Spiritually burned out
Following the publication of a report on sexual abuse in the Archdiocese of Munich at the end of January, Pirmin Spiegel, Director General of Misereor, the German Catholic Bishops’ Organisation for Development Cooperation, responds to events with a personal statement.
‘We are living in times of huge social change. In dialogue with others, we are convinced that we can help make the anchor of Christian faith, and its potential to liberate and heal, part of local and global processes. This ethical voice and liberating practice can be an important contribution to a different world, one that we need, and I hope they are.
The name of our agency – Misereor – includes the option of standing at the side of the poor and all humans, nature and a planet Earth that will be liveable in the future. Right now, we are watching the planet being plundered ecologically, torn apart socially and burned out spiritually.
I also see a part of our Church as spiritually burned out. Part of its mission is to hear the voice of the excluded and the wounded, to be moved by them and to overcome self-centredness. I am persuaded by Adorno’s idea, which is: “The need to let suffering speak is a condition of all truth.” We need to hear the voices of suffering. We need to hear about the scandals of sexual, spiritual and psychological abuse, and the failings underlying them. Justice for the victims is at stake.
The ethical criteria that are inscribed in Misereor’s DNA apply just as much to the Church itself as an institution. Any other understanding of things would be incoherent. The reliance and motivation provided by the Christian option are made manifest when people risk imprisonment, practise Church asylum, advocate for greater justice, defend human rights and argue in favour of a sustainable planet. We are shocked when people look away and choose not to hear, instead of looking and listening, when people hush things up and sweep them under the carpet, rather than creating transparency and openness. Because then, violence is concealed and denied, and communication is perverted. We at Misereor will continue our prevention work and keep improving it.
What is happening in the Church is getting under my skin and the skin of Misereor’s staff. It’s causing us irritation, and pain. When I pray, and say “I believe”, I want to still be free for others and for close fellowship with the poor.’
The Misereor Board of Directors is staffed by our Director General, Mrsg Pirmin Spiegel, our Managing Director for International Cooperation Dr. Bernd Bornhorst, and our Managing Director for Internal Processes Division, Annette Ptassek.
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