Don’t just be an institution

Don't just be an institution

Bishop Peter Kohlgraf (m.) © Harald Oppitz (KNA) What path will the Catholic Church take in the future?? According to Bishop Peter Kohlgraf of Mainz, it should transform itself more from an institution steeped in tradition to a place for experiencing faith.

"If Christianity is only an institution, a reservoir of grand theories, then it cannot be avoided that people turn their backs on the church and Christianity, that it gradually becomes uninteresting," Kohlgraf said over the weekend at an ordination ceremony, according to a statement from the diocese. "We can no longer build our being Christians and churches on traditions alone," Kohlgraf stressed.

The bishop of Mainz directed attention to experiences of faith: "Someone must have experiences in faith, he must experience how beautiful it can be to believe in God, how good it is to belong to a faith community, then he will be interested in faith, then he will remain a Christian."

Quote from Karl Rahner

The starting point of Kohlgraf’s sermon was a quote from the Jesuit Karl Rahner (1904-1984), considered one of the most important Catholic theologians of the 20th century. The Christian of tomorrow will be a mystic, or he will not be at all. He will be someone who has experienced God, or he will cease to be a Christian."

Kohlgraf said: "Today, we clearly feel that Karl Rahner was right: Today, we have to look for the real reasons of faith more than for habits, and we have to offer these reasons to people in a convincing way."

"Witnesses" or "mystics" in demand

Those who become priests should "remind us of God’s presence, but not with clever words or with clever argumentation," Kohlgraf said. A priest should let others participate "in his experiences of faith, in his questions and his closeness to God, in his doubts by all means, so that God does not remain beautiful theory".

If a modern language of proclamation is demanded today, it is "not about a beautiful new packaging". Rather, there is a need for people who have "experienced something" and live out of that experience – that is, "witnesses" or "mystics," Kohlgraf said. Bishop ordained Carmelite Brother Severin Tyburski to the priesthood in Mainz Cathedral.

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