Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Prelate Profile: Archbishop Ludwig Schick

After a brief exchange with fellow Catholic blogger S. Armaticus regarding the state of the Church in Germany, I decided to conduct a short experiment: select a high-ranking, to me hitherto unknown German prelate, more or less at random, and profile him. The results are posted below for your consideration, followed by my own observations:

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Archbishop Ludwig Schick of Fulda, Germany


His Excellence Ludwig Archbishop Schick
Ludwig Schick was born on September 22, 1949 in Marburg, Germany. He studied theology and philosophy at the Fulda Facutly of Theology and the University of W├╝rzburg, and received Holy Orders at Fulda Cathedral in 1975, where he was also incardinated. He pursued his doctorate at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, which he completed in 1980 with a dissertation entitled The Three-Fold Office of Christ and the Church. Fr. Schick returned to Germany the following year, where he served as Professor of Canon Law at the University of Marburg.  In 1987, he was made Cathedral Canon of the Diocese of Fulda, and in 1995, he rose to the position of Vicar General. The following year, Pope John Paul II raised Fr. Schick to the episcopate, naming him Auxillary Bishop of Fulda. In 2002, he was made Archbishop of Bamberg, the position he still holds today. In 2007, Archbishop Schick was made a member of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre.

Archbishop Schick describes himself as a member of the generation of '68 - a socio-politically momentous phase in the recent history of Europe - and a proud inheritor of Vatican II. He has been a member of the Commission for International Church Affairs since 1998, and its president since 2006. He is actively engaged in caritative programs, such as his charity "Bread for All People", which he founded in 2009 with a sum of €100,000. As part of this work, he travels frequently to many developing countries, such as Guatemala, Senegal and Zimbabwe. He recently directed a considerable portion of the charity's financial resources to provide aid to refugees of religious persecution in Syria and Iraq.

The Archbishop is also heavily involved in the ecumenical movement, and has been known to speak at key Protestant services, such as in 2006, when he spoke to Protestants gathered to celebrate the anniversary of Martin Luther's infamous nailing of his 95 Theses to the door of the Castle Church of Wittenberg. In a more recent (November 2014) homily, given at an ecumenical prayer service held in Bamberg Cathedral to commemorate the promulgation of Unitatis redintegratio, Archbishop Schick spoke of the "spiritual Fathers and Reformers of the Church," whereby he mentioned three men in the same breath: St. Benedict, St. Francis and Martin Luther.

Occasional signs of traditional Catholicism have been witnessed in the Archbishop. He supports state recognition of sacramental marriage under civil law (currently only civil unions are legally recognized), an increase in federal stipends for large families, and a more active engagement of faithful Catholics in the public sphere. In 2012, Archbishop Schick raised the ire of liberals when he strongly condemned all forms of blasphemy, saying:
One who injures the soul of the faithful with scorn and derision must be put in their place and, if need be, punished. [...] The Person of Jesus Christ, God the Father, Mary, the Saints, the Blessed Sacrament, sacred objects such as the chalice and the monstrance, as well as church buildings and processions must be protected by our nation.
Further, the Archbishop encouraged Catholics to make clear to the media and other public entities that they will not tolerate ridicule of their convictions and the undermining of their values. The statement, as to be expected, was quickly labelled a "fundamentalist rant" by the predominately liberal German media.

Archbishop Schick has also proven himself to be at least tolerant towards the traditional form of Holy Mass: there are currently five locations in the Archdiocese which have received his blessing to celebrate in the usus antiquior, using the 1962 Missale Romanum.

The Archbishop was not very outspoken in commenting upon the 2014 Synod. While he regretted that the issue of the reception of Holy Communion by "divorced and remarried" Catholics had become so politically charged, he himself takes a position even Cardinal Kasper has been reluctant to advance publicly: priests should be able to decide who should be allowed to Communion on a case-by-case basis at the parish level.

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Though perfectly unscientific, this little experiment nonetheless provides a modicum of insight into the life of what might well be considered the average German bishop's life. A child of the '68 moral revolution and reared on the fruits of Vatican II, the focus of his ministry is almost entirely upon issues pertaining to social justice. The slow but steady dissolution of the Catholic Church in favor of a "faith-community" loosely based upon the Gospel but not excluding syncretism with heretical and even foreign cults is seen as an inescapable eventuality. Given this situation, does it seem likely that one such as Archbishop Schick is going to provide anything resembling resistance to the advances of heteropraxy by fellow German Cardinals such as Kasper and Marx? Hardly. On the contrary, it seems that he is being counted upon as a future ardent supporter of the same.

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