Friday, May 14, 2010

The monk at the left is the emblem of the city of Munich, and the etymological assumption is correct. Munich has always been a bastion of religiosity, a bulwark of Catholicism.

As I write Petrus is, however, failing to smile on the city. It is seven degrees outside, raining and a high in double figures is far from guaranteed. This means that the 200,000 visitors, here for the Ecumenical Church Congress through the coming weekend are fated to be seriously soggy Christians at the countless outdoor events which are scheduled.

Now Sandlander's readers might have the impression that I am not a cheerleader for the Church of Rome, nor am I a fan of the German incumbent in the Vatican.

One thing I have always recognized, however, is that the Catholics have always had a huge advantage deriving from the very existence of a high-profile, eminently visible leadership figure. Protestantism does not lend itself, in this century, to the emergence of individuals who may be seen as exemplary and charismatic.

The surprise this week in Munich is the warmth with which Margot Kässman has been greeted... that's the handsome woman pictured at the top of this post. Her role in the Protestant church of Germany was somewhat comparable to the Moderator of the Church of Scotland (a position my father almost, but not quite, had a chance of being appointed to!). Although Bishop Kässman was a much more challenging figure and her role as much political as spiritual.

In February of this year she resigned.

The head of the Protestant church in Germany, Bishop Margot Kässmann, has announced her resignation. Her decision to step down came after she was caught driving
with three times the legal blood alcohol limit on Saturday night in Hanover.

Why is she now the uncontested star in Munich? Are there, perhaps, comparisons being made by sincere Christians of all denominations... comparisons with the ludicrous and supremely embarrassing efforts of other church leaders to cling onto their episcopal thrones in the face of accusations implicit of a far greater degree of moral turpitude than the unwise acceptance of a few more glasses of wine?

A straight talker like Margot Kässman is a breath of fresh air, making a clear distinction between the moral and the mystical.

Although the video below, a television spot for the Ecumenical Church Congress, hints that even the mystical can be handled in a very compelling and touching way.

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