Ecumenical Funeral Service for Guido Westerwelle in a Catholic Church
(Berlin) The "ecumenical memorial service" for the Protestant and professing homosexual, former German Vice Chancellor, Guido Westerwelle, in a Catholic basilica in Cologne raises fundamental questions that go beyond this particular case. What is a church? Why was it built? What is its purpose? Is the church, regardless of denomination, only a service provider whose services one can be taken at will and introduced to an personalized design? Did religious leaders abuse the death of Westerwelle for de facto recognition of homosexuality by the Catholic Church? The abusive use of churches is not an isolated case, but tends to increase.
"Holy Ground": The Church as sacred
The church is the house of God. It has its origins in the encounter of God with Moses in the burning bush.This was the first direct revelation of God to mankind since the expulsion from paradise. God said to Moses:
"Do not come near! Take off your sandals; because the place where you are standing is holy ground."
The place where God is present, where the Holy Eucharist is celebrated and reserved, is holy ground, and God requires of man a corresponding attitude. To underline this holiness, God called to Moses, take off your shoes.
The Church invites the believer to personal prayer and especially to attend the celebration of the Holy Eucharist. This devotion of the Savior sacrificed on the altar is offered, meant as a help and consolation of the faithful. A church should therefore, as well the Second Vatican Council says, be beautiful and be suitable for prayer and the sacred act.
Another purpose is not provided. That is, a church may be used for anything else than for visualization, containment and worship of God.
Nevertheless, Catholic churches are being increasingly diverted. The range of promotions ranging from art and photography exhibitions to film locations for films, of Agapes with food and drink, up to real charity food or feeding the poor, and even a game room for a dubious youth ministry. To say nothing of debating by a certain Catholic "reform group." Added to this there are increasingly, "ecumenical" events. What they all have in common is that they have nothing to do with the actual purpose of the church. The church is transformed into a kind of multi-purpose hall, although there are enough other premises, usually already at the nearby parish hall or community center.[!]
The reasons can be speculated. Is it the result of a dwindling faith in the real presence of Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament? Or is the inappropriate attempt to fill the emptying churches by "attractions"?
Church as a service provider for "beautiful" celebrations
Slopping over from the Protestant side, this which has even seeped into the Catholic area with an incorrect understanding of the Church and the sacraments. The faithful are not many and they don't want to say anything. Since men love feasts, and the beautiful, to break out of the everyday, one recalls the church. Not without reason it offers - yet the idea itself is available to those who are far from the faith - the most beautiful festivals in one's life. The importance of these festivals is no longer understood by post-Christian man perhaps, but festivals still please him.
The church is degraded in this perspective, to be a mere service provider for special celebrations and family gatherings. A service provider is ordered and everything is directed the way one wants things for himself. Therefore, children are not baptized as soon as possible after birth, so that they can become children of God through the sacrament of baptism. Baptism takes place only when a big party is organized and it best fits the schedule of all the invitees. So it goes with confirmations, to the wedding and then to the funeral. In confession and anointing of the sick, there is nothing (obvious) to celebrate, which is why it is not by chance that these two sacraments find dwindling attention.
Progression to "ecumenical worship"
So in these special occasions every kind of person rolls into the Church, who hardly knows the most basic rules of conduct. Many pastors have to be bothered with special needs, because a service provider is supposed to respond flexibly to the needs of the clientele. At least that is what some "customers" expect.
The power is inclined in this context to the "ecumenical." What spiritual benefits are there with "ecumenical" worship? The Eucharist is understood fundamentally differently between Catholics and Protestants. With this understanding the church is inseparable from its purpose, which is why all church buildings were built and what they are used for. With "ecumenical" church services, things are forced together which do not match and do not belong together. The previously open issues are simply glossed over, and this happens at the expense of the divinely revealed Eucharistic understanding.
Thus also the spiritual benefits and even more the healing effectiveness remain questionable. So why bother?
Concrete example: the "funeral" for Guido Westerwelle
Thus the specific example, because it took place before the eyes of all and thus acts to form opinions. On March 18, a prominent federal politician, Guido Westerwelle died. An incurable disease wrested his life from him at only 54 years old. Westerwelle was born in 1961. He came from a respected, Protestant family of lawyers. Both parents were (since 1947 from a part of North Rhine-Westphalia) from the part of the land which became Protestant in 1538 in the former "provisional seat of government" of Bonn. Westerwelle himself was also a lawyer.
After "turning" of a government of SPD / FDP government to a CDU / CSU / FDP government, he was in 1983 the first National President of the Young Liberals , the new youth wing of the FDP. He rose to the Federal Executive and in 1994 FDP General Secretary, 1996 Bundestag, 2001 FDP President, 2006 Party Chairman and opposition leader and 2009, finally, Vice Chancellor and Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs. He had only held it for a short while in 2013 when the FDP crashed after its soaring and not make it a place into office in the Bundestag.
His homosexuality was only rumored about early on. Westerwelle was "outed" however, relatively late. It happened in 2004 during Angela Merkel's 50th birthday. Westerwelle took his male partner with him to participate. His picture made the headline made on July 21, in the newspaper. Another guest of the birthday celebration was Cardinal Karl Lehmann, then President of the German Bishops' Conference. There were times when a Catholic bishop would have stood in protest against such an ostentatious displays of homosexuality and gone. Lehmann remained in what could be interpreted as an indirect approval.
