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German cardinal warns church bureaucracy may dull the faith

Cardinal Joachim Meisner has urged workers in Catholic Church institutions to return to an "encounter with the person of Christ", warning that the ecclesial bureaucracy runs the risk of obscuring the faith.

The archbishop of Cologne made his remarks in an interview published last week in Die Tagespost magazine.

He was expanding on criticisms of Church bureaucracy he made in a homily during the last German bishops' meeting. The criticisms unleashed a heated debate.

He pointed out that the Catholic Church is the institution with the greatest number of employees in Germany after Volkswagen, equal to the Lutheran denomination.

Cardinal Meisner criticised the "structures, commissions, statutes and secretariats" within the Church, which he said run the risk of "obfuscating the faith."

"There is a great positive determination and witness of the faith in Catholic associations," he told Die Tagespost. "However, it is also the case that they serve as the basis for the diffusion of fatuous fires [endless debates]. These are alarming developments, before which we bishops cannot close our eyes."


Archdiocese of Cologne
Joachim Cardinal Meisner (
German Bishops Conference

11 Oct 2002