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Monday, October 16, 2017

Media director who made refugee boat into altar fired for foolish tweet

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Media director Mayer leaves archbishopric Cologne
He succeeded in obtaining one or another PR coup for the archbishopric of Cologne. But then Mediendirektor Ansgar Mayer got a tweet in the headlines. At the end of the year he will give up his office.

The Media Director of the Archdiocese of Cologne, Ansgar Mayer, will left the diocese at the end of the year at his own request. According to the archbishopric on Monday, the reason was a new task in Hamburg, which he wanted to concentrate on. Mayer had only taken over in January 2016 the former staff office and converted it to the main department of media and communication. He headed three departments with around 40 employees and developed, among other things, a holistic media strategy for all platforms and channels.
The Archbishopric regretted Mayer's decision. He had succeeded in establishing a corporate communication which meets the needs of the time, said Vicar General. Dominik Meiering. In addition, the 45-year-old had a "PR coup" for the archbishopric. Thus, media attention was attracted from beyond the German borders, when Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki used a refugee boat in front of the Cologne Cathedral as an altar.
Corpus Christi in Cologne
Negative headlines

At last, however, Mayer had drawn attention to himself with his personal negative headline. In a tweet about the many electors' votes for the Alternative for Germany in Saxony (a depressed state in former Eastern Germany), he had written after the Bundestag election: "Czech Republic, how about: We take your nuclear waste, you take Saxony?" On top of that, there were some critical reactions, which were spread over Twitter and Facebook as well as on numerous Internet portals. Later, Mayer asked for forgiveness. Whether or not his present departure from the Archbishopric of Cologne is also connected with these occurrences was not divulged by the Archbishopric.

Mayer was born in 1972 in Ellwangen. He studied political science, history, journalism and Catholic theology. Among other things he was head of the Crossmedia training at the Axel-Springer-Akademie from 2007 to 2012 and from December 2012 until his change to Cologne on the board of the "Computerbild" in Hamburg.

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Cardinal asks forgiveness for the way the Church has treated the divorced, separated and remarried

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Cardinal Philippe Barbarin presented on Sunday, October 15 to a full cathedral the "paths of discernment" proposed by Pope Francis in Amoris Laetitia.

After Rouen and Le Havre, Lyon is the third diocese to organize such a meeting, to "concretely implement" the Apostolic Exhortation on the Family.


Catherine waits on the forecourt. A book under her arm, she watched Cardinal Philippe Barbarin. For an hour the Archbishop of Lyon lingered with those "people who had experienced a marital breakdown", whom he invited on Sunday evening 15 October, to exchange thoughts with him in the Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist. The night has fallen, Catherine can finally hand the work to him. A copy of The Joy of Love, the apostolic exhortation on the family that this childcare assistant asks the cardinal to dedicate. Before starting the conversation.

At her side, her new companion, Laurent. This maintenance technician had to "leave" his parish, at the same time that he separated from his wife. Like Élodie, "unmarried mother", who joined the exchange. "We had to be accepted elsewhere," she regrets. "We feel that the Church is no longer fixed on these issues," underlined Laurent, 52 years old. Catherine and I went to see the priest freshly arrived in our parish. He welcomed us. "

Ensure to "never use the language of the permitted and the forbidden"

Symbolically seated among the crowd at the beginning of the encounter, and then encountered in the shadow of a pillar, the cardinal applauded at the end of the six testimonies of "separated, divorced or divorced remarried Catholics ", delivered before a full cathedral. This, a year and a half after the publication of Amoris laetitia. And ten days after meeting Pope Francis, with 80 priests of the diocese. "When I asked the priests: What theme would you like him to talk to?", The answers were unanimous: "On Amoris laetitia chapter 8" to "accompany, discern and integrate fragility" ", says the cardinal.

For it is "a difficult road" opened by the Pope, commented the Archbishop of Lyon. Starting from the points on which Francis insisted on to the Lyon delegation. First of all, to consider "people first" and not marital situations. Next, make sure to "never use the language of the permitted and forbidden".
A "difficult road", therefore, that some priests of the diocese borrowed. Like Father Franck Gacogne, parish priest of Saint-Benoît, in Bron, standing beside Florence and Georges. It is they who speak, with a voice. Twelve years ago, they sought to "reconnect with the Church", especially during the baptism of their three children. But they had long received only "inadequate answers," they say modestly.

