German Catholics protest Archdiocese of Berlin banning unvaccinated from attending Mass

By Maike Hickson at LifeSiteNews:

A group of some 60 Catholics – families, students, and the elderly – have shown their opposition to the new “2G” rule in the Archdiocese of Berlin that only the vaccinated or COVID-recovered faithful may attend Holy Mass. These Catholics organized a prayer vigil at Hedwig’s Cathedral, the main Catholic church in Berlin, singing, praying, and displaying a sign which read: “No 2G: Church for all.”

LifeSite interviewed Moritz Scholtysik, one of the organizers of this initiative, which was spontaneously started out of opposition to the Archdiocese of Berlin’s decision. The decision to segregate Catholics based on vaccine status was not even imposed upon the diocese by the state. Since November 27, Holy Mass on Sundays and on feast days are restricted for the unvaccinated.

“Due to this decision by the Archdiocese,” Scholtysik told LifeSite, “some faithful were already denied Mass attendance on the first Sunday of Advent. This is disastrous. According to the catechism the faithful do have a right to receive the holy sacraments. Especially in a time when we experience fear, loneliness, and isolation, the common celebration of Holy Mass is more important than ever.”

The main organizers of this prayer vigil are five mostly young Catholics from different parishes in the Archdiocese of Berlin, and they know that already many people had written letters of protest to Berlin Archbishop Heiner Koch. After the second prayer vigil yesterday, the group also published a press release (see full text below).

“We ask him [Archbishop Koch] to make the celebration of the sacraments accessible to everyone again. In the prayer vigil, therefore, we prayed a rosary for the archbishop and the entire diocese,” co-initiator Giovanni Maria Olivari said in the release. 

In this interview with LifeSiteNews, Scholtysik stressed that the saints of the Catholic Church give us inspiration on how to deal with health crises such as our current one:

Yet the history of the church gives us so many examples of saintly women and men, who were taking care of the sick despite high risks for their own health. Moreover they always put God and the souls first. Just to name two: Saint Gregory the Great and Saint Charles Borromeo did not reduce their pastoral care in the times of the pest, but even increased it, because they knew that we – above all – need God.

Please see below the full interview:

LifeSiteNews: What is your initiative? 

Moritz Scholtysik: We organize prayer vigils in front of Hedwig’s Cathedral, the main Roman Catholic church in Berlin. We come together with candles and lanterns on the Sundays of Advent to sing hymns and pray the rosary for unrestricted access to church services in Berlin during Advent and Christmas. At our first and second vigil there were over 60 attendants.

How did it come that you organized this imitative?

The first prayer vigil was a spontaneous reaction to the decision of the Archdiocese of Berlin to impose “2G“ restrictions on church services on Sundays and feast days as of November 27. This means that only those who have a Covid-19 vaccination or recovery certificate will be admitted to the service. Thankfully there are a few exceptions, but even they have “3G“ restrictions, which means either one is vaccinated, recovered, or has a negative antigen rapid test. It is worth mentioning that this decision was made by the Archdiocese alone, there was no rule by the local government.

Due to this decision by the Archdiocese some faithful were already denied Mass attendance on the first Sunday of Advent. This is disastrous. According to the catechism the faithful do have a right to receive the holy sacraments. Especially in a time when we experience fear, loneliness, and isolation, the common celebration of Holy Mass is more important than ever.

How many people organized this initiative? Are they young and elderly, differed age groups?

We organizers are a group of five, mostly young Catholics from different parishes in the Archdiocese of Berlin. We already knew each other before these restrictions and when we talked about them, we quickly decided to organize a prayer vigil. At that time there have already been many Catholics in Berlin, who wrote e-mails to the Archdiocese to demonstrate their criticism of the new rule.

What are you hoping for with your initiative, and how long will you continue?

First of all, in the prayer vigil we pray for the Archbishop Dr. Heiner Koch and the entire Archdiocese. By standing together and demonstrating unity we ask the Archbishop to make the celebration of the sacraments accessible to everyone again. We will continue with the prayer vigils during Advent and then see, how the Archdiocese will decide on the possibilities to attend Holy Mass.

