GERMANY, Maria Fischer
The plenary assembly of the German Bishops’ Conference today (September 26, 2023) elected the Bishop of Fulda, Bishop Dr. Michael Gerber, a member of the Institute of Schoenstatt Diocesan Priests, as its new vice-chairman. —
Bishop Gerber succeeds Bishop emeritus Dr. Franz-Josef Bode, who retired a few months ago. Bishop Gerber first became auxiliary bishop in the archdiocese of Freiburg in 2013, and has been bishop of Fulda since 2019.
In the German Bishops’ Conference, Bishop Gerber is also chairman of the Commission for Spiritual Vocations and Church Ministries, as well as a member of the Youth Commission and the episcopal expert group for questions of sexual abuse and experiences of violence.
Church diversity as a task and an opportunity
In a statement, Gerber emphasized that church diversity must be understood as a task and an opportunity: “We have very different opinions, positions and polarizations in our church. As bishops, we have the task in our leadership responsibility to take this up constructively.”
He said it remains a task to bring the Synod of Bishops in Rome on “For a Synodal Church” and the Synodal Way in Germany into communication with each other. It is valuable to bring insights, resolutions and, above all, experiences behind the Synodal Way into the process of the universal church synod, the bishop said. “What is required of us Germans in this process is to listen sensitively to what resonates and how, and why? How do we take up these resonances for the further process in Germany? I am convinced that the experiences of the universal church synod will bring essential impulses especially for the further work in the synodal way,” Gerber said in his statement.
Enlarge the space of your tent
Shortly after Christmas 2022, Father Faulhaber told me a beautiful story from the episcopal house of Fulda Bishop Michael Gerber. At the request of Bishop Gerber, who also lent a hand to the work himself, the nativity scene in the house was set up under a large tent that was “enlarged” from one wall to the other, leaving only narrow passages from one office to the other. The title of the working document for the continental phase of the synod on synodality, “Enlarge the space of your tent,” motivated Bishop Gerber a great deal, he said, and this theme would also characterize Lent in the diocese.
Make the space of your tent wide. We, as the editorial staff of schoenstatt.org, pray for the new Vice-President of the German Bishops’ Conference to have the strength to do this in the Covenant of Love in the entire German Church “and perhaps beyond”.
Photo credit: German Bishops’ Conference/Marko Orlovic
Original: German. Translation: Maria Fischer @schoenstatt.org