Schönstatt - Begegnungen

Called to Model the Modern Times

"Forum Schoenstatt Topical" about the Results and Challenges of the Initiative of the Ecclesial Movements for the Protection of Human Embryos

Fr. Tilmann Beller, director of the German Schoenstatt Movement, welcomed the participants and thanked for the commitment of all those who had worked for the Initiative for the Protection of Humal Embryos.
Zu Beginn begrüßte Pater Beller, Bewegungsleiter der deutschen Schönstattbewegung, die Teilnehmer und dankte für den Einsatz aller, die sich in der Embryonenschutz-Initiative eingesetzt hatten.
Peter Fischer, together with his wife, Ruth, Schoenstatt representative in the Initiative, encouraged all to become aware of Schoenstatt's socio-political responsibility, and to see the doors that are wide open for further commitment.
Peter Fischer, zusammen mit seiner Frau Ruth Schönstatt-Vertreter im Initiativkreis Embryonenschutz der geistlichen Bewegungen, bat die Zuhörer, gesellschaftspolitische Verantwortung wahrzunehmen und die "weit offen stehenden Türen" für weiteres Engagement im Blick zu behalten.
Ruth Fischer mentioned the strong support that they recieved from the international, specially the Latin American Schoenstatt Movement.
Ruth Fischer dankte besonders für die starke Unterstützung seitens der weltweiten, vor allem der lateinamerikanischen Schönstattfamilie.
The Father Kentenich House, usually closed during February, had been opened specially for this event.
Eigens zu diesem Anlass war das sonst um diese Jahreszeit geschlossene Pater-Kentenich-Haus geöffnet worden.
About 80 persons from the Schoenstatt Movement, as well as some couples from nearby towns who had learned about the presentation from the local media, attended.
Etwa 80 Mitglieder der Schönstattbewegung und einige Ehepaare aus der Umgebung, die über die Medien von diesem Ereignis erfahren hatten, nahmen teil.
Sr.Kornelia Fischer, PressOffice Schoenstatt, gave a compendious of the press and media work done and the results.
Sr. Kornelia Fischer, PressOffice Schönstatt, gab eine Zusammenfassung der Öffentlichkeitsarbeit und der Ergebnisse.
In discussion: Susanne Leibrecht, Fr. Beller, Peter Fischer
Im Gespräch: Susanne Leibrecht, Pater Beller, Peter Fischer
Schoenstatt Mothers from Bamberg asked for the texts of the press releases to share in their diocese.
Schönstattmütter aus Bamberg nahmen die letzte Pressemappe mit, um in ihrer Diözese zu informieren.
Fotos: Cousett Ruelas © 2002

SCHÖNSTATT, mkf. Right away in the week before the German Parliament's decision about the import of embryonic stem cells, the Ecclesial Movements' Initiative for the Protection of Human Embryos was in Berlin, the capital of Germany, to influence the decision-making with the handing over 75,000 signatures. The two representatives of the Schoenstatt Movement, Ruth and Peter Fischer, who spoke with top responsible politicians, on February 18 shared about the results and challenges that the experiences of Berlin mean to the Schoenstatt Movement and beyond.

It was first of all about passing on first-hand information in Schoenstatt, at the center of the International Schoenstatt Movement. Another intention of this presentation, taking place on the invitation of Fr. Beller, director of the German Schoenstatt Movement, was however also to discuss the consequences and possible future steps on view of the commitment for the value and dignity of human life as well as in view of a new style of political involvement of Christian lay persons. After the Covenant celebration in the Adoration Church, approximately 80 – 100 persons came to the Father Kentenich House, among them also inhabitants for Vallendar, Montabaur, and Koblenz, who had learned about this presentation through the local media.

Gratitude Expressed for the Solidarity of the International Schoenstatt

To the sound of Latin American Schoenstatt Songs - Madre Peregrina, María y el Mar, Padre de Misericordia , Algun día moveremos las montañas – the presentation began with a photo show "Berlin 2002". Short texts and photos gave first impressions of the handing over of the 75,000 signatures, and of the harmonious co-operation of the Ecclesial Movements in this socio-political initiative.

"You just heard Latin American music, and that was with a reason," Ruth Fischer explained at the beginning. "With this intiative, that we carried through as representatives of the Schoenstatt Movement, together with the Focolar Movement and the Community 'Bread of Life', we experienced not only the commitment of many people here in Germany, but also a profound solidarity of the international Movement." The protection of human embryos, she continued, proves to be an international topic that by far is neither discussed finally with the parliamentary decision of January 30, nor may be considered "dealt with". Also the plenary assembly of the German bishops' conference in Stuttgart that began on the same day dealt with the protection of human embryos.

