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Where Does the ZdK's Path Lead?


From: Stimmen der Zeit, 9/2009, P. 596-608
webmaster's own, not authorized translation


    Recent conflicts between the Central Committee of German Catholics and the German Bishops' Conference raise questions about the self-conception of the lay organization and its relationship with the bishops. SABINE DEMEL, professor of canon law at the University of Regensburg portrays the history of origin and development of the committee and pleads for healthy pluralism and freedom granted by the law on associations.


"Partners in Church and society" - like this the Central Committee of German Catholics (ZdK) sees itself today (1). And for its relationship to the ecclesiastical authority it chose the formulation, "independent, but never against the will of the bishops" (2). Both the conception of itself and defining the relationship to the ecclesiastical authority of the bishops has always been and will probably continue to be a sensitive issue.

Recent examples for it are: Firstly the current debate on a declaration of the discussion group Jews and Christians in the ZdK (3) which is accused by the German Bishops' Conference that it had "theological shortcomings" and "(is) able to encourage the wrong view that the discussion group could authoritatively deal with a theological topic the clarification of which was reserved for the church's office" (4), whereas on the part of the ZdK the theological dignity of the declaration is underlined. The ZdK rejects both the reproach that it arrogated to itself the authority of the church office and the occasionally expressed expectation that the ZdK should not give its view on church and theological topics the clarification of which was reserved for the teaching authority of the church (5).

Secondly, it has to be pointed to the scandal that, just before the upcoming election by the General Assembly of the ZdK, the German Bishops' Conference has announced that it will not confirm the election of a certain candidate as President of the ZdK - as it is provided for by the statutes - without giving a reason for it (6).

This raises the questions: Where are the border-lines between the legitimate autonomy of the ZdK and the necessary dependence on the German Bishops' Conference? A look at the history of the ZdK from its beginnings until today is very informative. In it the essentials of the necessary answers are already present.


The Origin: The Catholic Associations' Joining Together in 1848

In 1848 in Germany the right to build association had scarcely been proclaimed as the right of free citizen when the Catholics (laity and priests) also made use of this "secular" right, in order to join together for common tasks in the service of the Church's mission.



Even in the same year in Mainz the "Piusverein for Religious Freedom" was brought into being. Within a few weeks it caused in a kind of chain reaction the establishment of such Pius Associations across Germany. The main purpose of those Pius Associations was to protect the Catholic Church against arbitrary interference by the state, and at the same time to commit oneself to the spiritual and moral education of the people and to fight social shortcomings (7).

According to the Catholic principle of unity all local and regional Pius Associations and all other associations founded by Catholics met also in the same year 1848 in Mainz at a national (General) Assembly of the (Catholic) associations in Germany - from today's perspective it is to be regarded as the "First Catholic Day" - and united into only one large union called "Catholic Association of Germany", which was to act as the body responsible for future general assemblies (8).

The associations' name "Catholic" had been chosen as the antithesis to "political". For it was not the concern of the association to deal with the events of the day or questions of party politics but critically to accompany the political decisions on fundamental principles regarding the relationship between the state and the (Catholic) Church and to influence them in the sense of the Catholic faith. At the same time one explicitly (in writing) assured the ecclesiastical authority that one did by no means want to extend the association's activities to areas which are reserved to the Church hierarchy. That's why a German Bishops' Conference, which also took place for the first time in that eventful year 1848, could without any problems agree to this association initiative of Catholics (9).

In order to prepare the regular general assemblies and Catholics Days and to implement their decisions in 1868 a "Central Committee" was elected (10), which can be called the "first Council of Catholics [Katholikenrat] at the national level" (11). With it twenty years after the first foundations of associations a structural reform was carried out by which the one large Catholic association of Germany or the union of the various associations as an umbrella organization was completed by the establishment of the so-called "Central Committee". Up to three members of every association should be in this Central Committee in order to guarantee the connection to the individual associations.

