In Germany, The Diocese of Münster Reforms Its Governance

Source: FSSPX News

Mgr Felix Genn

A small revolution in the administration of the diocese of Münster, Germany: beginning on February 1, 2021, a permanent deacon, married and father of two children, will become the head of the vicariate general for all administrative and economic questions. He is also responsible for leading the 730 or so employees who currently work in the diocese.

The news was announced on January 19, 2021, by Bishop Felix Genn, who has held the reins of the Diocese of North Westphalia since 2009.

The current Vicar General, Msgr. Klaus Winterkamp, ​​retains his title, but his functions are now limited to “guiding the diocesan pastoral strategy,” the diocesan statement said.

For the prelate, the decision to create the post of administrative director of the diocese “aims to raise the profile of the Vicariate General as a competent service provider”: a way of reducing religion to business, which the faithful will appreciate.

The new “temporal” patron of the diocese is called Ralf Hammecke. He was born in Münster in 1965, worked for 13 years at the headquarters of Deutsche Bank in Frankfurt am Main, then held various managerial positions in companies. He has been a permanent deacon since 2001, is married and the father of two children.

In short, the ideal profile for those who call for a Church where priests and bishops are dispossessed of their powers. Is this the stage of a deeper movement of secularization?

Because since the opening of its synodal path, the Catholic Church of Germany has accelerated the movement of decomposition started in the wake of the post-conciliar era: the Münster reform may even seem insignificant in view of what is happening in other dioceses across the Rhine, where they go so far as to apply the so-called “Rottenburg” model.

In 1972, this diocese was the first to formalize the integration of lay people into the direction of parishes: a model which has gradually spread throughout the country.

In this area, as in many others, Germany is pushing to the limit of their logic and to the extreme, the equivocal notions of “people of God” and of the “common priesthood of the faithfull,” fiercely debated during the Second Vatican Council. For example, since 2018, in Germany four lay people have been leading parishes in the diocese of Osnabrück without the supervision of a priest.

Likewise, the secular power of several dioceses have moved to slip into the hands of the laity: this is the case in Eichstätt, Hamburg, Bamberg, Münich-Freising, and now Münster.

As the German-language religious news site katholisch.de explains, this is only a step in “daring to more democracy in the Church.” The short-term goal, for Msgr. Heiner Wilmer, Bishop of Hildesheim, is to establish a diocesan pastoral council, composed by laypeople, whose vote would have a decision-making character, and therefore be binding on the bishop.

Yet a quick glance at 2,000 years of Church history is enough to convince: with rare exceptions, that when the laity interfere in a notable and lasting way in the government and the management of the Church, consequences are most often disastrous.

As proof, let us remember the problem posed by the lay investiture, with its procession of simony and abuse of all kinds, which poisoned the life of the Church from the 9th to the 12th centuries.

By wanting to drive without looking in the rearview mirror of history, the Church in Germany—and elsewhere—is likely to end up in the ditch of ideologies.