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Round Table with His Eminence Bishop Franz-Josef Overbeck in Düsseldorf

The Bishop of Essen, Dr. Franz-Josef Overbeck, who is also Military Bishop of the German armed forces, was a guest at a recent event in the zeb.Round Table series.

At the Industrie-Club Düsseldorf, bank representatives, including the Chairwoman of the Board of Sparkasse Düsseldorf, held a discussion with the bishop on the topic of “Sustainability and Religiosity”. Bishop Overbeck, who is one of the leading figures of the Catholic reform movement in Germany, did not shy away from an open discourse. “In view of the current processes of societal change, we need to ascertain how a responsible and realistic Christian perspective can take shape,” he explained, calling for necessary reforms. To him, the concept of sustainability plays a key role in this context. His clear statements on homosexuality, on the admission of women to ordained ministry, on the German Synodal Way, as well as on foreign and security policy regarding Russia’s war in Ukraine and the refugee issue are exemplary. According to the Bishop, our modern society needs a normative framework based on justice and respect for the law. We are currently experiencing a shift in the meaning of the church as an institution, but also in the fundamental role of religion in today’s liberal societies, as Overbeck pointed out. In Germany, he said, it was evident that the church with its current social structure was nearing the end of the road. On a global level, the same could currently be observed in Russia, for example. “The present war is also a war of ideas regarding the following question: Are we going to live in an authoritarian or a liberal system in the long run?” Bishop Overbeck regarded it as dangerous if religious leaders who considered themselves authoritative and conservative, such as the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church, spoke out against the liberal culture of the West. Christianity must not become an ideology, he concluded.