ThG 1/2024 Abstracts
Heftverantwortung: Julia Knop
Thema: Anders zu Gott sprechen/
Speaking differently to God

Mirja Kutzer
Trauma, Lyrik und Gebet.
Poetische Arbeit am Gottesbild

In speaking of God, the prayer of supplication fulfills the function generally assigned to the poetic: to mediate between subjective experience and the language of the objective, between the abyss of the unspeakable and the systems of knowledge. This necessity in particular is the result of situations where people experience violence and nameless horror. Prayers from the biblical lament to the present day create poetic spaces where the aporia between the experience of suffering and the trust in the power and goodness of God cannot be resolved but can be worked through. In doing so, they dynamize the image of God and bring it into new contact with the concrete experience of people. The poet Carola Moosbach stands in this long tradition today, writing prayers of revolt originating from the trauma of the experience of sexualised violence and adapting the image of God in her poetry of God.

Isabella Bruckner
Denkende Herzen.
Gebet und Mystik in „dürftiger Zeit“ bei Etty Hillesum

The article takes the crisis of God and prayer in the modern age as its starting point and explores the spiritual path that emerges in the diaries of the secular Jewish woman Etty Hillesum. Her notes are interpreted not only as an outstanding testimony to humanity, but also as a document of contemporary mysticism.

Annette Jantzen
Echokammer oder Resonanzraum?
Vom Verdorren der Liturgiesprache trotz reicher biblischer Quellen

The images of God used in Catholic worship have largely lost their symbolic character and are often virtually equated with the reality of God. The result is a speech about God that is hardly resonant, which is consistently gendered as male and produces corresponding exclusions. The biblical reference, however, which should be the basis of this God-talk, theology, presents itself much more differentiated and diverse. Taking this seriously, instead of reading it with the presuppositions of a structure-securing church discipline, would have clear consequences for the present ability of the church.


Theology in discourse

Markus Weißer
Inkarnierte Transzendenz
Die leibhaftige Vernetztheit des Menschen in Zeiten der Digitalität

Based on current developments associated with the digital cultural shift, this article focuses on the importance of the bodily connectedness of human beings. In view of widespread narratives and various marketing strategies of large tech companies that specifically link digital technology and religion, the critical question arises whether corporeality is still relevant to the Christian faith and its message of salvation. The conviction that the Word of God has become "flesh" points to the actual place of probation of Christian soteriology, which must assert itself against individualistic, elitist constrictions as well as against various forms of "cyber gnosis" or a spirituality that revolves around itself.

Bernhard Laux
Christliche Sozialethik – ohne
Ein Essay

The article starts from the observation that freedom is often discussed in Christian social ethics, but it is not integrated into its normative basic reflection as would be expected in view of the social-theoretical reflection in other disciplines and the liberal self-understanding of our and many other societies. It is argued that freedom, along with justice, should be understood as a normative basic principle of social ethics.

Christoph Hegge

Quo vadis, theologia?
Katholische Theologie zwischen Aufbruch und Abbruch im Licht aktueller Herausforderungen

The article is based on a lecture given on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the integration of the Erfurt School of Theology into the University of Erfurt in 2003 as part of the patronal festival of the Faculty of Catholic Theology at the University of Erfurt on St. Albertus Magnus Day on November 15, 2023. The article underlines the position of the German Bishops' Conference that a strong presence of Catholic theology at state universities offers a great opportunity for the quality of research and teaching and enables discussion with other scientific disciplines in order to provide answers to current global phenomena, crises and catastrophes based on Christian revelation. In view of the decline in young academics and the lack of young priests, the report formulates a critical readjustment of the joint responsibility of church and state, whereby the relevance of theology must legitimize the state's financial resources and Catholic theology must be constantly made plausible as an integral part of society's action knowledge and orientation knowledge.

ThG 4/2023 Abstracts
Heftverantwortung: Daniel Greb
Thema: Faszination Einhorn//Fascination unicorn

Maximilian Häberlein
Was macht das Einhorn in der Bibel? Der μονόκερως in der Septuaginta

This article investigates the term μονόκερως “unicorn,” which is attested in the LXX Pentateuch, Psalms, and Job as a translation for Hebrew re’em “wild ox.” Based on a close analysis of the LXX texts in question, it is argued that the “unicorn” fits in well with the single-horned animals described by Ctesias, Megasthenes, Aristotle, and others. Against this background, the unicorn symbolism highlights – similar to the wild ox in the Hebrew – its strength and indomitability, whereas a decidedly messianic symbolism cannot be established.

Daniel Greb
„… die Hörner der Einhörner lieben“. Die Bedeutung des Einhorns in der griechischen und lateinischen Patristik

Selected texts from the 2nd to 5th centuries are used to show how Greek and Latin theologians of the patristic era interpreted the unicorn, which they encountered in the texts of the Old Testament, in a variety of ways.

Falko Bornschein
„Als aber die Zeit erfüllt war, sandte Gott seinen Sohn“ (Gal 4,4). Zur Ikonografie der sakralen Einhornjagd am Beispiel eines Tafelbildes im Erfurter Dom aus der Zeit um 1480

Using the example of a panel painting from Erfurt Cathedral from around 1480, the article explains the specific iconography and iconology of the “sacred unicorn hunt”. It is noteworthy that Erfurt Cathedral is home to three paintings with this rare theme.

Theology in discourse

Hannah Judith / Felix Fleckenstein
Den Balanceakt zwischen Verwässerung und reformatio annehmen. Transformation als neue Leitkategorie einer pilgernden Kirche

Recognizing the crisis of the Catholic Church in Germany, the pressure to renew ecclesiological structures is intensifying. Often there is talk of transformation. Adopting the approach of transformative science(s), this article takes a system-theoretical look at church and discusses whether and, if so, how a transformation of the church of the future could be targeted.

Walter Lesch
Die Ethik und der Krieg. Standortbestimmungen und Verunsicherungen

The ethical response to experiences of war and violence is deeply unsettled by Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. Radical pacifist attitudes are perceived as cynical and rejected as politically irresponsible. The article attempts to reconstruct different modes of speech in the current controversies about forms of peace ethics that might be still appropriate today. The lament about the lost peace and the admonition to renounce violence are to be distinguished from an argumentative justification of exceptions in the case of emergency. Ethical justifications must prove themselves in practice and at the same time point to the challenges of a message of peace that is articulated in the context of religion.

