- Battle lines drawn
This week produced the clearest evidence yet that the Synod Fathers are sharply divided between those who are supporting Pope Francis in his efforts to present a more pastoral vision of the Church and those determined first and foremost to emphasise its moral teaching
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German bishops faced a demonstration by employees of the church-owned Weltbild publishing house angry about the decision to put the company into liquidation.
“You’re stealing our future!” the employees chanted outside the monastery in Würzburg where a meeting of the permanent council of the German bishops took place on 27 January.
The demonstrators brandished flags saying, “We have lost our faith in the bishops and the bishops no longer believe in Weltbild”.
Bishops of the 12 dioceses responsible for the group filed for bankruptcy when it became evident at the beginning of January that several hundred million euros would be needed to save it. The group employs 6,800 people.
Some employees had travelled by bus 150 miles from the Weltbild headquarters in Augsburg to mount the protest.
Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich and Bishop Konrad Zdarsa of Augsburg assured them that the bishops would stand by a pre-Christmas undertaking to provide Weltbild with €65m.
On 24 January, Bishop Zdarsa told domradio.de that he had written to all 27 German diocesan bishops urging further help for Weltbild. He feared that the Church’s reputation would suffer, he said as the bishops were being accused of allowing Weltibld “to slither into insolvency so as to get rid of it”.
Bishop Zdarsa said he would like to see Weltbild reduced to a small Catholic publisher “as then it could be used to disseminate Catholic opinion”. In 2011 the German Church was embarrassed by revelations that Weltbild published material of a pornographic nature.