Saturday, February 17, 2024

Cardinal Woelki wants an inviting and serving church

Woelki targeted by media, bishops and now the police - Daily Compass

Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki from Cologne is calling on all Catholics to make their church more inviting, missionary and serving again. 

In his Lenten pastoral letter published at the weekend, he calls for a fundamental change of perspective in the Church and society. We should not primarily look back and focus on the negative, but forward and look at what we ourselves can contribute to a better future.

For example, according to Woelki, as part of a global and intergenerational community of the church, "in the face of dwindling resources and a worsening climate crisis, we should not ask ourselves how we can manage decline in an organised way". 

Instead, the question should be "how we can make decisions today so that decisions are still possible in the future".

The Archbishop of Cologne went on to ask: "How do we move away from a lifestyle that exploits resources at the expense of future generations and deprives them of the foundations for a future worth living? And how do we move away from structures and forms of organisation that already tie up too many resources today? How do we create new freedom to be able to organise in order to be an inviting, missionary and serving church today and tomorrow?"

Looking backwards does not help

Woelki cited other examples, including the major change processes in church communities, the many resignations and the crisis of confidence in the church, as well as hardship and suffering in society. With all of these topics, a romanticised or even bitter look back to supposedly better times does not help, but only "a great focus on today and tomorrow".

As far as the future of the church is concerned, it should not primarily be about structures and money, organisation and administration, Woelki continued. In this context, he reported on a "treasure chest" in which a number of believers had collected their wishes for the church.

It was not about structural and organisational issues. Instead, he found sentences such as: "I wish ... that we bring the Good News to life, ... that the next generation also finds a home in the church, ... that we focus less on the past ('everything used to be great') and more on the kingdom of God, ... that our congregations are lively and inviting, ... that we recognise Christ in our neighbour."