The Synodal Path in World Church Perspective

Anthony J. Godzieba
Kann die Synodalität den Katholizismus retten?

The call for synodality in the church must be linked to the question of whether it is possible to overcome polarization within the church and indifference from outside. Consequences for the structure of the church are not enough. Rather, faith and the practice of faith must change in order to appeal to people in their search for happiness and fulfillment. The affectivity and aesthetics of faith are of particular importance here.

ThG 3/2023 Abstracts
Heftverantwortlichkeit: Eva Maria Welskop-Deffaa /Benedikt Kranemann
Thema: Liturgie und Caritas//Liturgy and Caritas

Eva Maria Welskop-Deffaa/Paulina Hauser
Ubi caritas et amor.
Some thoughts on the risky relationship between Liturgy and Caritas

Liturgy and Caritas are theologically inseparable, but their definitions are not infrequently discussed in a demarcating or competing way. In practice, too, the relationship is by no means self-evident, often indifferently distanced, but time and again enriching and full of tension. On the basis of some concrete examples from the German Caritas Association, a search is made for traces of how the venture of cooperation and togetherness can succeed in an inspiring way.

Joachim Reber
Liturgical celebrations and liturgical education in institutions and organisations of caritas or diakonia

Liturgical rituals and celebrations are common in many institutions and organisations of caritas or diakonia. As forms of symbolic communication, they often possess a strong power. It is necessary to make a sensible choice of the right settings and arrangements, which are appropriate to the situation and to the community. While the variety of religion or spirituality of clients, patients and employees grows, this becomes more and more important.

Lisa Kühn
Liturgy in the hospital.
A figure of credible church

Liturgical action in hospitals is church action at the interface of church and society. This location gives rise to the need to design liturgy in a situation-sensitive way. The article outlines what constitutes such a sensitive design and where its limits lie. On the basis of sound bites, an insight into the practice of hospital chaplaincy is given.

Benedikt Kranemann/Kerstin Menzel
"... have no pleasure in our pain".
Diaconal dimensions of services after disasters

According to the self-understanding of the Protestant and Catholic churches, liturgy and social, charitable action are mutually dependent. One form of liturgy in which this happens in public are services after disasters. The essay shows with ecumenical interest what diaconicity means for such services: in their participation in the social discourse about what has happened, in the opening of forms of speech and action, in the encouragement of mutual help and in the opening of the horizon beyond the current suffering.

Theology in discourse

Manfred Belok
Just a crisis or a turning point?
For a reorientation of church structures and canon law

Due to the immense, self-inflicted loss of trust, credibility and reputation of the Church as an institution, the leadership of the Roman Catholic Church is faced with the challenge of finally recognising the "signs of the times", overcoming the paralysing unwillingness to reform and, strengthened by its self-claim as "ecclesia semper reformanda", proving itself capable of reform and making fundamental changes in doctrine and canon law.

The Synodal Path in World Church Perspective

Daniel Kosch
Between Frankfurt and Rome
Synodal paths in the midst of multiple church crises

The Catholic Church in Switzerland is faced with the task of seeking its own path to a synodal church between the Synodal Path of the Catholic Church in Germany ("Frankfurt") and the World Synod ("Rome"). This proves to be both a challenge and an opportunity. For in view of the two very different paths, it becomes apparent that both are necessary: on the one hand, taking the crisis of the Church seriously, including its systemic causes, and on the other hand, being sensitive to the necessity of a spiritually shaped synodal process based on the common mission of all the baptized. In addition, it is indispensable to take into account the peculiarities of Swiss Catholicism, namely the democratically constituted structures of state-church law.

ThG 2/2023 Abstracts
Heftverantwortlichkeit: Thomas Johann Bauer
Thema: Wozu (noch) Kirche(n)?/Why (still) the church(es)?

Thomas Johann Bauer
Church of God ... purchased by the blood of his own Son (Acts 20:28).
Confession and transformation of the post-Easter Jesus movement

"Church" is taken for granted in the New Testament writings as a reality whose necessity is not questioned. However, anyone who wants to critically question the necessity of a "church" today, based on the testimony of the New Testament, must come to terms with the fact that Jesus of Nazareth did not found a "church" and that the "church" only emerged gradually after Jesus' death. Whether and to what extent there is divine planning and guidance behind the long and difficult process of the emergence of the "church", from which the necessity of the "church" and normative guidelines for its institutions and practices can be derived, cannot be decided on the path of historical analysis.

Regina Elsner
Churches at war: The end of taking things for granted

Christian churches have played an important role in Russia's war against Ukraine since 2014. As warmongers and potential peacemakers, much attention has been paid to the Orthodox churches in both countries. However, historical circumstances and current socio-political developments must be taken into account in order to arrive at a realistic assessment of the churches and their influence on the war.

Timothy Radcliffe OP
The impossible necessity of the church today

The church today is seen by many as an outdated patriarchal institution that excludes women from leadership positions and rejects freedom of thought. Its credibility is seen as finally destroyed by the abuse scandal, and many therefore reject any form of "institutional religion". But God has promised the birth of a "holy nation" that has taken the unexpected form of Jesus' community of saints and sinners. This community is founded on the triumph of resurrection over sin and death. As the fruit of the creative grace of Jesus' resurrection, the Church is not only necessary but also holy. What this means will be presented on the basis of the "McCabe Affair", which was triggered when a prominent English theologian left the church because of its depravity. In doing so, the paper also asks about the unity of the church, which transcends individual religious experiences and interpretations of the gospel. Unity is held together in conversations in which the church lives. John Henry Newman shows the diversity of authorities that must be heard in this conversation if the way forward is sought in the synodal process of the universal church.

Theology in discourse

Julia Knop
Women and queer people do not have the same rights as heterosexual men in the Roman Catholic Church. Is this discrimination? Church documents firmly reject this accusation. Rather, the Church follows the divine will for women and men when it withholds sacramental ordination from women and church blessing from same-sex couples. Human dignity is thus significantly reinterpreted. It is counter-gendered in Catholic terms. Freedom rights are conditioned in a gender-specific way. Academic theologians must deal with this discrepancy in a reflective way and take a well-founded position.