2010 went Westerwelle for a "partnering" according to the Civil Partnership Act. The law of the red-green reign recognizes homosexual relationships and gives them a legal framework. Westerwelle was at that time Minister and Vice Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany, for which his homosexuality was given wide media publicity. His manner of life is to be seen next to other public figures, as the most effective advertising for homosexuality.
"Funeral" in a Catholic Church
Although Westerwelle was Protestant, an ecumenical memorial service was held on April 2nd and in the Catholic Basilica of the Holy Apostles in Cologne. Why an ecumenical memorial service? Why in a Catholic church? Is Church the same church, just because they are so named? It was one of "ecumenical" confusion and relativism of the Catholic Church in which this understanding was abetted.
But there are many more questions: Is the liturgy for the dead or the living? As is known, the deceased was a member of the Evangelical Church in Rhineland , a Prussian Union Church, in which both Lutherans and Calvinists are included. For whom was the celebration organized? So the fact that the highest dignitaries of the Republic and therefore besides Catholics, Protestants would be present among the alleged participants?
And why on the one hand in a Catholic church when a Protestant pastor officiated the "funeral"?Because it was Prelate Karl Jüsten, director of the Catholic Office of the German bishops in Berlin who gave the homily, who knew Westerwelle since "early youth"? That sounds too modest, especially compared with the appearance of a de facto recognition of homosexuality by the Catholic Church, which was mediated on April 2 by prelate Jüsten and through the municipality. The personal youthful friendship especially has nothing to do with the liturgy. Jüsten left in his homily that which was essential in view of the strong media presence, not to resonate the slightest hint of criticism of Westerwelle's homosexuality. But on the contrary. He turned explicitly to Westerwelle's "man". This sat in the front pew next to German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Homosexuality is through Guido Westerwelle, given high recognition, also beyond death, in the official minutes of the Federal Republic of Germany and is not only accepted as "self-evident", but poignantly prominent.
Abuse of the Church
The decision to hold the funeral of a gay Protestant in a Catholic church, although there is no shortage of Protestant churches, sounds at best, that the secular criteria were more important than religious and spiritual. In the worst case it should involve a scandal in the highest church circles considering the public de facto acceptance and promotion of homosexuality in the Catholic Church. Whether one way or the other, no one seems to have noticed the contradiction between Westerwelle's homosexuality and the Catholic Church, in any case no one disturbed. Not even the Catholic Church representatives.
Numerous media had already converted the death and funeral as a promotional tool for homosexuality. The CDU politician and father Lothar Späth, who died on the same day, was devoted significantly less space by the media in their coverage.
The "ecumenical memorial service" for Guido Westerwelle has become the obvious example of the abuse of a Catholic church and the liturgy as a service. Westerwelle was practicing homosexual and lived as such, in the state of serious sin, and he was a Protestant. He connected very little with the Catholic Church and the Catholic faith.
What kind of healing effectiveness an "ecumenical memorial service" have? She has a Requiem. If one wanted to send the means of grace to the dead, should he be in purgatory, then this would be possible by a Holy Mass. They are also facing as intention also a non-Catholics. But that does not seem to have been desired. Which brings us back to the question already asked, according to what criteria was the celebration aligned oriented, how was it aligned. Was the Catholic Church just the "beautiful" scenery for a "beautiful" ceremony? Should the high politics of West German "consensus" be demonstrated? Is the church only as a stooge of the government, as an expression of the Enlightenment and Protestant state church? Has the Catholic faith's shrinkage gone so far that external aspects are more important than spiritual? In other words, that a call can be sincerely traced from the government district?
The language of canon law
The Code of Canon Law provides important clues and binding:
Can. 1205 - Sacred places are those which are designated for worship or burial of the faithful by dedication or blessing, as the liturgical books prescribe it.
Can. 1210 Only those things which serve the exercise or promotion of worship, piety, or religion are permitted in a sacred place; anything not consonant with the holiness of the place is forbidden. In an individual case, however, the ordinary can permit other uses which are not contrary to the holiness of the place.
Can. 1211 Sacred places are violated by gravely injurious actions done in them with scandal to the faithful, actions which, in the judgment of the local ordinary, are so grave and contrary to the holiness of the place that it is not permitted to carry on worship in them until the damage is repaired by a penitential rite according to the norm of the liturgical books.
Can. 1214 By the term church is understood a sacred building designated for divine worship to which the faithful have the right of entry for the exercise, especially the public exercise, of divine worship.
It may therefore be that everything that has happened on April 2nd in Cologne's Holy Apostles Basilica, is done in accordance with the German bishops. Nevertheless, questions remain. Was that appropriate and correct? And above all: what benefits does it have for salvation?
The "ecumenical memorial service" for Guido Westerwelle is just an example, however, establishes a public example of an abusive church use, a dubious understanding of sacred space, the sacraments and necessity for salvation. A study of the issues raised and a rediscovery and recovery of the space of worship, as Pope Benedict XVI. had demanded, is needed.
Text: Giuseppe Nardi
Image: FFH / AFP TV (screenshot)
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