From the point of view of canon law one would have expected that with the publication of the CIC/1917 the ZdK's structure and / or nomenclature was adapted to the law on associations for the first time standardized by the Church (cc. 684-725 CIC/1917). According to the categories of this church statute-book the ZdK had to be classified as a non-church but Catholic association: non-church, since it was not formally founded or approved of by the relevant ecclesiastical authority, Catholic, because it pursues church goals. But an adaption to the guidelines of canon law on associations did not happen.



The National Socialism led to a new, fundamental structural change. Since a public activity of the Central Committee was impossible during the rule of National Socialism, different ways had more or less inevitably to be established in order to stand up for the concerns of the Catholic Church in public life. Since this commitment of Catholics was no longer possible in associations it had to be compensated by something else. It was replaced by the new linking to the parishes and dioceses as assembly points for the various activities.


Diocesan Committees are Formed and their Integration is Discussed since 1945

After the end of World War II and the fall of National Socialism in Germany the jointly practised commitment of Catholics had to be arranged anew. An important first step in this direction is the foundation of the so-called Catholics' committees on parish, deanery and city level as well as their integration in a diocesan committee on the diocesan level.

Both institutions, the Catholics' committees and the diocesan committees have their origin in spontaneous unions of Catholics (laity and clergy) in the Archdiocese of Cologne and were approved of and promoted by the then Cardinal Josef Frings of Cologne:

"Immediately after 1945 in the diocese of Cologne thought was given on establishing a diocesan committee in which all the free initiatives and activities of the laity in the diocese should be brought together. Apart from the Catholic associations and organisations in the Archdiocese of Cologne the city Catholics' Committees, which had already been founded in 1946, should also be represented. ... At their conference in June 1947 the bishops of the then British-occupied zone declared themselves in favour of the formation of such diocesan committees in their dioceses." (12)

Very soon a further, obvious idea came up: these diocesan committees should also be represented in the Central Committee. Indeed, the representatives of the - as far as existing - diocesan Catholic Committee were also invited to the first postwar meeting of the Central Committee in 1947, apart from the "normal" members of the Catholic associations and individual personalities from Church, science and society. With it the idea was connected that at the national level the Central Committee should in future, apart from the Catholic Days, as a further task also unite and coordinate the new form of the laity's work in the diocesan committees or Catholics' committees in order to prevent unnecessary duplication of actions and a fragmentation of forces of the lay apostolate.



However, this integration became a lengthy process of eight years (1945-1953), in which one struggled for the right degree of episcopal influence on the Central Committee (13). That an episcopal influence was necessary was widely acknowledged, but its concrete terms were disputed. How decisive had this influence to be? Besides, what does "decisive" mean in this context? Could it confine itself to the timely prior notification of the subjects for negotiation of the ZdK and to the confirmation of the elected representatives for the key positions in the ZdK or has (had) it to include more, as e.g. the explicit consent to major decisions and public statements as well as the episcopal dispatch of people into key positions of the ZdK, or at least the bishop's influence on the list of candidates for those people that were to be elected by the ZdK?

On the part of the ZdK it was assured here by its then President Karl Fürst zu Löwenstein that nothing important would be undertaken without the consent of the bishops, without making for that reason the Central Committee an episcopal committee. As motto was formulated, "Independent, but never against the will of the bishops" (14). For the German bishops, however, it was important that the Central Committee must not become a "lay organisation in addition to the episcopacy" (15). Their bogy was a Central Committee that parallel to the Fulda Conference laid claim to the actual leadership of the laity, and had therefore no (longer) close ties with the bishops (16) - hence a Central Committee that saw itself as "a kind of laity Parliament" and oriented towards the "idea of formal democracy" (17). Their motto was therefore, so to speak, "to turn the wheel to correct the line of a laity Catholicism that was independent of hierarchical control" (18).

