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Archbishop Meisner sees growing 'Catholic-phobia'

Published: 11 Feb 2013 06:34 GMT+01:00

Meisner’s archdiocese confirmed that he recently wrote a letter to all priests and lay workers serving under him.

“In the past few weeks, the Church in Cologne has experienced a public opinion storm unlike anything I’ve every seen in my years as bishop,” he wrote, according to the Kölner Stadtanzeiger newspaper.

He said Catholics faced increasing hostility after two Church-run clinics in Cologne turned away a rape victim last month. That incident came not long after the Church kyboshed an internal investigation into widespread allegations of child abuse at Catholic institutions in Germany.

The 79-year-old archbishop wrote that he regretted how both incidents had damaged people’s trust in the Church. However, he also lamented “the malice and aggression that part of the public confront us with.”

In particular, it was the Catholic Church’s clear positions on “protecting life, marriage and family” that polarized attitudes toward it, he said.

Meisner went on to cite “French scientists,” who “now view this phenomenon as ‘Catholic-phobia’ and point out that no other region or confession faces such targeted public attacks as does the Catholic Church.”

The letter comes on the heels of comments by Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller, who last week said there was “pogrom atmosphere” against the Church. Müller is in charge of the Vatican’s official doctrine.

Some members of the clergy, however, believe the Catholic Church is at least partly to blame for the current negativity against it.

“I do indeed feel there’s been an aggressive mood against the Catholic Church recently,” Essen’s Bishop Franz-Josef Overbeck told the Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung. “But such terms are not helpful in this debate, especially when they have historical connotations.”

DPA/The Local/mry

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

09:40 February 11, 2013 by josef050153
Meisner has the wrong perspective.

The catholic church persecuted for abut 1 000 years every other religious group.

Who ever sows the wind shall reap the storm (Hos8:7)
10:02 February 11, 2013 by yourkeau
Well, if the Church don't want to be attacked, they should separate themselves from the state completely. I can't believe there are still public hospitals and kindergartens run by the Church. But these institutions are funded by public money, so the Church should either provide services according to secular laws or sell these institutions to the government. That's it.
10:11 February 11, 2013 by kerosene60
It is amazing to me that the Catholic Church would not understand public sentiment. Priests all over the world have been sexually abusing children for decades,if not centuries. The Vatican protected them and is resisting efforts of American courts in Wisconsin to sequester their documents' based on being a foreign country. The Vatican position on birth control is and has always been out of step with the present realities. In 1945 the Vatican was instrumental in helping to smuggle Nazis out of Europe to South Africa and certain countries in South America. The Catholic Church continues to be more concerned about protecting itself as a bureaucracy than it is in protecting children. I think humanity needs to carefully consider how "being religious" is demonstrated in how we live our lives, how we treat one-another, how we practice our ethics; rather than being attached to a particular religious institution. If we survive as a species we will need to stop genocide, atrocities and prejudice in the name of religion.
10:38 February 11, 2013 by twisted
Well said, kerosene60 In addition, the "church" is nothing really more than a big business that exists due to the fear that they preach...if you don't believe (and contribute) you are going to hell, unless of course you are a child abusing priest.
10:41 February 11, 2013 by lucksi
Two negative incidents?

Great, if you group all the abuse into a single incident, then the Nazis also only had several incidents and who would hold that against them?

It's so great that my taxes pay for guys like him.
10:42 February 11, 2013 by michael4096
The biggest single problem that all religions have is that they are increasingly irrelevant. When they were central to people's lives they could, quite literally, get away with murder. Now, however, people look at exaggerated wealth and privilege and arrogance and they wonder...

It's one reason why I'm far more optimistic about islam than many posters here - give muslims an alternative and, like catholicism and protestantism, islam will implode from its own hubris.

(Which is of course only my opinion. And, before I get flamed by christians and muslims alike I am quite prepared to admit I might be wrong and that I'll respect the rights of others to hold differing opinions. Unlike many religionists and atheists alike, I do not believe in trying to force people to my way of thinking.)
10:47 February 11, 2013 by Englishted
Secularism in all state concerns ,education,health, welfare etc. is the only correct way ,if you want to waste you time on religion be my guest but do it in your own time with your own money.
10:59 February 11, 2013 by socalbremer
Perhaps those commenters here that are far more capable of philosophical elucidation than I can explain this personal confusion of mine:

One major religious group has a very active minority element dedicated to the conversion or cruel deaths of all others not of their belief, they are referred to as an aberration; at worst, a grotesque deluded group belonging to what is really just a "religion of peace" not at all represented by that violent minority and which deserves all our respect and piety.

On the other hand, another religious group has as well, a small minority of adherents who have committed sexual perversions and been protected by others from justice. For their sins, a whole church is popularly condemned. The "Catholic Church" is based upon teachings that truly are "of peace" and there are also well over a billion adherents to this faith.

Why is it that criticism seems always to be so blatant, defamatory and painted with such a wide brush when it comes to Christianity and not Islam?

As I alluded to in the beginning, I am not philosophically sophisticated, I merely read the written teachings of various religions and try to understand from them

how that belief system would have their faithful strive to live and behave.
11:12 February 11, 2013 by Firmino
I just have to "lol" at this.... Are they genuinely surprised people are increasingly fed up with their bullcrap? Seriously?
12:15 February 11, 2013 by M Australian
thou shalt reap as thou shalt sow
12:15 February 11, 2013 by michael4096
@socalbremer - OK, I'll bite

Whichever belief system - christian, muslim or atheist - they act the same. With absolute power they force "cruel deaths of all others not of their belief". With limited power they abuse it with "sexual perversions", for example. All the same, we agree, so why the difference in criticism different, you ask?

