At the kick-off on Saturday of the "Week for Life" initiative, sponsored by both churches, religious leaders said concern in today's society with one's external appearance and physical fitness was on its way to becoming a "health religion."
At an ecumenical service in Würzburg, the head of the German Bishops Conference, Heinrich Mussinghoff, said fitness was well and good, "but it's not everything."
"We have to be careful that we do not move toward an image of humanity that excludes the ill and disabled," he said.
Wolfgang Huber, Germany's top Protestant Bishop, said while the salvation of the soul used to be people's top concern, today the focus has shifted to the corporeal.
"Our grandparents sought redemption, while we only seek health," he said. "If that is not possible, people demand a quick end, since a life of disability is no longer seen as meaningful."
The churches are critical of advertising that only presents people with perfect bodies and in good health. The motto of the three-year "Week of Life" initiative is "God loves you - healthy or not."