Focal point of those different views about the extent of the bishop's influence on the ZdK is the structural-legal characterization of the ZdK as "founded in accordance with the German bishops' instruction" or "at their wish" or merely "in agreement" with them (19). Historically speaking, the ZdK has its origin in the "initiative of the old Central Committee and of the associations" (20); it was formed independently of the German bishops.


Founding of a New Association of Lay Apostolate Supported by the Bishops in 1952/53

After long discussions in the Central Committee and with the German bishops the bishops finally declared in 1951:

"The Bishops' Conference affirms the formation of a 'Central Committee of the German Catholics' that in the form of an association brings together the various forces, organizations and institutions working in the apostolate of the Church. The particular nature and autonomy of the individual organizations remains in force." (21)



In 1952 - in the presence of the Chairman of the Fulda Bishops' Conference, Cardinal Josef Frings - the foundation of a new Central Committee took place on the basis of the following unanimous decision:

"The representatives of the lay apostolate in the dioceses, in Catholic organizations and institutions present at the assembly on 30.4.1952 in Honnef constitute the Central Committee of German Catholics. They thus fulfil the instructions of the Fulda Bishops' Conference of 1951 to establish such a central committee in the form of an association of the forces that serve the apostolate of the Church." (22)

The statutes worked out immediately afterwards, which were "talked over word for word" by the President of the Central Committee with the Chairman of the Fulda Bishops' Conference before the final decision-making in the General Assembly of the Central Committee (23), define in § 1 as the Central Committee's self-conception:

"The Central Committee of German Catholics is the joining together of the forces that are active in the lay apostolate of the Catholic Church in Germany; this union is borne by the authority of the bishops." (24)

If one stops for a moment at this point and asks after the positioning of the new Central Committee in the coordinates of autonomy and dependence, then a clear answer cannot be given to this question. For the statement of the German Bishops' Conference that it "approves of" the formation of a Central Committee speaks rather for the interpretation of some "act of recognition" of the Central Committee which independently founds itself and is therefore autonomous. The wording in the decision to establish a new ZdK, on the other hand, says that the constitution of the ZdK fulfils the "instructions given" by the German Bishops' Conference and points clearly to the opposite direction of an episcopal committee that is constituted by the Bishops' Conference and therefore dependent on it. In the statutes the expression about the self-conception points also in this direction: the ZdK sees itself as a "union that is maintained by the authority of the Bishops".

The points that were not (yet) clear in those programmatic texts got unambiguous clarity by putting the regulations of the statutes in concrete term: Here the idea of any independence of the lay apostolate is nipped in the bud by making it dependent on the episcopal authority. It begins with the regulations on membership according to which the representatives of the dioceses belonged to the group of those who - according to the then structure of the Church's Constitution - were appointed by the diocesan bishop, and according to which the individual personalities chosen by the decision of the General Assembly were dependent on the agreement with the episcopacy (Section 4 statute 1953). The dependence on the episcopal authority is even clearer expressed in two other legal facts: On the one hand the Assistant General of the ZdK was dispatched by the episcopacy and was - besides the President and two Vice-Presidents - member of the committee (Section 10 statutes 1953).



On the other hand the ZdK was explicitly obliged to work "in agreement with the bishops of the German dioceses" and was bound to the following regulation of the Fulda Bishops' Conference regarding the "co-operation":

"In the ongoing work of the Central Committee the episcopacy is represented by the Assistant General ...
   The President and the Assistant General have to submit for confirmation decisions on matters of fundamental importance to the Episcopal Commission for the coordination of forces in the lay apostolate.
   The Chairman of the Fulda Bishops' Conference confirms the election of the President ...
   On the basis of the proposals of the Executive Committee the episcopacy appoints the head and the secretaries of the various departments" (Section 12 statutes 1953).

