“Doing what helps people to live”

The Archbishop of Bamberg Ludwig Schick © Nicolas Armer

Actually, hereditary bishop Schick did not want to become a priest, but a doctor. It turned out differently. At the age of 70, he still stands by the people, against populism – and every year again on the sports field to do the sports badge.

Interviewer: Are you now 70 years old. Naturally, one looks back on the past decades. Is it true that you almost did not become a priest but a doctor??

Archbishop Ludwig Schick (Archbishop of Bamberg): Yes, that's what I wanted. I had already made preparations and started doing the internships for medical school. But then, through reflection and conversation, the desire and also the vocation came through: I should become a priest. I think the good Lord intended it that way for me. That's how it turned out and that's how it's good.

Interviewer: Was there a specific trigger or was it more of a development??

Archbishop Schick: It was more of a development. I have thought about what I should actually do. Above all, it has always been important to me: I want to do something that helps people to live. You can do that as a doctor – even very well. But more appropriate to me and also more appropriate to my talents and also my vocation then seemed to me to help people also with the soul, with the spirit: That they come to a fulfilled life.

Interviewer: "He does not do things by halves."This is what a close friend said about you. One can also relate this to your current statements against any kind of populism. For this you are repeatedly insulted and attacked. What motivates you, then, to nevertheless position yourself so clearly and to speak out?

Archbishop Schick: It is important that people live. Populism always makes life narrow and restrictive. It also restricts relationships. Populism only allows certain people to be considered full people. As a Christian you have to be against that. The Christian has the mission and also the insight: All people are equal before God. All people have the same dignity – regardless of race, skin color, health and disease. All people should develop and find the fullness of life. Because populism constricts that, I am against it and one must be against it as a Christian.

Interviewer: In addition to your office as Archbishop of Bamberg, you are also Chairman of the Commission for the World Church of the Bishops' Conference. In this function you are often on the road in the poorer countries of the world. It also fits that you do not wish for personal birthday presents but for donations for your foundations: "Brot fur alle Menschen" and "Kinderreich". What kind of foundations are these??

Archbishop Schick: The one foundation "Bread for All People" is a foundation that wants to help people in the countries of Africa, Asia and Latin America to be able to grow their own food locally. We know from research that this is also the most important contribution to overcoming hunger in the world. This foundation would like to impart know-how on how to work well in agriculture so that production actually takes place. But then it also helps to erect buildings: for chickens and for other poultry, but also for water wells. It also helps when there is very concrete famine, for example in some refugee camps.

The other foundation is called "Familienstiftung Kinderreich". It helps families who really have a lot of children – four, five, six, seven children – in very specific situations of need. The foundation would like to purchase, for example, computers that are needed in schools today – it is no longer possible without computers – or furniture and home furnishings. Of course, it also wants to lobby for families with many children: for example, through symposia or other events where families with many children can come together and discuss ies with politicians. This is to bring the joy and also the worries of families with many children into the public eye, to spread more knowledge about them – and then help can also be given better.

Interviewer: You will be 70 years old tomorrow. I have read that you still do the golden sports badge every year and that you are a true master of jumping rope. So you look to the future fit as a fiddle and full of zest for action?

Archbishop Schick: Yes, I am fit – I can already say that. Of course, I am 70 years old, but I feel well and would like – if the good Lord gives me a few more years – to be there for his glory and to continue to care for the people. If it continues like this for a few more years, then I will be grateful and satisfied.

The interview was conducted by Moritz Dege.

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