Astoundingly candid bishop says Catholic Church is a shattered remains of its former self
Germany’s Heiner Wilmer, who is widely considered a “Francis bishop”, says the pope wants to “turn the Church on its head” German Bishop Heiner Wilmer, who is reportedly close to Pope Francis, has claimed that the Catholic Church has “utterly gambled away” people’s trust in the institution by the way it has mishandled the clergy sex abuse crisis.
Limited extract from Christa Pongratz-Lippitt, Austria, Subscription journal La Croix International, 24 November 2021
“Protecting the institution and the perpetrators was always the most important factor for the Church. (Protecting) the victims, on the other hand, simply did not occur,” said the 60-year-old Bishop Wilmer, head of the northern German Diocese of Hildesheim. He made his remarks to some 200 representatives of religious, social and political groups who were gathered for an annual diocesan-sponsored reception in Hannover. The bishop was filling in for Cardinal Reinhard Marx, who had to cancel his participation after he tested positive for the coronavirus. Wilmer, whose address was titled “SOS — It is no less a matter of saving our souls”, warned that the Catholic Church would no longer be able to play a dominant role in society. Church must re-discover its Biblical roots “The Church as an institution will shrink and will be far more modest. It will just be one voice among many offering to explain the sense of life on earth,” he said. “While it will be smaller, it will be ecumenical. Our faith will cover a smaller area but will grow in depth and in its Biblical roots,” he predicted. Heiner Wilmer was completing his third year as the worldwide superior general of the Dehonians (Priests of the Sacred Heart) in 2018 when the pope picked him to be bishop of Hildesheim. And many in Germany say the former head of the Dehonians is truly “a Francis bishop”. He concentrated on three key questions during his address in Hannover: How much say do bishops still have today? What are people looking for? And are the Churches still of any use today?