Summing up one can say about the eight-year process of founding a new ZdK from 1945 to 1953:

It focuses "on those concerns which since 1945 had more or less obviously been inherent in the German Catholicism: the struggle of the laity for a new conception of itself, and - closely linked with it - for a new relationship between their own mission in the Church and in the world and the integration into the hierarchical structure of the Ekklesia, between actio catholicorum and actio catholica." (25)

From the perspective of the laity the outcome of this struggle, the decision of 1952 to found the ZdK anew and the statutes of 1953, was rather sobering, because the ZdK was clearly headed by the bishops. It became reality what Bishop Michael Keller of Munster in those days had formulated alone and independently, in connection with the draft of the statutes, "Co-operation of all forces that are active in the apostolate under the overall control of the bishops" (26). Even if this pointed formulation was not established in the text of the final statutes it reflects exactly the level of operation. Or to say it with a remark by Cardinal Frings in 1951, "If someone founds the ZdK, then the bishops are it." (27) And one could continue, mutatis mutandis, if the ZdK has to say or do something important, then the bishops have previously agreed.


Emancipation to a Union of the Lay Apostolate Recognized by the Bishops in 1967

At the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) a new conception of the church was developed, which also led to an entirely new theology of the lay apostolate.



The laity are no longer, as until now, regarded as members that are to be patronized by the clergy but as equally responsible members of the People of God, as the clergy has always claimed it. Accordingly, at the beginning of the Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity "Apostolicam Actuositatem" is says, "The apostolate of the laity derives from their Christian vocation and the Church can never be without it." (AA 1).

What a furious start! It expresses already here what in the decree is still further explained in other places: The apostolate of the laity is no longer (as was previously assumed and taught) to be derived from the clerics as the holders of the sacred office but directly from Christ or from the laity's union "with Christ the head" and is "participation in the saving mission of the Church itself" (AA 2; see also AA 3).

This new understanding of the lay apostolate could not remain without consequences for the laity's commitment organized by the ZdK in Germany and for its conception of itself. The Council led thus to a third break in the history of the ZdK, which is until today of crucial importance: the ZdK's conception of itself was fundamentally redefined. In the pre-conciliar statutes of 1953 it was "a union borne by the authority of the bishops," whereas now in the new post-conciliar statutes of 1967 it is "a union recognized by the German Bishops' Conference." The union of the lay apostolate became thus - quite in the sense of the Church's new conception of itself during and since the Second Vatican Council - from a union that was borne by and thus also dependent on the bishops a union that was independent and a union of the lay apostolate that was on its own authority. It is therefore perfectly justified to call the year 1965, the year of the conclusion of the Council, in its significance for the ZdK an "epochal break" (28). Some examples show particularly the evident maturity won by the ZdK:

First, the Diocesan representatives were from then on no longer appointed by the respective diocesan bishop for the ZdK, but by the respective Diocesan Council or by the institution corresponding to it (Section 4 statutes 1967).

Secondly, with immediate effect the individual personalities appointed by the General Assembly needed no longer the bishop's consent (Section 4 statutes 1967).

Thirdly, the competence and responsibility for the various departments was shifted from the bishops to the - newly established - office of the General Secretariat of the ZdK (section 11 statutes 1967), the director of which, the Secretary General was appointed by the chairmanship with the approval of the Executive Committee and the German Bishops' Conference (section 9 statutes 1967).

Fourthly, the episcopal assistant who was dispatched as the intermediary of the Bishops' Conference was no longer member of the committee but had only the right to attend the meetings of all organs of the ZdK (section 10 statutes 1967) (29).



Fifthly, the future work of the ZdK was no longer bound to the explicit "agreement" with the bishops and decisions of fundamental importance no longer bound to their "confirmation" (section 12 statutes 1953, which is cancelled in the statutes of 1967). As a new task of the ZdK was added instead to advise the bishops on issues of social and religious life (section 2b statutes 1967).

