Das internationale Interesse am Memorandum ist groß. Immer mehr Theologieprofessorinnen und -professoren aus den nicht-deutschsprachigen Ländern bekunden uns ihre Unterstützung.
(International interest in the Memorandum is huge. An increasing number of theology professors in the non-German countries are telling us of their support).
As of today, the count of theologians in German-speaking areas signing the reform petition to Rome stands at 254.
In my view, one of the most significant aspects of this document is its opening statement, which notes that, as theologians, those drafting and signing the document recognize their important pastoral responsibility to address a moment of serious crisis in the Catholic church in Germany. In the past year, the numbers of Catholics officially resigning from the Catholic church in Germany and Austria were at record levels. As the theologians note, if this situation is not addressed pastorally–and by dialogue between church pastoral leaders, theologians, and the laity–the church will in all likelihood not recover from its present crisis.
It is fascinating to me to watch the ill-informed and twisted reaction to this eminently pastoral document in the circles of the American religious and political right. Increasingly, right-wing American Catholics are taking their talking points from websites of the political and religious right, which are without any knowledge at all of the role theologians play in the Catholic church–and, in this case, of the demanding requirements for receiving a degree in theology in Germany.
The silly ad hominem attacks among those of the American political and religious right, which try to question the expertise or credentials of these German theologians are astonishingly ill-informed. German theologians are among the most rigorously trained in the world, and as with all professions in Germany, they go through a credentialing process that puts the credentialing of theologians in many other countries to shame.
There is also obviously little awareness among members of the American political and religious right that theologians play a significant function in the Catholic church as teachers called by the Spirit to assist the body of Christ in understanding scripture and tradition. The rather conservative Jesuit theologian Avery Dulles, who was made a cardinal, in fact wrote a classic article describing the teaching role of theologians as a second magisterium that works in tandem with that of the bishops of the church.
Most of all, it is difficult to understand the lack of any sense of pastoral responsibility among American Catholics who take their talking points from the religious and political right, and who seem oblivious of (or even gleeful about?) the serious crisis through which the Catholic church is passing right now, due to the pastoral malfeasance of its leaders. In nation after nation (Belgium, the Netherlands, Ireland, Germany, Austria, the U.S., e.g.) people are walking away in droves. By February 2008, the figures in the U.S. were appalling: one in three adults raised Catholic in our country had left the church. One in ten American adults is a former Catholic. If all those who have left the Catholic church in the U.S. were grouped into a church, that church would be the second largest denomination in the country.The German theologians are to be highly commended for showing the pastoral responsibility one would expect of any faithful Catholic concerned about the future of the church, and, in particular, from theologians.
- German Theologians Speak Up (Commonwealmagazine)
- Report to Pope Benedict about Irish Catholic Church: On Edge of Collapse (Bilgrimage)
- German Theologians’ Petition to Rome: More Commentary (Bilgrimage)
- German Theologians’ Petition to Rome: A Translation (Bilgrimage)
- More Commentary on German Theologians’ Petition for Reform (Bilgrimage)