"If we can do something in practice, please let us know!"

"What can we do from here, besides praying for this intention? Should we collect signatures?", asked Sr. Reginita, from Atibaia, Brazil. "When the big pilgrimages come here, it would be easy to do so. In any case we will include this intention into our prayers and will also encourage the pilgrims to do so." Support and solidarity also from the United States, Belgium, Canada, Ecuador, and Argentina – Ruth Fischer specially mentioned the Bioethical Conference in Argentina, the translations of articles that helped spread the message via internet and international news agencies, the inspiring motivation through Father Guillermo Carmona, Movement Director in Argentina,– encouraged them to go on specially in times of lacking success and disappointment. A special thank was expressed for the unconditioned support through Father Marmann, chairperson of the General Presidium, and Father Beller.

"We can't change anything" – "We won't succeed anyway" – "We first need to study more…": arguments like that, Ruth Fischer said, were only excuses for not doing anything and should not be accepted. "In the morning in June 2001, when I read in the newspaper that the president of our federal state had voted for the import of embryonic stem cells from Israel, using a loophole in the law for the protection of embryos, I knew: I cannot keep silent any longer! For me, a simple person, it is passion to serve life from the bottom of my heart and to protect it responsibly. The protection of human embryos is about the smallest human beings living in our midst to whom a life in dignity is not granted. And so we simply began…"

To Participate in the Public Communication and Set Guideposts

Peter Fischer then informed about the beginning of the Initiative mid June 2001, and the basic intention – not to quickly collect thousands of signatures but to contribute to the shaping of public opinion and personal judgment. "The dignity of the human being begins to be inviolable in the very moment when the mystery of life begins, with the merging of sperm and ovum. For this we stand, for this we went to Berlin", the father of four children declared. "The public opinion in Germany changed tremendously since June, and we are proud of having been able to do our share in this process." An Internet opinion poll launched by the German Government on January 30 resulted in 70% of those who participated to vote in favor of the total prohibition of the import of stem cells from human embryos.

While Ruth and Peter Fischer took turns reporting about the different stages of the handing over, illustrating their information with photos, they highlighted the possibility and necessity to participate in the public communication, the process of opinion building and decision making, and to set guideposts – as Schoenstatt Movement and as individual Schoenstatt members.

The politicians had unanimously stated – the press releases are a document of this - the new style of church commitment in socio-political questions: a church that advertises for its position, that neither condemns nor accuses but – out of a clear attitude and with an unambiguous message – searches dialogue.

Not only Talk, but Act – not Only Act, but Share

The socio-political commitment and involvement of Schoenstatt in Germany is new and, to this degree, a first-time experience. Yet, Peter Fischer invited the audience to think ahead, this should not have been a lonely highlight!" At this moment, a vast number of politicians and journalists registered "Schoenstatt" as "those who have a clear stand on the issues of human life, and who dare to act out". This is a credit given to Schoenstatt that we should not put at risk!" Schoenstatt got a new image in the German public opinion through this initiative.

In the discussions after the official end of the program, this was highlighted again: It is not about schooling and discussing, not about talking about the crucial issues of our times, but about acting – and then to also share about this in the public in order to give orientation.

Obliged to the Mission of Father Kentenich

Father Kentenich's thinking and acting, the two said at the end of their statement, would oblige them and had modeled their own thinking and acting. In the thirties, the entire high society of the church had been on retreat or in conferences given by Father Kentenich. Those, of whom he had warned much earlier and intensely than others, had understood the impact of the movement that grew around Father Kentenich and declared Schoenstatt as "state enemy Number 1".

In the footsteps of Father Kentenich, Ruth Fischer said, "we are also obliged to the future of our children and to them as persons". Like Father Kentenich, we need to have "the hand at the pulse of time" in order to become sensitive and active in responding to the salient questions of our times and "make the voice of Schoenstatt resound at the right time and in the right place."

"Since ten years a change of perspective is lingering with me," Father Beller commented in this thanks for all those who had participated in this Initiative, "We always asked: What else can we do? Now I ask: Who can do oit? In the socio-political fields this questions had found an answer in this couple, and in PressOffice Schoenstatt. Around them, a wider circle is coming into existence, a group if committed people who want to move and change something. The commitment for the small human beings, the embryos, has to go on. We'll continue to walk this way, we go on!"

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