But in the new statutes which corresponded to the findings of the Second Vatican Council was also taken into account the increasingly fierce criticism of the ZdK's imbalanced composition and it was accordingly noted, as a new organizational structure in the post-conciliar statutes of 1967 in section 1 that the ZdK was an "Association of the Diocesan Councils of Catholics, the central Catholic organizations, the bodies active in the lay apostolate of the German Bishops' Conference and of other people, groups and institutions affiliated with the lay apostolate."

By including the free initiatives and the Diocesan Councils newly founded after the Second Vatican Council in the ZdK, the representativity of the ZdK has been clearly extended. Especially the Diocesan Councils as new supporters [Mitgliedssäulen] of the ZdK contributed two crucial innovations: the comprehensive territorial representation of the laity as an addition to the functional level of the associations and the replacement of the diocesan bishop by the Diocesan Council of the Catholics or by the corresponding institution/authority entrusting the diocesan representatives (30).


The Development of the Lay Apostolate as a Free Union Until Today

Further adaptations of the statutes, which did not concern the fundamental structure but corresponded to the developments of the time, took place after the Joint Synod of the Dioceses in the Federal Republic of Germany in 1974, the reunification of Germany in 1990, and finally after the integration of the new spiritual communities and movements in 1995 (31).

According to the at present valid statutes of 2001 the ZdK is made up of three major areas: the church associations (associations, organizations, religious communities), the Diocesan Councils, and individual personalities from science, church and society. The associations send 97 delegates, the Diocesan Councils 84 and both choose together 45 public figures. The constituent bodies of the ZdK are the Plenary Assembly, the Main Committee, the Presidium, the President, and the Secretary General with the general secretariat, to which numerous departments with full time personnel belong, and various fields of activities of pastoral, political, social and other issues, the members of which are working in an honorary capacity, supported by an employee of the Secretary General who is head of the management and of the record.



If one takes stock of the structural development of the ZdK since the Second Vatican Council, two aspects are particularly noteworthy.

Firstly: The new independence in the statutes of 1967 for the first time gained, which as union of the lay apostolate is "recognized" by the bishops instead of "borne", the ZdK will not lose any more but express it more in detail, substantiate it, and define it in its fundamental consequence in the subsequent statutes. For example, already in the statutes of 1975 the self-conception is formulated in a way that still applies:

   (1) The Central Committee of the German Catholics is the union of representatives of the Diocesan Councils, of Catholic organizations, institutions of the lay apostolate and other personalities from church and society.
   (2) It is recognized by the German Bishops' Conference in the sense of the Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity (No. 26) as institution that is to coordinate the forces of the lay apostolate and to promote the work of the Church's apostolic work.
   (3) The members of the Central Committee make their decisions on their own responsibility and are then independent of decisions by other bodies" (Section 1, statutes 2001; see almost identical already in Section 1 statutes 1975).

The last paragraph above all deserves attention, in which the ZdK's "own responsibility" and "independence" of other bodies is explicitly put into words. In order not to be misinterpreted ecclesiologically it should be noted that independence and being-not-bound [Nicht-Gebunden-Sein] does not at all mean unrelatedness or (demonstrative) non-observance of the Church's authority; on the contrary, the co-operation with the bishops is planned. The ZdK's own responsibility must not be understood in an absolute sense where autonomy becomes self-sufficiency, but in a relative sense, in which autonomy recognizes the ecclesiologically conditional position of the Church's authority and as far as possible cooperates with it. This ekklesial-cooperative autonomy becomes structurally visible especially in the following points: 1. The statutes adopted by the plenary assembly as well as every change of them require the consent of the German Bishops' Conference. 2. The president elected by the plenary assembly has to be confirmed by the Bishops' Conference. 3. The Bishops' Conference has to approve the Secretary General appointed by the Executive Committee or Main Committee according to the proposal of the President. 4. The Bishops' Conference appoints with the consent of the Executive Committee or Main Committee a Spiritual Assistant who advises the ZdK in spiritual and theological matters and who in an advisory capacity attends the meetings of the Plenary Assembly, the Executive Committee and the Chairmanship. 5. The Bishops' Conference has to confirm the appointment of a priest as rector who has been proposed to the Executive Committee by the Spiritual Assistant together with the Secretary General.