The Synodal Path in World Church Perspective

Birgit Weiler
The Synodal Path of the Church in Germany and Synodal Reform Processes in Latin America and the Caribbean.
A contribution from the perspective of Amazonia

Since years, in my work I am connected with the local Churches in Amazonia and I had been invited to participate in the Amazon Synod (2019). Currently I am involved in the process of the implementation of various Synod resolutions. Therefore, the following contribution is written from the perspective of Amazonia. As at the same time, I am engaged in the synodal process at the level of the Council of Bishops of Latin America and the Caribbean (CELAM) and the synodal activities initiated and coordinated by it, in my article I will focus on both realities.

ThG 1/2023 Abstracts
Heftverantwortlichkeit: Maria Widl
Thema: Seelsorge in der Krise/Pastoral Care in Crisis

Jan Loffeld
Healing …
Options for Pastoral Care under Forced Secular Conditions

Pastoral care today is confronted with a multi-layered phenomenon of indifference: religiously, spiritually, and even concerning the question of meaning – many people remain increasingly unmoved. This indifference makes it necessary to shift familiar paradigms and understand pastoral care no longer as institutional care but as a new interest in healing people in their complex problems and processes of self-cosmicization. To this end, it could be helpful to learn from experiences in areas such as the spiritual care sector, where pastoral care has already fully embraced secular reasoning. For here, the structure of salvation and hope of faith is already embodied in a completely new way.

Ute Leimgruber
Pastoral Care as a Gender-specific Vulnerance- and Resilience-Space – a Problem Indication

Women in the Catholic Church are affected by different, genderspecific abuse strategies and dynamics. It is only in recent years that women have been perceived as victims of sexual and spiritual abuse. It can be observed that many perpetrators were grooming and committing the violence in the context of pastoral relationships. The texts of the Synodal Forum III "Women in Ministries and Offices in the Church" of the German Synodal Path draw attention to these dangers in pastoral care. In fact, there is a specific power to victimise, due to the theological and structural power differential. To grasp the interdependent abuse potentials the term “vulnerance” as a readiness to use violence in connection with vulnerabilities is used. Pastoral care relationships contain personal and structural vulnerances including gender-specific factors. Therefore it is an enduring challenge for practical theology that pastoral care is equally a place where women are abused and exploited and at the same time where their resilience can be fostered.

Peter Hundertmark
Challenged by victims.
Pastoral care after spiritual abuse

Spiritual abuse is defined as a term and described as "emprise", the access of one person to the personality of another person dependent on him or her. The focus of the article is then on attitudes and behaviours that enable pastoral workers to empathically and professionally assist victims of spiritual abuse. A distinction is made between the initial situations of existing or broken perpetrator identification.

Georg Toporowsky
A question of attitude.
Pastoral care in the Eifel National Park and at the former Nazi Ordensburg Vogelsang: Workshop report on an innovative church experience and learning site

What factors contribute to the fact that pastoral care "succeeds", that people today experience it as important for their lives and their faith, that pastoral care is experienced as identity-forming and "healing"? We have identified these success factors for our own work as pastoral care in the Eifel National Park and Vogelsang in order to ensure and develop the quality of our work.  Essential ones of these will be presented in this article and can provide pointers for pastoral care that is relevant to the present.

The Synodal Path in World Church Perspective

Stefan Gärtner
Back to the future?
The Netherlands and the Synodal Path

How do Dutch Catholics react to the Synodal Path in Germany? The precarious situation of their church and the disappointed expectations regarding synodality at the Pastoral Council in their own country in the 1960/1970s shape their opinions: there is critical opposition and skeptical approval.


Theology in discourse

Norbert Clemens Baumgart
"Happy are those who meditate on wisdom!"
Sermon at the service for the patronal feast of Albertus Magnus of the Faculty of Catholic Theology in Erfurt

The sermon was preached on 15 November 2022 in Erfurt Cathedral. The lectionary provides for Sir 15:1–6 as the reading on the feast of St. Albertus Magnus. In the service, the larger context of Sir 14:20 – 15:10 was read in order to do justice to an appropriate delimitation of the pericope.

ThG 4/2022 Abstracts
Heftverantwortlicher: Jörg Seiler
Thema: Erfurter Universitätsgeschichte/Erfurt University History

Robert Gramsch-Stehfest / Vanessa Krypczyk
Data mining in the medieval register of the University of Erfurt

A pilot project on the medieval history of the University of Erfurt is presented, in which the short biographical data on 8,912 students who matriculated in Erfurt between 1392 and 1430 were extracted semi-automatically from the register. The scan of the relevant edition by J. C. H. Weissenborn was digitised with OCR software, the resulting text file was post-processed by the project editor and finally converted into a data table with a so-called parser. The project briefly outlines evaluation possibilities and possible expansions of the database created in this way for more in-depth prosopographical research on the medieval University of Erfurt.

Barbara Marshall
The (Re-)Foundation of the University of Erfurt

This article examines the futile East German efforts to re-found the old University of Erfurt, where Luther had already studied. It was established as a newly founded "reform university" by West German politicians and academics. In times of financial constraints, some ambitious goals could only be realised to a limited extent.

Theology in discourse

Gregor Maria Hoff
Spheres of emptiness

On the fundamental theological significance of the pandemic
The Corona pandemic intervenes in the political and cultural understanding of world society in many ways. As a permanent-acute danger, it not only changes socially taken-for-granted processes and political plausibilities. It raises questions of meaning that become virulent under the living conditions of the pandemic because it redefines the boundaries and transitions between life and death. The essay explores the question of what this time-typological transformation means for religions and from a theological perspective.

Alexander Deeg
In-between Spaces: We - I - the Others

On current transformation dynamics of sacred spaces between demarcations and demarcations
The paper develops a theory of sacred spaces by describing the current transformations of church buildings in Germany. The tension between demarcation and opening is one characteristic of sacred spaces; the fact that sacred spaces are used for a community, for individuals, and for “others” who do not belong to the community is another characteristic. In these dimensions, transformations of sacred spaces seem paradigmatic for current challenges of transformations for Catholic and Protestant churches.

