Talks between the Archdiocese of Hamburg and the initiative "Hamburger Schulgenossenschaft" threaten to fail. At a special meeting, the church bodies voted "with a clear majority" against cooperation with the initiative.
This was announced by the Archdiocese of Hamburg on Wednesday. The committees advising the archbishop had seen above all the danger "that the cooperation would place an additional financial burden on the archdiocese and thus jeopardize the economic restructuring course," diocese spokesman Manfred Nielen said in response to a query.
Archbishop with final say
Archbishop Stefan Hebe has the final say. It is considered very likely that he will declare an end to the cooperation with the initiative, which wants to save the Catholic schools in the Hanseatic city that are threatened with closure. It will explain itself presumably on Thursday on a Pressekonfernz, so Nielen.
Hebe had announced in advance that he would follow the non-binding decisions of the committees. As the archdiocese announced today, however, the bishop also wants to take into account the opinions of the school boards, some of which had already publicly spoken out in advance in favor of cooperation with the "Hamburger Schulgenossenschaft".
Initiative reacts calmly
The initiative reacted calmly to the decisions: "The committee decision is first of all an internal decision-making process," spokesman Hinrich Bernzen told the Catholic News Agency (KNA). "We await the statements of the archbishop. He is our contact."
A total of six diocesan bodies met Tuesday evening: the Diocesan Pastoral Council, the Priests' Council, the Church Tax Council, the Diocesan Asset Management Council, the College of Consultors and the Priests' Conference. School committees include the principals' conference, the overall parents' representation, the overall students' representation and the overall employees' representation. According to the archdiocese, they also met on Tuesday or will meet in the course of Wednesday.
Precarious economic situation
The archdiocese had announced at the end of January that it would close up to 8 of its 21 schools in the Hanseatic city due to its precarious economic situation. 3 of the schools could be saved if the diocese received outside financial help, it said at the time. Since then, the initiative "Hamburg School Cooperative" has been campaigning for the preservation of all schools.
Both sides had agreed to cooperate after tough talks and announced possible schools for a first pilot project. On Sunday, the initiative presented a detailed concept for the cooperation. It was reportedly available to the diocesan bodies – along with statements from economic, legal and educational perspectives from the specialist departments of the diocese administration.
A report of the "Bild" newspaper, according to which the archdiocese is talking in parallel with other investors about saving the schools, the diocese spokesman did not want to confirm concretely. "But we will continue our efforts to find a solution for the three moratorium schools," Nielen said.