Rorate Caeli

Selective Approach to Listening to the Laity in Germany

The bishop of Trier in Germany has removed the parish priest of Beckingen from his parish, ostensibly for the reason provided in canon 1741 of the current Code of Canon Law, “a manner of acting which brings grave detriment or disturbance to ecclesiastical communion.” Wherein exactly the disturbance of communion consists is difficult to tell.
In a letter to the parish community, which can only be described as odd, the only evidence that the Bishop offers for damage to ecclesiastical communion is the reaction of the parish against the very removal itself. The Bishop practically admits that his reasoning here is circular, but says that there must have been “division” in the parish beforehand to explain the reaction. But the reaction of the parish seems to show unity among the parishoners rather than division. The parish seems quite united in vigorously protesting the bishop’s action. Dozens of parishoners of all ages and walks of life have made statements on the parish’s youtube channel explaining why they think the pastor should stay. The altar servers (of which the parish has more over 100) have unanimously protested against the decision. And the parish council has published a strong statement, pointing out how strange it is that the diocese of Trier, which pays so much lip-service to the important role of parish councils and the work of lay volunteers in the Church, should here completely ignore the judgement of the local parish council, and of the other lay volunteers involved in the parish life, and instead listen to “the obscure complaints of a few individuals.” What exactly “the obscure complaints” are remains unclear. Rorate Caeli interviewed one of the parishioners, who said that the complaints had to do with the pastor’s “too strict application of the diocesan guidelines on funerals,” and his practice of occasionally celebrating Mass ad orientem and of wearing the biretta on feast days.