The Synodal Path in World Church Perspective

Walter Lesch
The Synodal Path from a Belgian perspective.
Similarities and differences in the perceptions of the crisis of the church

The Synodal Path chosen by the Catholic Church in Germany has been commented on by observers from abroad. They regularly produce misrepresentations because of a lack of knowledge concerning the German situation or because of a significantly different context in the observers’ countries of origin. The specific case of Belgium shows how cultural and structural differences have an impact on interpretations and judgements. A self-critical and detached view can ideally improve the conditions of a better understanding among people from neighbour countries.

ThG 3/2022 Abstracts
Heftverantwortliche: Myriam Wijlens
Thema: Laien und Leitungsvollmacht/Lay People and Governance Authority

Myriam Wijlens
Lay Participation in Governance.
New Canonical Possibilities Require Theological Reflection

In a church marked by synodality, the question of lay persons participation in its governance arises increasingly. The question is whether such participation is dependent on ordination or not. A careful analysis shows that there are different schools of thought, but that there has been a continuous development on this question. Not only history reveals that laity exercised jurisdiction, as of 1971 lay men and as of 1983 also lay women can be judges which clearly implies exercising jurisdiction. Most remarkably, pope Benedict XVI changed the notion of deacon and with that the notion of cleric. Also pope Francis made changes in that he allowed for two lay persons to form a collegial tribunal with a cleric, who could be a married deacon. The study highlights the canonical developments and discussions, and distils from them questions that arise for theology. In a synodal church, these questions ought to be reflected by a theology which itself is synodal.

Alphonse Borras
Sacra potestas – The Only Foundation for the Participation of Laity in Church Governance?

Is the concept of sacra potestas the only way to reflect lay participation in the governance of the church? After determining the nature and scope of sacra potestas in Vatican II (I), the study describes how Vatican II prefers the notion of the tria munera as conferred through episcopal ordination, without, however, disqualifying the binomial potestas ordinis (power of orders) and potestas jurisdictionis (power of jurisdiction) (II). The latter reappears in the 1983 Code of Canon Law and determines the possibilities for lay persons to participate in the governance of the church (III). Finally, the study raises the question whether, when addressing the topic of the participation of laity in the governance of the church, instead of starting from the perspective of potestas (of clergy) one should consider it in the framework of the ecclesia and its mission, i.e., its cura animarum (IV).

Dario Vitali
Synodality as a Horizon for a New Understanding of Ministries and Offices in the Church

On the basis of the Second Vatican Council, the analysis of the current understanding of ministries in the Catholic Church as reflected in the Moto proprios Ministeria quaedam (Pope Paul VI), Spiritus domini and Antiquum ministerium (Pope Francis) will reveal how an understanding of the church shapes the understanding of ministries. Against the background of understanding the church as synodal, the study develops how, within the framework of this ecclesiological model, a synodal process of discernment about the various ministries and offices must also take place.

Theology in Discourse

Stefan Walser
Is Everybody Religious?
Fundamental Theological Reflections on „homo naturaliter religiosus“

Homo naturaliter religiosus – are human beings by their very nature religious? The question of the anthropological foundation of religion is investigated systematically by taking recourse to the positions of Wolfhart Pannenberg, Ingolf U. Dalferth and Karl Rahner. Particular attention is paid to the interdisciplinary dialogue with secular anthropologies. In the face of increasing religious indifference, fundamental theology, referring to Eberhard Tiefensee, has a double task: 1. to bring the theological perspective into the current anthropological discourses; 2. preserve the possibility of a religious hermeneutics of human experience and self-consciousness.

The Synodal Path in World Church Perspective

Paul M. Zulehner
Quite Similar and Yet so Different.
On the Synodal Pathways in Germany and Austria

This article undertakes the risky attempt to compare the two Synodal Paths in Germany and Austria. In itself, currently undertaking such a project would come close to being negligent and therefore inadvisable. It is like doing open-heart surgery, because both processes are in full swing. The process in Germany is already somewhat more advanced than the one in Austria and will most likely take even longer to unfold. In Austria, the preparatory phase for the worldwide synodal process is near completion. Nevertheless, the basic “synodalisation” of these two churches will remain an ongoing project in both of them.

ThG 2/2022 Abstracts
Heftverantwortlicher: Josef Römelt
Thema: Wege aus der Diskriminierung/Ways out of discrimination

Wolfgang Palaver
Fraternity can reduce xenophobia

Fear of strangers can be traced back to the beginnings of human cultures. Anthropologically, René Girard's mimetic theory helps to better under-stand the observations. Unlike Freud or Lorenz, he does not assume an aggression instinct, but explains the potential for conflict in human coexistence with those rivalries that arise from imitative desire. There is hope that religious communities will live out fraternity within their own ranks, in which fear of strangers and xenophobia lose their significance.

Ursula Nothelle-Wildfeuer
Participation as a question of credibility.
Equitable participation of women in office and power in the Church

The originally social-ethical question of the just participation of women is now necessarily addressed to the church itself. The answer to this is crucial for the women who are (still) involved in the church as well as for the credibility of the church in the 21st century as a whole. A church that does not take this demand for participation seriously has no chance, neither sociologically nor theologically, and ultimately does not do justice to its own demands, which have so far been addressed "only" to society.

Thomas Bahne
Age discrimination in medicine?

Based on patterns of age discrimination in curative health care documented in the sixth geriatric report of the German Federal Government (1), the article asks about the relevance of age as a decision criterion for the fair allocation of scarce resources in medicine (2). In this context, the bioethical concept of vulnerability (3), which justifies the protection against a concealed rationing of old age, is contrasted with the various forms of rationing.

Josef Römelt
The end of discrimination – Church and society on the way

Overcoming discrimination is at the centre of today's political discourse. Xenophobia, homophobia, lack of equality, disregard for patients' rights must be overcome! However, this effort is about differentiated perception and change. On the way to this, church and society influence each other.



Daniela Bethge
The church, that's not the pastor! – Experiences and insights from Eastern Germany

In the context of the church, involvement, participation and responsibility are largely understood as sociological categories. It is worthwhile to understand these terms consistently theologically, meaning "from the perspective of God", and to take a look at Christian spirituality theology in the process. The transformation of the Church's role affects everyone – clergy, laity and religious – it is essentially a change of perception towards the perspective of God, who walks his path with humanity. As a community of people oriented towards the way of thinking and living of God and Jesus, the Church has a special significance in this process. In the first place, this transformation of the church's role concerns the personal relationship of all believers with God and Christ.

