Katholische.de reports on a very interesting book and manifesto from German-speaking Catholics in this article: “Hurry up and Save the Church” (Nur mal schnell die Kirche retten). The name of the book is Mission Manifest: Die Thesen für das Comeback der Kirche (“Mission Manifesto: Theses for the Church’s Comeback”).
In June 2017, six Catholics met at a house of prayer in August to consider questions such as: Is the church in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland still salvagable? Or is it charging straight into a wall? Will anything more than a marginalized remnant remain within a few decades?
The group formulated a “Manifesto for the Church’s Comeback.” They appeal to Pope Francis’s Evangelii Gaudium, which calls for a missionary breakthrough in the church.
The broad diversity within this group is striking:
- Johannes Hartle, leader of the Gebetshaus (house of prayer) in Augsburg;
- Cistercian Fr. Karl Wallner, rector of the conservative/traditionalist theological college at Heiligenkreuz in Austria;
- Bernhard Meuser, who generated the idea for YouCat and served as its coeditor; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Youcat
- Martin Iten, young Catholic media presence in Switzerland;
- theologian Paul Metzlaff, who works in the department for youth for the German bishops’ conference;
- Benedikt Michal, a leader in youth outreach with the Austrian bishops’ conference.
Publicist Sophia Kuby, co-founder of “Nightfever” Katharina Fassler, and leader of the Loretto community Maximilian Oettingen contributed to the formulation of the manifesto’s 10 theses.
The authors of the book assert that the church is in catastrophic condition, and unless it undergoes a “re-formation,” has no future. Traditional pastoral strategies are no longer effective, and conventional means of passing on the faith are moribund. The contents of the faith must be learned anew, and missionary work must become the first priority – in terms of both finances and personnel – of the church.
(The article at katholische.de finds this negative analysis to be overstated, and notes that some youth find a conventional liturgy more apealling than some of the types of special events this movement seems to favor.)
Here are the 10 Theses of the “Mission Manifest.”
- Thesis 1: We are motivated by the desire that people be converted to Jesus Christ.
- Thesis 2: We want missionary work to become Priority #1.
- Thesis 3: We believe that the chances have never been greater than now.
- Thesis 4: We address all people in our countries without distinction.
- Thesis 5: We believe that our missionary work will be as powerful as our prayers.
- Thesis 6: We thank all Christians outside the Catholic Church who today already do missionary work with dedication, baptize, and lead people to Jesus.
- Thesis 7: We must discover anew the content of the faith.
- Thesis 8: We wish to missionize, not indoctrinate.
- Thesis 9: We need a “democratization” of mission.
- Thesis 10: We ourselves must be converted to the joy of the Gospel in order to lead others to Jesus.