However, it is likely that we will continue praying the rosary publicly regardless from the Archdiocese’s decision, because it is the most beautiful and important sign of faith in times of crisis. Furthermore we got [a] very positive response from the participants so far, which is highly encouraging for us.

How do you see the situation in Germany in general?

Sadly the situation in Germany is quite heated. Most parties and members of parliament are now in favor of another lockdown and of a general vaccine mandate, although they have promised several times in the last few months, that both will not happen. Mainstream media usually does not criticize this, but actually denounces anyone who will question this unreasonable behavior. Therefore there is an increasing tension and division in society. Many people fear further restrictions of their freedom. Especially in this situation the guidance and the prayer of the church is very much needed.

What is your general assessment of how the Catholic Church in Germany has conducted herself in the corona crisis?

It, of course, depends on the parish. There were many good priests and religious all over Germany taking great care of the faithful during this crisis. We are also very grateful for the bishops having prevented a second ban of the Holy Mass by the government in last year’s autumn.

Still there could have been more criticism by the hierarchy of the government and the media spreading so much fear, creating division, and driving so many people into loneliness and depression. Instead of increasing the number of holy Masses, processions, and opportunities for confession many churches were closed, Holy Communion on the tongue was prohibited, and holy water fonts were emptied.

Yet the history of the church gives us so many examples of saintly women and men who were taking care of the sick despite high risks for their own health. Moreover they always put God and the souls first. Just to name two: Saint Gregory the Great and Saint Charles Borromeo did not reduce their pastoral care in the times of the pest, but even increased it, because they knew that we – above all – need God.

Do you see a connection between the failure of the Catholic Church in the corona crisis and the current Synodal Path that is taking place in Germany?

Yes. Both developments are characterized by the desire to follow the Zeitgeist instead of applying and defending the principles of the Catholic faith. If German bishops and priests were doing the latter, they would certainly find themselves in opposition to the views, presented in mainstream media and politics, but this would make the Church so much more attractive to so many people, who are desperately looking for a good shepherd right now.

Below is the group’s press release:

Faithful demand: No 2G in Berlin’s diocese 

  • Up to 60 participants at prayer vigils in front of Hedwig‘s Cathedral in Berlin
  • Call for unrestricted access to Catholic services

Between 40 and 60 faithful gathered in front of Hedwig’s Cathedral in Berlin on the first two Sundays of Advent with the claim “No 2G: Church for All” (“Kein 2G: Kirche für alle“). Together, the privately initiated group prayed for unrestricted access to church services during Advent and Christmas.

On November 28th and December 5th the participants gathered at dusk with candles and lanterns, sang the Advent hymn “Macht hoch die Tür” and prayed the rosary.

The prayer vigils were a reaction to the decision of the Archdiocese of Berlin to impose 2G restrictions on church services on Sundays as of November 27. This means that only those who have a Covid-19 vaccination or recovery certificate will be admitted to the service. Even the few exceptions have 3G restrictions. Some faithful were already denied Mass attendance on the first Sunday of Advent.

Co-initiator Moritz Scholtysik explains: “This decision is disastrous. Especially in a time when we experience fear, loneliness and isolation, the common celebration of Holy Mass is more important than ever.”

“Even though there are exceptions, a great many faithful are excluded from celebrating Holy Mass. This creates even more division in the Christian community,” co-initiator Ludwig Brühl says.

“We thank Archbishop Dr. Heiner Koch for having already eased the restrictions slightly. At the same time, we ask him to make the celebration of the sacraments accessible to everyone again. In the prayer vigil, therefore, we prayed a rosary for the archbishop and the entire diocese,” co-initiator Giovanni Maria Olivari emphasizes. The prayer vigils got a very positive response from the participants. Encouraged by the common action, they wished for a continuation of public prayer.

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