The Rector is a member of the General Secretariat and performs there particularly the spiritual, theological and pastoral duties. Furthermore, he attends in an advisory capacity the meetings of the General Assembly and of the Executive Committee.

Secondly: In the post-conciliar development, too, it is ironically enough noticed that - as already with the CIC/1917 coming into force - also the new CIC of 1983 was and is obviously no reason to adapt the statutes and the self-conception to the new canonical regulations. This is surprising in so far as the CIC/1983 has introduced a fundamentally new and diverse concept of the canon law on associations (c. 215 iVm cc. 298-329 CIC).

According to it there are four different forms of associations, which are above all defined according to the extent of their autonomy with regard to the church authority (cc. 215 iVm 298-329): 1. free association with religious purpose resp. non-canonical association; 2. private-canonical association without legal capacity; 3. private-canonical association with legal capacity; 4. public canonical association. The free association is entitled to the greatest degree of autonomy, the public-canonical association to the smallest (32).

From the history of its development the ZdK had to describe itself as a free association according to c. 215. The reason for this classification is above all the ZdK's conception of itself as a "union" and "organ" of the lay apostolate, the independence of its decision-making as well as the key functions in the ZdK are legitimated by election. It had to be clarified how one has to qualify the fact that the statutes and their amendments need the episcopal approval, that the election of the president has to be confirmed, the appointment of the Secretary General and of the Spiritual Assistant has to be approved of and the appointment of the Rector has to be confirmed by the German Bishops' Conference. Are you to understand these elements as the free association's voluntarily binding itself or do they point in the direction of classifying them (as not only church but also) canonical association?

In particular, the roles of Spiritual Assistant and of the Rector raise questions. How has to be interpreted the advisory function of the Spiritual Assistant for spiritual and theological questions of the ZdK (Section 13 statutes 2001)? And what does involve the Rector's exercise of the spiritual, theological and pastoral tasks in the work of the General Secretariat (Section 15 statutes 2001)? Does the "Spiritual Assistant" in the ZdK thus correspond to the "ecclesiastical assistant" in the public-canonical association (c. 317)? They coincide at least in the fact that the holder of those offices are to be priests and are to be nominated resp. appointed by the relevant ecclesiastical authority and that the circumscribed field of tasks can be arranged freely and flexibly in each case. For the function of the Rector, too, there are parallels in the CIC's law on association. He could hold the function as a "spiritual adviser" in the private-canonical association (c. 324 § 2).



For both the Rector and the Spiritual Advisor are freely chosen by a private association among the priests in the area of the association's activities and are to be confirmed by the relevant ecclesiastical authority; moreover, neither in the CIC nor in the statutes of the ZdK are concrete statements about the field of their activities. However, the fact that the office of the Spiritual Assistant points to the legal status of a public-canonical association whereas the office of Rector points to the status of a private-canonical association rather suggests that both are individually instituted by the ZdK and based on the autonomy and independence of the ZdK as free association according to c. 215. Since legal ambiguities carry the germ of paralyzing disputes over respective areas of authority, the ZdK should not (no longer) put a clear self-classification off within the system of the ecclesiastical law on associations.


