Mar 01 2013

Drewermann’s Open Letter to the Pope

Published by under Quotations

Dear Mr. Ratzinger,
I cannot and will not address you differently. Jesus himself said to his disciples “Do not let yourselves be called father, since you have only one father and he is in heaven.” How then can it be Christian to have a “Pater Patrum,” a father of all fathers, a pope, who presumes because of his office, to represent God on earth?
God needs no representative. That is why it is a major mistake of Roman Catholicism, binding God to a paternal office, which claims to be God-like and equipped with infallibility in all humanly relevant questions.
Your official position, Mr Ratzinger, pushes the moon in front of the sun and darkens the whole earth with its shadow. A successor of Peter? No way. When, according to the legend, Jesus worked the miraculous catch of fish on the shore of the sea of Galilee, Peter fell on his knees and asked Jesus to go away, because he was only a sinful man. Just this insight into his own mistakes made him in Jesus’ eyes able to pass on the key experience of God, that he is close to us in our guilt. Unconditionally and without priestly sacrifice. No office can free us from this and no office can help provide it.
What God wants to see is how we live as persons. In matters of religion, everything official is for him nothing other than presumption, falsification, and masquerade. A papal office is the maximal travesty of the prophet, of this completely personal existence. Binding the questions of life to the impersonality of the clerical hierarchy turns the cause of Jesus into a kind of archaic magic to increase one’s power. It falsifies the freedom trust brings by turning it into an act of external direction and obedience. It doesn’t heal, instead it destroys b y alienating the person through the group pressures of a hollow Church collective. Could the deformation of Christianity be worse?
Unfortunately, yes. The Church of Rome which you head dresses up its priestly office with conceptions from the cult of Persian and Roman rulers and Caesars and tries to turn the cause of Jesus into a matter of political power. It is as the absolutistic monarch of the Vatican City State, as a successor of the Caesars, not as a follower of Peter or Jesus, that you want to visit the democratically elected German Bundestag.
It is my wish – no, it is Jesus’ demand of you: liberate yourself from the notorious, neurotic falsification of life through teaching doctrinaire dogmas. Follow Peter truly, who said to the High Priest of his day “We must obey God rather than men.”
All the surface problems of your Church, the curious sexual ethics, compulsory celibacy, second-class status of women, exclusion of Protestants, lack of inter-religious dialog, all of them could be gradually solved, so that you could at last turn to the questions that trouble you too: the third world, the increasing militarization of external politics.., the population explosion with its terrible effects on plants and animals on this earth, asylum seekers and the practice of torture and the death penalty. How differently you could speak on such questions, if you were free and no longer a theocrat of the Church of Rome, but quite simply an authentic Christian acting as a spokesperson for many believers! The courageous and free speech of Jesus, that would be urgently needed in the German Bundestag in Berlin.

(19.9.2011. On the occasion of his visit to Freiburg, Germany) Translated from

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