Keep hoping, Germans told
Posted: 02 Nov 2006 @ 00:00
HOPE that Protestants and Roman Catholics might one day be able to share in
the eucharist was expressed at the close of the 30th German Protestant
Convention, the Kirchentag, held in Hanover last week.
There was "no alternative to the unity of the Churches in diversity", the
convention's president, Professor Eckhard Nagel, told 100,000 people at the
closing worship on Saturday. A Dutch Roman Catholic theologian, Fr Huub
Oosterhuis SJ, was the preacher. Protestants and Catholics will come together
for an ecumenical Kirchentag in 2010, and a leading Protestant bishop, the Rt
Revd Wolfgang Huber, told the convention that he hoped it would be possible
then for all to "gather at the table of the Lord".
The chairman of the German Bishops' Conference, Cardinal Karl Lehman, was
more cautious, however, and emphasised that eucharistic unity could not be
achieved in advance of full unity. He was quoted as saying: "Something is amiss
if we issue an invitation to eucharistic hospitality and afterwards go back to
our separate Churches."
The German Chancellor, Gerhard Schröder; the President, Horst Koehler;
and the Opposition leader, Angela Merkel, all attended the opening ceremony.
Professor Nagel urged the 100,000 people present to "take a stand against
society's current depression and pessimism". Alongside reports of a drastic
fall in church attendance, German newspapers are reporting an upsurge of
religious fervour across society in general, but most notably in states of the
former Communist East Germany.
All together? Chancellor Gerhard Schröder addresses an audience of
100,000 at the Kirchentag REUTERS