ThG Abstracts 1-2022

Discourses on identity politics and their impact on women

"Identity" has become a decisive argument of contemporary social debate, which, as the discourse on "identity politics" makes clear, is associated with numerous problematic issues. As important as collective associations are for one's own identity definition and formation, from a socio-ethical perspective they cannot become the central criterion for shaping a just society. This is especially true when identity is thought of in singular terms and group concerns are placed above the preservation of (human) rights. The example of the human rights situation of women illustrates this.

Climate ethics viewed socially and ethically in the context of other cultural issues

Due to its serious effects on present and future generations, but also due to the necessity to think and act globally, climate change is an important topic in social ethics. This article focuses on the question of how these ecological interests interact with those of other cultural spheres and how balanced solutions can be found.

Social cohesion in a migration society

Social cohesion or, to put it another way, societal cohesion is the question of the extent to which societies stand together behind political decisions or the extent to which issues and societal problems such as war, flight and other dilemmatic situations demand that viable and constructive approaches to solutions can emerge. This aspect is examined with regard to the migration of refugees.

Women's Diaconate from historical-inclusive perspective

The study "The Diaconate: Development and Perspectives" of the International Theological Commission from 2003 was based on the intention to end the discourse about a possible ordination of women. By means of a critical analysis of historical findings, supplemented by a dogmatic argumentation, the women's diaconate was to be refuted. A narrow hermeneutic of the "diakonos" in the early church helped to rule out the desired opening of the diaconate to women. However, one could in no way compare the deaconesses with the actual deacons and their congregational functions, let alone equate them. Historical discrepancies persist, however. They cannot justify an exclusionary attitude towards women. The modern overcoming of patriarchalism and the advancing gender equality demand a rethink from the official church. This was recently supported by the 3rd Synodal Assembly of the Synodal Path in Germany (3.–5.2.2022), which, with a view to the principle of gender justice, advocated the establishment of a sacramental diaconate for women. This article undertakes a brief analysis of historical findings that confirm the practice of women's diaconate in the early church in order to argue for a women's diaconate on their basis and in the context of a positive-inclusive understanding of church and faith.



The order of the liturgy, the liturgy of order.
Role formation and role conflicts in ecclesiastical rituals

Studying liturgies reveals the degree to which they draw on normative order to ensure their performative functioning. However, this is a two-way process: liturgies draw on order to function effectively, but in functioning effectively they also reproduce and reinforce their normative framework. In applying liturgical norms, liturgies affirm and reinstate these norms, even creating new norms in the process. One function of liturgies is therefore to create their own normative framework, but they also create, affirm and reinforce bundles of norms such as liturgical roles. The connection between these two functions merits particular attention. This contribution examines the issue in three steps: the first step analyses how liturgies contribute to producing norms; the second step examines how they generate roles; the third step looks at cases in which their various statutes and roles confront individuals with role conflicts, and how they respond to these conflicts. These three points provide a clear illustration of why role conflicts deriving from Catholic liturgies are increasingly motivating Catholics to reject the role expectations and behavioural requirements that are created and reinforced in Catholic worship, leading them to withdraw from the ritual community.

ThG Abstracts 4-2021

„Denk an deinen Schöpfer“ (Koh 12,1).
Kohelet im Lichte der Schöpfungstheologie gelesen

Nature is understood in the Book of Kohelet as God's creation. In a way, it is itself a book that only needs to be read in the right way. For the "man in the beginning", creation was an open book that unmistakably spoke of God.

„Himmel und Erde erfüllend“ – Schöpfungsmotive im Jeremiabuch

The extent of the creation motif in the Book of Jeremiah and special expressions for it show that this motif is one of the book's central concerns. YHWH is the only Creator of the whole universe, ever present and active in it, shaping history, individuals and human communities.

„Schöpfung“ und Transformation.
Überlegungen zum Schöpfungsdiskurs im Ezechielbuch

As exile literature, the Book of Ezekiel deals with the collapse of supporting institutions and the accompanying crisis phenomena in the Babylonian exile (6th century BC). Ezekiel's task is to accompany the people of YHWH on their way through the crisis. In this dramatic process of decline and new beginning, the theme of "creation" belongs as part of a broader context of justification.

Die Städtegründungen hellenistischer Könige und die Rede von Gott als dem „ktistes“

The article presents the semantics of ktistes in Greek Hellenistic times. The common translation for ktistes is usually „creator“, but the use in Greek Hellenistic times denotes „founder“ and is normally used for the king who founded a city. It is an important appellation for the king and seems to be known to the biblical authors. What are the theological consequences, when God is referred to as ktistes, for example, in the Book of Judith or in the Books of Maccabees?


Umsonst. Gedanken zu einer Hermeneutik der Hoffnung

The term "umsonst" [for nothing], which in German oscillates between "in vain" and "free of charge", currently appears regularly in public discourse and in personal statements. Upon closer inspection, the subtleties in its meaning reveal the dialectical-metaphysical position of humanity and the drama of life's fulfilment.

In animo contrite.
Das Phänomen des sexuellen Missbrauchs in Mittel- und Osteuropa im größeren Kontext betrachtet

The Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, established by Pope Francis in 2014, in cooperation with the Polish Bishops' Conference, held a Child Protection Conference in Warsaw in September 2021, which also dealt with the issue of handling abuse in the (post-)‌communist countries. The Czech sociologist, philosopher of religion and priest Tomáš Halík gave a lecture on this topic, which is published here in a German translation. The differences in the perception of and dealing with abuse in different countries are analysed especially with regard to the (post-)communist countries. The crisis caused by abuse is compared with the crisis caused by the sale of indulgences at the beginning of the 16th century. Halik considers it to be a systemic crisis. It can only be overcome by a new understanding of the role of the Church in society. The Church must face the crisis without falling into fear or even panic.

ThG Abstracts 3-2021

Christian Kummer
Hat die Theologie den Naturwissenschaften im interdisziplinären Dialog etwas zu sagen?

It is common opinion that the domains of science and theology occupy distinctly different working fields. Yet the objects of their respective investigations meet at the nexus of human consciousness, which prompts an interdisciplinary exchange. In this dialogue, theology must defend the peculiarity of mental phenomena as conceivable only from a first-person-perspective against an explanatory “nothing-else-buttery” of materialism. Thus, following Teilhard de Chardin, one may see evolution as culminating in a proper world of the human mind, which emerges from merely biological life through the critical point of self-consciousness. – Another challenge for both disciplines is to find a rationale for the unifying horizon that guides us to integrate the heteronomous multitude of research data into the whole of a coherent empirical world. (Ed. by courtesy of Christof Wolf.)

