Now it's the current Archbishop of Cologne, Cardinal Meisner, who is in the news. He has criticised the German Government's family and immigration policies in a courageous way.
Read on, because you don't often hear figures in positions of authority speaking out like this. It began when a journalist challenged the Cardinal on his opposition to abortion. He replied:
We are a dying people, but have a perfect legislation for abortion. Is that not the suicide of a society? People want most of all to shut women out of families so that production continues. But with money alone you can't get children.
He was then asked if he was against formal child care:
No, but it would be better for society to create a climate in which women bring more children into the world. That is to say: to bring to awareness the high worth of the family with a mother and father for the children.
He went on to talk about his experiences in communist East Germany:
I have already been part of the whole one-sided tragedy in East Germany. The women there, who stayed home for the family, were told they were demented. Because labour forces were needed childcare was brought in. A socialist educator said of this: "The creche (the "child crib") is in the Bible a temporary thing and we have made of it a permanent institution."
The interviewer then objected "But women want to self-actualise in a career." The Cardinal replied:
Not all. Where are women really publicly encouraged to stay at home and to bring three or four children into the world? One should intervene here and not - as Mrs Merkel does currently - only present immigration as the solution to our demographic problem. We cannot take the young people away from Portugal and Spain and thus rob their countries of their future just out of selfishness. We should train these unemployed people and offer them perspectives, but then allow them to return home where they are needed.
What's impressive here is that the Cardinal has recognised a need for the German people to survive into the future by being encouraged to have children of their own rather than relying on taking the youth of other nations. He wants the family as an institution to be accorded value and not just the market.
It turns out that the Cardinal has also (unsuccessfully) taken a stand on cathedral design. Back in 2007 the artist Gerhard Richter completed a new stained glass window for the historic Cologne Cathedral. Richter based his design on his trademark "random pixel" paintings (randomly computer-arranged coloured pixels).
I haven't seen the window personally, but I would have thought that art in a cathedral should attempt to be inspired rather than randomly generated:
|Gerhard Richter's stained glass window in the Cologne Cathedral|
Maybe it looks better when you're there, but from the photo I'd have to say that Cardinal Meisner was correct in thinking that this doesn't work as religious art (the colours fit, but it comes across as chaotic).