“Sense of the church”

While the theologians' memorandum meets with rejection from Cardinal Meisner, the Archbishop of Cologne welcomes the "Pro Ecclesia" counter-petition. The petition exhibited what the memorandum lacked: "spiritual depth and sensitivity to the church," the cardinal said.

It was good for the bishops to "experience the support of so many committed Catholics from so many different areas of the Church and society," according to a statement released Monday (28.03.2011) published letter from the cardinal.

Secularization of the Kirc
In his letter, Cardinal Meisner renewed criticism of the theologians' memorandum "Church 2011: A necessary departure" that preceded the "Pro Ecclesia" petition. "With quite considerable media support, demands were made there that, on the whole, amount to a democratization and secularization of the church."A large number of the signers of the theologians' memorandum, the archbishop said, had teaching responsibilities just at the time when the crisis they lamented was taking shape and worsening.

"With sometimes frighteningly superficial prescriptions and demands, all of which are familiar from the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, they want to achieve today what failed so thoroughly in their time: the spiritual renewal of the church in Germany."

Pleas to the bishops
Joachim Cardinal Meisner assesses quite differently the second petition "Pro Ecclesia," which was launched on 8. February by believers in response to the theologians' memorandum had been published. "Rather than demands, it focuses on pleas to the bishops."

Representatives of the "Petition Pro Ecclesia" initiative had presented the bishops with some 14.000 signatures handed over. "This high number of supporters seems all the more astonishing given that while many media outlets eagerly disseminated the memorandum, they hushed up the petition," the letter states.

The cardinal used a comparison to point out possible approaches to change in the church. The church resembles a car "whose body is too big and whose engine is too small". "Consequently, we must first and foremost strengthen and enlarge the engine (the spiritual power) before we repaint, redesign – or even dent – the bodywork (the structures and procedures).

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