially eastward towards the great Catholic nations of Poland and Lithuania, but also to the fledgling Church communities in the former German Democratic Republic – communist East Germany. The new bishop, then, reflects the identity of the diocese: situated between past and present – the strong Catholic history of past Breslau and the future of the new dioceses in eastern Germany.
With this appointment, only Berlin remains vacant in Germany.
It may be the time of year when nothing much seems to be happening – unless you’re a Belgian bishop – and he may be about to leave for his summer residence in Castel Gandolfo, but Pope Benedict XVI has shown once again to be on top of things when it comes to appointing bishops in striken dioceses. First Bruges only had to wait a few months before seeing Msgr. De Kesel replace Bishop Vangheluwe, now Augsburg gets a new shepherd to succeed Bishop Walter Mixa, who resigned amid a storm of confusion and accusations to and fro. 66-year-old Bishop Konrad Zdarsa will go from Görlitz, where he was appointed only three years ago, to Augsburg. Let’s hope he gets along will with that diocese’s two auxiliary bishops and staff.
In a bit of random-yet-interesting trivia, Katholiek Nederland reports that the government of Bavaria has the right to veto any episcopal appointments in that state. Bishop Zdarsa passed their scrutiny, though.
Yesterday’s police intervention in the Archdiocese of Malines-Brussels now looks to have been excessively forceful. Not only didn’t the police find any ‘held back paedophilia files’, but in order to do that, they detained all Belgian bishops for nine hours. The bishops had gathered for their monthly meeting. Together with the personnel they were held in one room, forced to surrender their mobile phones and other communication equipment. Although the bishops have stated to have full confidence in the Justice Department, which is why they cooperated fully, to me this sounds as if the bishops are already considered criminals. The only thing lacking is evidence. A very worrying development.
But this, together with the disruptions in the German Diocese of Augsburg, where Bishop Mixa has now accepted his resignation and promised not to challenge it again, is what we can expect more of in the near future. The abuse crisis can lead to nothing else but a full overhaul of everything that helped in covering up the crimes. And that will mean resignations, police investigations and the like. But, as in all things, these need good reason and agreements between all parties to have full effect. If one party does not agree with a bishop’s resignation, we get an Augsburgian situation. If the Justice department ignores agreements made and decides to investigate cases which are many years old and thus subject to the statute of limitations, we get Belgian situations.
A major overhaul, with all the discomfort and chaos it entails, is a simple necessity. But it must be done right to have full effect. And that’s still not happening everywhere.
Translation of the press statement from the bishops, which I linked to above:
“The bishops of Belgium were present in the Archbishop’s house around 10:15 this morning, Thursday 24 June 2010, for the monthly meeting of the Bishops’ Conference. A short while later, around 10:30, members of the Justice department and police officers arrived with a search warrant. At the basis of this are said to have been complaints of sexual abuse within the territory of the archdiocese. More explanation was not given to those present, but immediately all documents and mobile phones were confiscated. No one was allowed to leave the building. Only at 19:30 was that lifted.
Everyone, both the members of the Bishops’ Conference and the personnel of the archdiocese, was interrogated. That was not automatically a pleasant experience, but everything was handled correctly. The bishops have always said that they have full confidence in the courts and their work. They underwent the search of this morning with the same confidence and that is also the reason why they will refrain from any comment at this time.
On the other hand, with Prof. Peter Adriaenssens, chairman of the ‘Committee for the investigation of sexual abuse in the framework of a pastoral relation’, they regret that all the files of the committee were seized during another search. This goes against the right on confidentiality which the victims who have contacted the committee have. An action like this seriously affects the necessary and exemplary work of the committee.”
I’ve been thinking what – if anything – to write about the case of Bishop Walter Mixa, the former bishop of Augsburg who stepped down following allegations of sexual abuse which proved to be untrue. There are now questions being raised about the very validity of his resignation. Some say it was a forced resignation, which would make it invalid, and others even see it as proof of a conspiracy within the higher echelons of the Church in Augsburg. Since it is unclear exactly what reasons for the resignation were delivered to Rome, and what the pope discussed with a number of high-ranking German bishops (including Archbishop Reinhard Marx of München und Freising, Archbishop Robert Zollitsch of Freiburg im Breisgau and Bishop Anton Losinger, auxiliary of Augsburg) in several occasions, it’s very hard to figure out who is right and who is wrong. But it does seem that these steps, taken, perhaps, in the eagerness to tackle the abuse issue, had unforeseen consequences. Openness and honesty, it would seem, never come without thoroughness and care.
In the mean time, Welt features an interview (in German of course) with Bishop Mixa, adding a personal dimension to this story of a much-maligned man.
As in other countries, the Church in Germany also suffers under the abuse crisis. One of the men in the centre of attention is Bishop Walter Mixa of Augsburg and the German military. Accusations against him do not deal with sexual abuse, but physical violence. Bishop Mixa has admitted having sometimes slapped pupils under his authority when he was a priest in a childrens’ home in Schrobenhausen between 1975 and 1996. He also said that an occasional slap was not considered abnormal at the time, something which will hold some truth. His accusers, however, talk of serious beatings they received, although Bishop Mixa claims not to know at least one of said accusers.
In a rather unexpected move, Bishop Mixa has now offered his resignation to the pope. Such resignations are usually always accepted. Why do I find this unexpected? Well, I was under the impression that Bishop Mixa was quite adamant about the inaccuracy of the allegations against him. But his resignation is perhaps understandable for the good of the Church in his diocese and in Germany as a whole. He has, rightly or not, become controversial.
But this affair also points to a disturbing trend: judging past events by modern standards. Slapping children in school is nowadays not done, and rightly so. In the past, and a fairly recent past at that, that was different. Of course, regular beatings are always unacceptable, at whatever time they happened. But a clip around the head is surely something different?