Is it really so different? Or, is it because of our own associations and the way we were brought up? Women are treated badly in islam but it's those mormons and amish not real christians who treat women badly. Homosexuals are killed in islam but its those funny africans not real christians who kill homosexuals. Muslims kill medical workers in Pakistan but only extremist christians kill abortion doctors, not real christians. Why is it never real christians? Because, we know many real christians, we were brought up with them, often related to them, maybe we are one - and real christians don't do those things!

When a muslim acts badly, well we don't expect anything else do we? However, when a real christian acts badly we are disgusted because we are able to differentiate. Criticism often reflects the criticizer more than the action.

@englishted - agree if you extend it to 'practicing' atheists - they are just as bad
12:31 February 11, 2013 by Sastry.M
When the transcendental human mind is deluded to attraction and lust for physical enjoyment, no religion can save it from its vagaries and no Sacred Institution can implore faith in its moral and sacred tenets, as along as individual human beings succumb to personal idiosyncrasies and fail to gain control over the mind to follow and implement the essence of sacred texts. Nobility is a sign of personal conduct rather than the display of sacred robes covering the physical apparition of human body.
13:27 February 11, 2013 by Margaret.Shiels
@michael4096

Well argued. Not much to add there except the matter of maturity.

By that I mean the age advantage that Christianity has over Islam. The latter seems to be making mistakes similar to those the former made in its "heyday". I'm thinking of those thousands of innocent women cruelly done to death by the Church hundreds of years ago.

Islam would appear to be following that lead. I think Muslims perhaps need a couple more centuries to catch up with our Enlightenment.

It comes down to reason. I find it difficult to reason with my Muslim friends in matters of belief. Too much brainwashing. My Christian friends, on the other hand, can certainly put up some good, reason-based arguments.

Still the vexed question of the birth canal of course. No manmade religion (and they're all man made) can come to terms with all its functions. No, magic babies are still with us.
14:26 February 11, 2013 by trevzns
Sorry Archbishop Mesisner. Phobia is the wrong word.

The behavior, policies and attitude of the Catholic Church are all well documented.
15:30 February 11, 2013 by Englishted
@michael4096

Don't remember rape victims being turned away from a secular hospital, or children being refused entry to their local secular school on grounds of religion ,or women's rights being downtrodden by atheists .

But maybe I'm out of practice too.
17:08 February 11, 2013 by michael4096
@Englishted - OK, maybe not 'just' as bad but there are many who wear their atheism as a religion and would force it down everybody's throat. As there are many religious people who believe in secularism in public affairs. Intolerance is not limited to religion.
17:09 February 11, 2013 by ChrisRea
@ Margaret.Shiels

It would have been great if Christianity would have stopped doing (significant) mistakes. Unfortunately, all the issues raised by michael4096 are happening now, in our times. It was Christians that shown no respect for human rights when refusing medical care to rape victims. It seems that brainwashing is still largely used by the Christian Churches. The good thing is that the trend is to reject the extremist religious views and that is happening in all religions.
17:22 February 11, 2013 by mitanni
@michael4096 I don't see people being hostile to the protestant churches or Christianity in general. There are many denominations of Christianity that are tolerant and have committed none of the crimes that the Catholic church is responsible for. People oppose Catholicism in response to its social and political agenda, its lies, the crimes committed by its officials, its unresponsiveness to its members, and its profound and unyielding arrogance.

Furthermore, insisting on a secular state is not the same as "forcing atheism down everybody's throat". In fact, the problem with Christianity in Germany is not that it is forced on anybody; quite the contrary: the churches are far less visible than the amount of public funding they get would suggest. The problem is that people are forced to pay for the churches and that churches are given huge political influence even though fewer and fewer people actually believe in it.
20:45 February 11, 2013 by wxman
Two wrongs don't make a right. Just because many of you are secular and irreligious, you must look for reasons to not be a member of the faithful. Yes, there have been and are bad priests, but they are just that, bad priests. Every human entity/organization has bad apples, but that doesn't by extension make the organization bad too. Religion is simply the vehicle by which humans try to reach their creator. I'm not talking about an old man with a long white beard sitting on a cloud. There is a sentient all-knowing being, an energy force, that created everything. It is to that being that we pray and give thanks to, not a bunch of men who run around in robes acting piously.
20:46 February 11, 2013 by Englishted
@mitanni

" In fact, the problem with Christianity in Germany is not that it is forced on anybody; quite the contrary: the churches are far less visible than the amount of public funding they get would suggest. "

Then I would ask you to find a place in a kindergarten or even ground school that is secular good luck in your search because there are none in my town.
22:35 February 11, 2013 by mitanni
@Englishted "Then I would ask you to find a place in a kindergarten or even ground school that is secular good luck in your search because there are none in my town."

And do you think that these church-run kindergartens and schools are charity? Do you think they are paid for by church taxes or church funds? In fact, they are not.

The fact that you can't find secular schools (and probably hospitals etc.) in your town is exactly the problem I'm getting at: these institutions are subsidized by general taxes and paid for by user fees, but they are controlled by churches, and they are then used by these churches to advance their political agenda and gain influence.
23:13 February 11, 2013 by Englishted
@mitanni

We are singing off the same song sheet .

Secularism for Germany.
23:18 February 11, 2013 by wood artist
With regard to the hospital incident, you have no one to blame but yourself. Your people took a position that would offend almost everyone, Catholic or not. In doing so, they got a response that was completely in line with the thinking of society. If you didn't like the response, don't try to make it some sort of grand conspiracy, because it wasn't. It was simply society telling you that...well...that you screwed up Big Time. DEAL WITH IT!

wa
03:16 February 13, 2013 by DOZ
Evil evil Evil (10 Characters)
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