A group that represents some 70,000 lay Catholics who teach religious instruction in Germany's state high schools is calling for sweeping Church reforms and wants its members to have a role in bringing them about.
In a recently published open letter, the "Association of Catholic Religious Education Teachers" (Bundesverband der katholischen Religionslehrer) says the "binding synodal procedure" announced by Germany's Catholic bishops is a "step in the right direction" and is demanding that the teachers be included in it.
The bishops embarked on the synodal procedure at their plenary in March, saying it will concentrate on three main issues -- Church teaching on sexual morality, clerical power and the present priestly lifestyle and, the issue of mandatory celibacy for ordained ministers.
"We are convinced that such a synodal procedure is urgently needed. If we demand to be allowed to participate in it, we do so out of a sense of responsibility so that we can help the Church, as a credible community, to become viable (zukunftsfähig) for the future," the teachers explain.
Representatives of the Catholic faith
They argue that as religious education teachers in state schools, they are seen as the representatives of the Catholic faith and the Church. But they must work in an atmosphere where other teachers and especially students represent a pluralistic worldview that is so characteristic of contemporary society.
The teachers point out that most young people today expect "little or nothing" of the Church as far as their own lives or society are concerned. They say most of their students "have more or less crossed the Church off as an institution," either because they see it as resistant to change or, worse, because they believe it is "simply not credible."
Yet at the same time the educators say a lot of young people are seriously interested in existential matters "which touch on faith related questions and issues." Read more via La Croix