Freedom Granted by the Law on Associations as a Gift and Task

The ZdK "has in its more than one hundred year history become acquainted with the value of the plurality of structures. It knows from its argument with the church integralism the value of a certain autonomy for one's own work. The ZdK today therefore gets in a special way the task to ensure that not, due to misunderstood ideas of unity, a structural uniformity of the church is pursued, but that a healthy plurality is maintained also here." (33) If the reflections on the history of the ZdK, the current debates on opinions from the circle of the ZdK and on appointments in the ZdK are connected with this experience, the following admonition is certainly not exaggerated:

"In order that an effective, competent and diverse presence of the church in a changing society can (again) be achieved, it will on the one hand probably be necessary that the ZdK adapts the renewed conception of its belonging to the Church and its apostolic action founded in the teaching of the Council and sees itself increasingly self-confident as part of the Church, of course, not in opposition to the ecclesiastical authority but in a natural and partner-like co-operation in the one and joint mission of the church. On the other hand the church authority, too, is challenged to recognize its new task and role defined by the Council and to put it into practice." (34)

With regard to the current conflicts between the ZdK and the German Bishops' Conference, the Bishops are therefore well advised to regard the at the beginning mentioned opinion of the ZdK as what it is, namely the authentic voice [eigene Stimme] of the lay apostolate that makes known its opinion on what regards the welfare of the Church to the spiritual shepherds and to the other believers in the church. It is thus not only expression of every Catholic Christian's right but also of his/her duty, according to c. CIC 212 § 3.



As long as with such opinions the respective degree of obligation of a doctrine is recognized and the respect for the church's teaching authority is maintained, there is no reason to discredit it as theologically deficient or self-proclaimed doctrinal expression. It should be used for a joint search for a deeper understanding of truth.

For the upcoming election of the president by the General Assembly of the ZdK and the subsequent confirmation of the elected by the German Bishops' Conference is to bring to mind that the ZdK's independence achieved after the Council must not be dissolved (back) into a one-sided dependence on the Bishops' Conference. If the balance between autonomy and dependence, as it is laid down in the statutes of the ZdK, is to continue to exist, the ZdK must be entitled to the primary responsibility for free elections as an expression of autonomy, whereas the Bishops' Conference has to content itself with the secondary responsibility of confirmation as an expression of the ZdK's dependence on the Bishop's Conference.

This secondary right includes also the possibility of denial, but only for legally relevant and documented reasons. Otherwise, the ZdK and the elected officials are entitled to the episcopal confirmation, and so a denial of confirmation without legally relevant basis is a violation of law. The autonomy of the ZdK as an institution of the independent lay apostolate in the sense of the Second Vatican Council would likewise be violated if the German Bishops' Conference should claim more than the act of confirmation of the elected person.



(1) Dokumentation: Partner in Kirche u. Gesellschaft - das Zentralkomitee der deutschen Katholiken (ZdK), edited by Zentralkomitee der deutschen Katholiken (Oktober 2000).

(2) Th. Großmann, Zwischen Kirche u. Gesellschaft. Das Zentralkomitee der deutschen Katholiken 1945-1970 (Mainz 1991) 94.

(3) Nein zur Judenmission - Ja zum Dialog zwischen Juden u. Christen, available under:

(4) See about it: Erzbischof Zollitsch zur ZdK-Erklärung über den christlich-jüdischen Dialog:;

(5) H. Heinz, Nicht nur aus Opportunitätsgründen. Zum aktuellen Disput über ein Nein zur Judenmission, in: HerKorr 63 (2009) 318-321.

(6) See about it K. Riedel, Gekränkt, betroffen, irritiert. Bischöfe verhindern Wahl des neuen ZdK-Präsidenten u. empören das Laiengremium, in: SZ, 9./10.5.2009,6; M. Drobinski, Der Vorhang fällt im Laienspiel. Streit zwischen katholischen Bischöfen u. Gläubigen eskaliert, in: SZ, 11.5.2009,1.

(7) See H. Maier, Das Zentralkomitee der deutschen Katholiken, in: Das konsoziative Element in der Kirche. Akten des VI. Internationalen Kongresses für Kanonisches Recht, edited by W. Aymans and others (St. Ottilien 1989) 831-845,832.



(8) See Th. Großmann, Katholikentage, in: LThK3, volume 5,1339-1345,1340.

(9) See Maier (note 7) 833-835.

(10) See Großmann (note 8) 1340.