Ulrich Lüke
Schöpfungstheologie und Evolutionstheorie. Versuch einer Befriedung

The article takes up the historical process of estrangement between evolutionary biology and theology of creation, relativizes the common “dogma of the irreconcilability of opposites” and subjects the biological drafts aiming at an elimination of the idea of creation to a critical examination. By means of the concept of the “strict presence” he makes it possible to think of an action of God in the world which is also free of objections from the point of view of natural science and which at the same time abolishes the diastasis between creatio ex nihilo and creatio continua.

Alexander Loichinger
Mensch, Aliens, Multiversum

The Essay is concerned with two actual and speculative Themes: What would happen, if Extraterrestrial Intelligent Life exists? What would happen, if we live in a multiplicity of Worlds?

Christian Seitz
Dialog auf Metaebene. Wissenschaftstheoretische und historische Überlegungen zur Interdisziplinarität von Theologie und Naturwissenschaft

The dialogue between theology and science can be analyzed in terms of content and method. The following remarks concern scientific-theoretical aspects and methodological questions of the dialogue between theology and natural science. In addition, there is an outline of the history of theology on the interdisciplinarity of theology and natural science. The aim will be to show that the interdisciplinarity of theology and natural science takes place on a meta-level, where the empirically obtained, pure data are always available in an interpreted way.


Daniel Greb
Die Synagoge als Gottesdienstgebäude und Lehrhaus aus der Sicht der Christen des 2. bis 4. Jahrhunderts
On the basis of selected texts from the 2nd to the 4th century it is shown how Christian theologians looked at the synagogue in the context of their literary discussion with Judaism and evaluated the processes taking place there.

Andree Burke
Was bedeutet „pastoral“? Pastoralität als Ereignis

The adjective “pastoral” is a technical term whose meaning is not self-evident. In the language of the church it appears every day. But what it refers to – the relationship between Jesus of Nazareth and those who encountered him – requires reflection in order to become perceptible. Pastorality unfolds in events and spaces that reveal the boundaries of human life. At these borders a third party can come into play, possibly quite discreetly, and be discovered in retrospect, who is able to transform existence and life.

ThG Abstracts 2-2021

Thomas Schumacher
Herrlichkeit oder Ausstrahlung? Evidenzerfahrung als Grundmotiv biblischer δόξα/doxa-Aussagen      

In the theological discourse on beauty, the Greek term δόξα/doxa is in the focus when it comes to a biblical foundation. The article outlines its developments in the history of the term, asks about its semantic profile and its inner center, and develops a thesis on a historical-semantic path that understands a resonance event or the appearance of evidence as the core moment of a theological δόξα/doxa and also beauty concept.

Ursula Schumacher
„Wer die Schönheit angeschaut mit Augen …“. Phänomene von Schönheitserfahrung in systematisch-theologischer Deutung

Recent systematic reflection on the topic of beauty has been marginal at best and offers few points of departure for contemporary aesthetic orientation. The article therefore proposes an approach that deals with the spectrum of phenomena of intensive experience of beauty. For this purpose, exemplary literary testimonies are evaluated and made fruitful for a theological reflection.

Holger Zaborowski  
Skandal, Horizont, Erlösung. Von der Schönheit des Kreuzes

This essay discusses the question whether the cross – a “scandal” until today – can be beautiful in its artistic representation. After a critique of problematic approaches to what “beautiful” means, it shows how a new horizon can open up eventfully in the beauty of the cross. Against the background of the connection between the beautiful and the good, the talk of a redemptive power of beauty and the historical-cultural significance of the cross also become understandable.

Marie-Luise Reis
Der schöne Herr Jesus

This article discusses some art-historical examples of portrayals of Jesus and raises the question of the extent to which traditional expectations of an idealized image of Christ override the approach to the historical man, the Jew Jesus, and continue to make demands on the Christian-Jewish dialogue. With a view to a portrait of Christ by the artist A. Jawlensky, influenced by icon painting, the aspect of mystical appropriation of the image is examined. The apt term "picture devotion" stands for a process of seeing that initiates a possible process of inner transformation in the viewer through the perception of the picture’s content.


Sabine Demel
Vollmacht und Synodalität – ein Widerspruch? Ein Theorie-Praxis-Check aus theologisch-rechtlicher Perspektive

The lack of sharing of power in the Catholic Church is widely regarded as a decisive factor in the fact that the Catholic Church, despite the often invoked synodality, still has little synodal character. This raises the following questions: 1. Why is there no sharing of power in the Catholic Church? 2. What are the effects of the lack of the sharing of power in the Church? 3. What future prospects are there? The answer to these questions leads to an appeal to overcome clerical-episcopal power with synodality.

ThG Abstracts 1-2021

Bewährungsprobe Synodalität. Ein gemeinsames Ringen um die Zukunftsgestalt der Kirche

The Synodal Path is under pressure: supporters associate it with great expectations, critics try to expose it as a non-binding discussion process. After almost two years, the reform path of the Catholic Church in Germany is slowly taking on its own contours under the observation of the universal church. With a “look behind the scenes”, this article provides information about the Synodal Path, its not always straightforward but exciting initial phase, the growing together at various levels, perceptible changes in mentality, future hurdles, lingering dissent, and other game-changing moments.

Umkehr und Erneuerung. Der Synodale Weg im Kontext der Weltkirche

The Synodal Path does not only occupy the Catholic Church in Germany; it attracts worldwide attention: It faces the task of mastering the special challenge resulting from the pastoral situation in Germany on the one hand, and intensifying cohesion in the universal Church, not least with the Holy See, on the other. This task demands a critical reflection on the occasion, the form, the international dialogue and the future prospects of the Synodal Path. It shows paradigmatically that the synodal element in the Catholic Church must be programmatically continued, so that the bishops are not isolated, but better placed in the context of the entire People of God.

