Monday, May 23, 2005

To Cardinal Sterzinsky (The Rückeis Family)

Dear Cardinal Sterzinsky,
16 April 2005

We were very astonished and upset to hear that the Catholic Church is planning to close down our parish All Saints at Hüttenweg in Berlin and to deconsecrate the building. Our parish is one full of young people, one that is growing and one which sees itself as one great big family. One year ago we were told that the diocese was not able to support us financially anymore. We were also told, if I understood correctly, that we could belong to the diocese again if we could show that we could financially support ourselves for an entire year. We did indeed manage to show that we can financially support ourselves without help from the diocese. But instead of keeping its promise, the Church has done the exact opposite, in forbidding us to hold a Mass in our church. Why? This action gives one the impression that someone is jealous that we can financially support ourselves when the church takes its monetary support away, and not only that, but that we also continue to grow. There are several reasons why our family is not prepared to belong to the congregation at St. Bernhardt’s. The main reason is, that girls are not allowed to be altar servers. My young daughter decided all on her own that she very much wanted to be an altar server. The idea had never even occurred to me. Of course, a mother is extremely glad to hear such a wish. One has the feeling that Jesus has called one’s own child. Since then she has completed the training and has been an enthusiastic altar server for a quarter of a year. I know that my daughter would not be allowed to continue this service at St. Bernhardt’s. How is one supposed to explain to a child, that she cannot serve her Lord anymore in this manner, only because she is a girl??? It makes me ask myself which century we are living in! Would Jesus plant such a seed --a desire to serve him in this way—in her, only to stamp it out later? I do not believe in such a Jesus.Secondly, we do not find the service at St. Bernhardt’s very child-friendly. The homilies Fr. Gilleson gives are not comprehensible at all for children. At All Saints the homilies are easier to understand and have more applications to everyday life. There is also no cry room at St. Bernhardt’s, an American invention which makes it possible for parents of crying children to take part in the Mass without disturbing others. Thirdly, there is nothing American or English about the Mass at St. Bernhardt’s. For us (including my husband, who is German) the Mass is nothing more than a German Mass which has been translated into the English language. At All Saints the Mass is very similar to what I know from growing up in the US.
All Saints is an open, child-friendly Church that allows all of its members, be they girls, boys, young or old, not only to take part in the Mass, but to use their diverse talents and really contribute something to the Mass. All Saints Parish gives all of its members the feeling that they belong to one Family. All Saints is a dynamic and growing community. Why does the German Catholic Church want to close down the growing and financially independent community at All Saints? It is as if the Church wants to cut off one of its own fingers. We ask you earnestly that you reconsider this decision. Should a parish be closed only because of political reasons or jealousy? Does the German Catholic Church not keep its promises? I do not think that the late Pope John Paul II or our Lord God himself would be in favor of this decision.

Very sincerely yours,

The Rückeis Family
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