(11) H. Hallermann, Katholikenrat, in: LKStKR 2,398-400,398.

(12) Maier (note 7) 837.

(13) See about it Großmann (note 2) 74-107; F. Raabe, Das Zentralkomitee der deutschen Katholiken 1952-1964. Katholische Laienarbeit in Kirche u. Gesellschaft, in: Katholiken u. Protestanten in den Aufbaujahren der Bundesrepublik, edited by Th. Sauer (Stuttgart 2000) 65-88,68f.

(14) Großmann (note 2) 94.

(15) Grußwort des Vorsitzenden der Fuldaer Bischofskonferenz, Kardinal Frings, zur konstituierenden Sitzung des ZdK am 30.4.1952, quoted in Großmann (note 2) 86.

(16) See at the same place 97.

(17) This is the fear of Bishop Michael Keller of Münster in June 1952, at the same place 97.

(18) At the same place 93.

(19) See about it the discussion in the executive committee of the ZdK 1952, portrayed in the same place 100.

(20) In this way the correct hint in the executive committee by A. Roesen, in the same place.

(21) F. Kronenberg, Vom Zentralkomitee zum Zentralkomitee, in: Zeugnis u. Dienst (FS Bischof Franz Hengsbach, Bochum 1980) 152-169,157.

(22) At the same place 160f.

(23) All statutes of the ZdK are available in digitalized form in the archives of the ZdK in Bonn.

(24) Kronenberg (note 21) 161.

(25) Großmann (note 2) 105.

(26) At the same place 98.

(27) At the same place 78.

(28) At the same place 511.

(29) The Secretary General is head of the secretaries' office. According to statutes of 1967 he has (still) to do it "in co-operation with the spiritual director" (§ 11 statutes of 1967). The Spiritual Director is appointed at the suggestion of the Presidium of the German Bishops' Conference (§ 9) and is the "spiritual and theological adviser of the Central Committee" (§ 11). The function of the "Spiritual Director" is now called "Spiritual Assistant" (§ 14 (2) statutes of 2001) and the Secretary General is now the head of the secretaries' office without obligation to co-operate with the Spiritual Assistant or the Rector (§ 27 of th ZdK's standing orders of 2001).

(30) See Großmann (note 2) 187f.

(31) See the same, Zentralkomitee der deutschen Katholiken, in: LThK3, volume 10,1431f., 1432.

(32) The distinction between canonical-non-canonical cannot be equated with church-non-church. Canonical means in the context of ecclesiastical law on church associations: The statutes of the church association correspond (also) to the specific legal guidelines for the statutes of associations in the CIC/1983 cc. 29-329. That's why the term "canonical" is to be understood synonymously with "regulated by the Church" [kirchlich gesatzt]. "Non-canonical" means correspondingly that the church association can freely form its statutes, regardless of the specific inner-church association regulations, and so the expression "non-canonical" is synonymous with "not regulated by ecclesiastical law" and "without canonical statutes". A free association with a church purpose is therefore admittedly not a canonical but a church association. The majority of associations in the Catholic Church is organized in such a way that they according to worldly law are a "registered association" and, according to ecclesiastical law a "free association of Catholics with a church purpose" (charitable activities, piety and / or promotion of the Christian vocation in the world) according to c. 215 CIC/1983, hence a church, but non-canonical association.

(33) F. Kronenberg, Die katholischen Verbände im Wandel von Kirche u. Gesellschaft, in: Gemeinde des Herrn. 83. Deutscher Katholikentag vom 9. September bis 13. September 1970 in Trier, edited by the Zentralkomitee der deutschen Katholiken (Paderborn 1970) 52-67,66; he formulated this statement with regard to the associations and not as here to the ZdK.

(34) H. Hallermann, Die Vereinigungen im Verfassungsgefüge der lateinischen Kirche (Paderborn 1999) 482; he, too, made these statements not by focusing at the ZdK but at the church associations.


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