Der Synodale Weg in Deutschland. Eindrücke und Erfahrungen von innen

In the four synodal forums, the think tanks of the Synodal Path, the thematic fields are discussed and texts are prepared for the synodal assembly. For each forum, one member presents thematic reflections and experiences from the work in the four synodal forums: What is discussed and how is this done? How does church debate culture succeed in this format? How is church experienced here? How is church (doctrinal) development shaped?

Der Synodale Weg in Deutschland. Eindrücke und Beobachtungen von außen

Most Catholics in the Czech Republic unfortunately have little information and little interest in what is happening in the churches of neighboring countries. There are still many prejudices, stereotypes and fear of contact. Many Christians suffered a “culture shock” in the encounter with Western-style churches after the fall of communism. But for others, the time of persecution was Kairos of purification of the church from former triumphalism and clericalism. In the current polarized times, this part of the Church (a small but vibrant minority) – in many cases sympathizers of Pope Francis – is activated. These people follow the synodal process in the German Church with sympathy and expectation. But they also ask a number of critical questions.

Theologie und Gesellschaft

Voll(e) Macht. Eine politische Perspektive

Forms of participation can vary greatly in different areas of life. However, it is a fundamental requirement of modern societies that people are actively involved in the decisions that affect them. Political participation cannot settle questions of truth, but can produce compromises, which is why the question of transferability to the religious sphere arises. Nevertheless, the past years show that the church, too, is dependent on renewal and on broader participation.


Lassen sich Tierversuche ethisch begründen?
Grundsätzliche Überlegungen zur Tierversuchsproblematik
This article discusses the problem of animal experimentation in the context of strongly differentiated animal ethical positions. After a brief historical outline of the problem and a sketch of the present debate on animal ethics, the focus is on medical-ethical and legal questions of present animal ethics and animal experimentation practice. The author argues for a well-founded gradation in the context of the moral significance of living beings.

ThG Abstracts 4-2020

Thomas Johann Bauer
Dem Sinnlosen Sinn geben? Die Gottesfrage in der Krise von Pandemie und Krankheit

Experiencing the actual Corona pandemic and thinking about many people still dying and suffering, even Christian believers may ask if it is reasonable to believe in an almighty God who is good and gracious. The present situation is reason enough to take a closer look on how epidemic and diseases are explained in biblical texts and described in the cultural history of the western world.

Veronika Hoffmann
Hat Gott dunkle Seiten? Der gewalttätige Gott des Buches Josua als „Testfall“

Does God have dark sides? From the large theological field of work on this question, the narrative of the violent conquest of Canaan in Jos 6-12 is chosen as a “test case”. How do we deal with a text that, claiming canonical authority, portrays a violent God? Historical and exegetical explanations help, but by themselves do not solve the problem. Is the biblical God a God who embraces all of reality and therefore also embodies its ambivalence? Or can there be justifiable objections to biblical images of God?

Thomas Johann Bauer
Abseits von Güte und Liebe. Dunkle und erschreckende Züge neutestamentlicher Gottesbilder

The God of the New Testament cannot simply be characterized as “good”. It should not be denied and ignored that New Testament writings often talk about God and his actions in a way that may be confusing and difficult for Christians today. Christian theology has to accept that even the God of the New Testament remains a mystery to human knowledge and thinking so that the way he acts can never be understood completely.


Thomas Brose
Zweifelnd, gläubig und widerständig. Zur Bedeutung katholischer Prägungen im Werk Günter de Bruyns

Günter de Bruyn is characterized by a truthful approach to his own history; he avoids know-it-all attitude and arrogance. The writer makes clear where for him sources of authorship are to be found in the field of tension between literature, power and truth: Being Catholic in the Berlin diaspora – so the thesis of this essay – meant for him to seek support in faith and to let it impregnate his existence and his later writing.


Stephan Winter
 „Die Wort-Gottes-Feier als sacra celebratio“. Anmerkungen zu einer liturgiewissenschaftlichen Neuerscheinung von Wolfgang Meurer

The celebration of the Word of God has become – in various forms – part of the fixed liturgical repertoire of many Roman Catholic congregations. However, its ecclesiological status as well as its liturgy-theologically appropriate design are the subject of many discussions. Wolfgang Meurer's dissertation on liturgical studies in Bonn, published in 2019, provides an important basis for this discussion with its concise reconstruction of the actual intention of the Council in calling for the introduction of this form in SC 35,4 as well as the complex history of its reception up to the present day.

ThG Abstracts 3-2020

Maike Lämmerhirt
Die mittelalterlichen jüdischen Gemeinden in Erfurt – neue Forschungsansätze und -ergebnisse

Despite early scientific publications, Jewish life in medieval Erfurt was long overshadowed by other regions and communities in the research of Jewish history. After the opening of the Old Synagogue Museum, the support of scientific research as part of the planned World Heritage application may well have contributed to the increased perception of Erfurt. Moreover, new questions bring completely different perspectives to the Jewish community in Erfurt in the Middle Ages.

Maria Stürzebecher
Die (Wieder-)Entdeckung und der Umgang mit dem jüdischen Erbe in Erfurt nach 1989

It is only in the last two decades that the Jewish heritage of the city of Erfurt has come into the focus of research. The decisive impetus has been provided by the rediscovery of important buildings and material artefacts such as the Small and Old Synagogues, the medieval mikveh and the Erfurt treasure. These led to intensive research into the history of the Jewish communities, which continues to this day and promises exciting results in the future.

Olaf Glöckner
Zwischen Klassenkampf und Synagoge. Die jüdische Gemeinschaft in der DDR

This text describes how Jews in the GDR were individually striving for respect and their own place in socialist society, often bitterly disappointed. Especially the (demographically) small local Jewish communities were facing a mix of state-run care, distrust and political paternalism for decades. The Jewish communities had to survive self-sufficiently, since they were also isolated from the Western World and from Israel. They developed their own identities and held on community spirit till the end of Cold War, German re-unification and the (saving) in-migration of Russian speaking Jews up from 1990.

Dagmar Mensink
An einem neuen Punkt. Überlegungen zum Stand des jüdisch-katholischen Dialogs

At the moment there is a noticeably frequent balance sheet in the Christian-Jewish dialogue. The need to determine one’s position is understandable from the fact that almost all contexts have changed in Germany – the participants, the issues and the church and social framework. In addition, there is the scientific paradigm shift concerning the development of Christianity out of Judaism. But the dialogue also calls for a new step theologically – for the recognition of contemporary Judaism without being taken in for Christian identity. 55 years after Nostra aetate, new borderlines are needed in which terms and images are examined, further developed and tested in an interdisciplinary and at the same time Judeo-Christian exchange.


