German Cardinal's school ban triggers storm

Cologne Cardinal Joachim Meisner has unleashed a fierce debate on religious dialogue after issuing a directive to Catholic schools to stop participating in multi-religious events.

Le Journal Chretien reports that German politicians have united across party political lines to criticise the Cardinal.

Lale Akgun, the Social Democratic parliamentary group's Islam commissioner, has called on all teachers to ignore Meisner's directive, saying it comes as a slap in the face to all those who are working for integration and who are trying to create a dialog between the religions.

Akgun pointed to Pope Benedict XVI's recent visit to Turkey, where, she said, the Pontiff presented himself as a builder of bridges and made a huge effort toward better understanding between Christianity and Islam.

However, Mounir Azzaoui, spokesman for the Central Council of Muslims in Germany, said the council is opposed to mixing Christian and Muslim religious services, but that "We don't believe all inter-religious events should be banned."

The Central Council of Jews in Germany also reacted to the Cardinal's remarks.

Spokesman Michael Fürst told German television that it wasn't easy for Jews to pray with Christians either. "We pray to one God," Furst said, "but we don't pray to the Holy Trinity ... there are differences in opinion."

Green party politician Reiner Priggen called on Cardinal Meisner to throw out the Shrine of the Three Kings, a reliquary said to hold some of the remains of the Three Wise Men which is housed in Cologne Cathedral because the Magi are believed to have been Persian astrologers.

However, Cologne Vicar-General Dominik Schwaderlapp said that the Catholic Church is open to encounters with other religions, but not to holding joint religious services in schools.

Germany : Cologne Cardinal's Directive Stirs Inter-Faith Dialog Debate (Le Journal Chretien, 9/12/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Joachim Cardinal Meisner (Catholic-Hierarchy)
Joachim Meisner (Wikipedia)

German cardinal uses canon law to prevent French bishop from speaking (CathNews, 3/11/04)
German Cardinal explains why non-Catholics can't receive Communion (CathNews, 19/2/04)

Analyzing Benedict's prayer with Ratzinger's criteria (NCR 8/12/06)

11 Dec 2006