The cardinal wanted to "ask for forgiveness"

Other witnesses do not hide the sufferings. Some say they have found themselves found in a "club of outcasts". "Neither judged nor dismissed from the Christian life," another person confides nevertheless "to be confronted with contradictory, indifferent or embarrassed positions of certain pastors". And the cardinal insisted on "asking for forgiveness," before handing each of the witnesses a copy of the apostolic exhortation.

Finally, Florence and George were heard, in the person of the parish priest of Bron. "Are you at peace?" This was his first question, "reports the couple who are both divorced and now remarried, who then chose to get involved in the local community, by holding welcoming consultations. The beginning of a long journey. They were now going to Mass as a family. But they felt "lonely on their bench" at the time of communion. "The more we find our place, the less we feel we have the right to have it," they summarize.

Thanks to the paths opened by Amoris laetitia, the priest offered them a support, based on a course built by the Reliance Teams linked to the Teams of Our Lady. Then they prepared "a celebration with a blessing of our couple". At the next Sunday mass, they returned to the Eucharist. And they became even more involved in the parish, especially with other divorced-remarried couples, who were in turn engaged in a path of discernment. Before, "possibly", like them, an access to the sacraments.

Reception groups are still rare

This prudence is in line with that of Cardinal Barbarin, who developed the question at length, recalling that "access to communion has always been a delicate problem in the Church" for all Christians. As for the divorced-remarried, of course, he says, "when a person cannot bear not being able to communicate and finally decides, because of this internal hurt, not to come to Mass, it would be absurd and inhuman to continue to wield a banning sign in front of them. " "For some people, the Cardinal repeated several times, this path of faith will go through the fact of going communion, for others to participate in the mass without communion, like Charles Peguy. "

The important thing in the eyes of the Cardinal is above all to enable those "in a situation of rupture" to "find their place in the Church". And, from this point of view, there is still some way to go.
The Florence and Georges route is a rare example of support driven by a parish dynamic. "Some of my colleagues are aware of the issue, but perhaps they prefer personal support," says Father Franck Gacogne, “While the ecclesial dimension seems important to me”. In fact, few parishes in the diocese of Lyon have for the time being set up a reception group for people whose marriage has broken down.

The latter are currently invited by Bénédicte and Édouard Michoud, episcopal delegates for the pastoral care of families, to "continue with their local community, their parish". Without a "single path", they insist, the important thing being "to overcome possible fears". On the part of the people whose marriage has broken down, as on the part of the local communities.

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Radio Vatican deeply concerned about the result of the Austrian election

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Austria has decided that the People's Party under Sebastian Kurz has emerged as a clear victor of the elections this Sunday. In short, the government has now a mandate. This scenario also seems to suggest a coalition of the People's Party with the liberal-populist FPÖ. It was a difficult choice for Christians in the country, whose election campaign was also marked by mutual hits beneath the belt and populism.

Sebastian Kurz, however, could now become a source of hope for the Alpine region: this is maintained by the electoral observer and Catholic publicistm Heinz Nußbaumer. The political pressure from the right was undeniable, but now had to be conducted in quieter waters, says Nußbaumer in conversation with Vatican Radio. "Both parties - the ÖVP and the FPÖ - who have called for a stricter, the FPÖ even for a very strict migration policy, have won very strongly. The issues of security, migration, fear of Islamism were certainly the dominant motives. The second phenomenon is the deep-seated wish of the Austrians to change the basic constants of politics. "

According to Nußbaumer, this constellation of electoral themes, which was "massively overplayed" in the election campaign, had made the vote so complicated for Christians: "The decisive factor for me as a Christian on election day was the fact that precisely those two parties, have presented themselves as the hardest in terms of migration, dealing with refugees, and closing refugee routes. "

The Christian faith had been a "sign of our culture and identity" but Christian content was missing. In this context, Nußbaumer points to the theologian Paul Michael Zulehner, who had already identified the precarious situation for Christians before the election: "Not a few Christians will be politically homeless this time because political action on the refugee question, these populist simplifications and the lack of a Christian inspired and attractive vision of an Austria of the future disrupts many committed believers and has brought them into a difficult emotional isolation. "

The scaremongering of the threatened Islamization might thus have possibly decided the Austrian election, the more important is now a rethink, says the long-term head of the Austrian Presidential chancery. "We must now look to see if these two parties [ÖVP and FPÖ, Note], should they jointly form a coalition, then descend from this exposed position given governmental responsibility."

In any case, he expects a Chancellor such as Kurz to say that the "exclusion emotions" observed in the election campaign will now be replaced by "a more moderate and responsible attitude, but also a humanitarian and Christian understanding", Nußbaumer is confident.

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See also Bishops take on the political right