Saskia Wendel
Signaturen einer zukünftigen Theologie

Regarding theology’s growing challenge as an academic discipline, it should not primarily be justified through functionality. Instead it can be justified with regard to its contents: In the future, theology is determined to implement its professional specification as an expert for normative reflexion in the Christian practice of faith and its translation work within a plural cultural setting on an organisational level.

Thomas Bahne
Gibt es eine Medizinethik jenseits einer Ethik des Heilens? Jennifer Doudna plädiert für eine gesellschaftliche Debatte zur CRISPR-Technologie

Molecular biological instruments, which enable targeted interventions in the human genome for therapeutic or preventive measures as well as for the purpose of optimizing human properties are available to human medicine at a progressive rate. Jennifer Doudna, the American co-discoverer describes the revolutionary potential of this technology as a tsunami which changes dramatically everything alive. Celebrated as an instrument of God, the CRISPR technology, which empowers the human being to steer the evolution of our own species, is from an ethical perspective a double-edged sword, against whose incurable consequences the authors warn at the same time.

Paul M. Zulehner
Straßburg revisited - Perspektiven für Europa in den Augen von Papst Franziskus

Nationalists are anti-Europeans. But the history of Europe is a constant process of growing together. The Europe of the time after the two world wars is a so far successful peace project. But the foundation of peace is the balance between freedom and justice. Both great values have been fought over in the last centuries. The Christian churches and other world religions, such as Judaism and Islam, have participated in this struggle with commitment and thus tried to give Europe a soul. But this wrestling is never over. Freedom, justice and truth prove to be treasures in fragile vessels.

ThG Abstracts 2-2020

Hans-Jochen Luhmann
Das Problem, das sich im bisherigen Scheitern der Nachhaltigkeits-Agenda zeigt. Eine Hinführung

The sustainability agenda, as globally decided on in the 1990ies, is the answer on an elementary threat: to men by men. This „anthropogenic“ kind of threat has first been perceived in the case of nuclear weapons, the option of “overkilling” each other – the answer has been the nuclear arms-control agenda. In both cases, it led to a high degree of public interest there for several decades; but in effect, both agendas still lack a sustainable success. Mankind is still threatening itself.
The question is: How to respond today? It might be suggesting, to reiterate the approach which has been followed in the first cycle of attracting attention. I. e. an agenda of emphazising the threat, which is now in much more details analyzed with scientific means. This is a horrifying approach, which would be much more substantiated as in the first cycle. But such a repeated approach would lack the experience made with the failure so far. We are able to draw lessons from the failure. Here, the recommended approach for the second cycle is to focus on the design of a political concept, if it, as a concept, is capable of promising a sustainable success. The climate policy has been chosen as an example to illustrate this thesis in detail.

Katrin Bederna
Zukunftsverantwortung in Zeiten planetarer Grenzüberschreitungen

A central yet vague term in environmental communication is responsibility for the future. This is defined theoretically by Hans Jonas as the active care about the continuation of “real” human life, as the fact of an intergenerational link between humans gives reason for concern about the intrinsic value of nature.
In order to get our bearings at a time when we continuously overstep planetary boundaries this responsibility for the future needs to be specified, for example through the socio-ethical principal of sustainability: Sustainable is an action, way of life or economy that treats nature in such a way that anyone anywhere can repeat or share it at any point in time.
At the moment there is no lack of knowledge and understanding of what is morally required. There is however a lack of willingness to act accordingly. Here the Christian faith can step in with its future-oriented narratives, time-tested ways of sustainable living, rituals of confession and forgiveness, unconditional approval and the trust that no one has to bear the whole burden by themselves.

Markus Vogt
Worin besteht die Kompetenz der Theologie im Umweltdiskurs?

The churches and religious communities are confronted with high expectations regarding the promotion of a “great transformation” and a “cultural revolution” towards a sustainable society. Her specific competence will unfold only if they recognize the religious dimension of the ecological situation as a “sign of the times” and therefore as a challenge for a new idea of the position of man in nature. The environmental discourse is a “locus theologicus” on which today the Christian message of hope and the relation to God must prove.

Andreas Lob-Hüdepohl
„Nachhaltige Lebensstile“. Ethische Anmerkungen zu einem moralischen „Hochwerttopos“

German Bishops' Conference commission of social affairs presented to the public 10 theses on climate protection. Referring to the second papal encyclical Laudato si’, the theses requires a broad “cultural” and ”culture” change wherein practicing and promoting of “sustainable living” plays a central role – for individuals as well as for society as a whole. The article discusses the term “sustainable lifestyle” by its meaning and relevance from an ethical perspective. Lifestyles are on the one hand socio-cultural conveyed interpretive and action patterns, and on the other hand, they always stay accessible for a critical (self-)reflection. Transformation of lifestyle is not only an individual, but a social duty: the importance of consistent democratization (particularly at the international level) and a “boundary expanding solidarity” is underlined in this article. It is considered, that rich countries have to transform their present lifestyle for reasons of fairness. Their apparent (imperial) way of life is based on hiding the exploitation of human and natural resources. Furthermore, an “ecological and social transformative lifestyle” can be seen as a chance for a “sustainable quality of life”.


Julia Petersen/Kerstin Schlögl-Flierl
Plastikfasten – moraltheologische und sozialethische Anstöße

Plastic is either demonised or praised to the skies. This article focuses on the individual implementation of an area for sustainable development in the policy of small steps, but without forgetting the larger social ethical principles: Plastic fasting as the order of the day.


Michael Quisinsky
In(sub)kulturation und Ex(sub)kulturation. Grenzen und Ent-Grenzungen von Glaube und Pastoral in pluraler Gesellschaft

In diaspora Catholicism as well as in the post-majoritarian Catholicism the question about a new inculturation arises. In view of the differentiation of contemporary culture into diverse subcultures, a first step can be to understand ex-culturation as in-subculturation and in-culturation as ex-subculturation. Future steps of inculturation could build on it in the horizon of catholicity as dynamics of mutual de-limitation that realizes the sacramentality of the Church, i. e. its character as sign and instrument (see LG 1).