Because the St. St. Hedwig's Cathedral is being renovated, it will soon be closed for a longer period of time. Berlin's Archbishop Koch celebrates the last pontifical mass there on Amption Day for the time being – with relief and regret, as he says in an interview.
our siteHow will the last pontifical mass in the St. Looking at St. Hedwig's Cathedral? Will that be special today?
Heiner Koch (Archbishop of Berlin): First of all, it is special because it is the Solemnity of the Amption of Mary into Heaven – for us a very important feast that indicates that we have a future ahead of us, that God is waiting for us, that we have a home to which we are on our way. This is a great message – especially in a city that is often out of touch with this dimension.
At the end of the service, I will take up an old custom and bless roses as a sign of the Mother of God, as a sign of the fragrance from her grave, and give people a sign of hope and confidence to take with them on their way.
Of course, this is also a special service, because it is the last pontifical mass, not the last mass, in this cathedral. For me this is also a bit of melancholy. But it is also time to start with the necessary renovation work that is now pending – dome and floor texture. The cathedral is in urgent need.
Interviewer: How do you go on with the "packing of suitcases" and the move?
Koch: We will go to St. It is in Wedding, it is not so far away, but it is very significant that we are going to this part of the city. I will also be worshipping in many other places during this time. Being a bit of a traveling bishop in the diocese, so also in Brandenburg and Western Pomerania. It's a lot of small details, there's a bit of adventure involved.
our site: What does the move mean for yourself? Longer distances, new surroundings?
Cook: Of course! The people in Potsdam are also very happy that I will also hold pontifical offices there on high feasts sometimes. We are a very large diocese in terms of area and it is important that people outside Berlin know that he is also our bishop.
Interviewer: What will happen in St. Joseph still be different?
Koch: Certainly, the many people who attend our services, tourists, passers-by, even from the political sphere, will not want us to move to St. Joseph follow. So the passerby Christians who go to a church because they are in Berlin for a short time or are just happy to find a local church on their way, they will be missing. But let's wait and see, maybe there is a very unique imprint there from the working class and from the district of Wedding, which is characterized by interfaith ies.
Interviewer: It's not like everyone is happy about the rebuild. In the afternoon, the "Friends of St. Joseph. Hedwig's cathedral" protests. They fear a "radical conversion and the destruction of a historical monument," want to use all legal means to prevent a conversion .What do you say to the concerns?
Koch: I take her very seriously. I know this is a serious point for many because their heart is struck because they feel a piece of GDR church history is affected here. But you will see how much is preserved in this church and I really try to involve these people – with what is still to be shaped. I know that some will not go along the way. It is sad, but a decision was made in a good communicative process.
Interviewer: And with what feeling do you go to the last pontifical office today?? Does it matter to an archbishop, a professional, if he changes his home church??
Cook: No, somehow it hurts me. It's a church that is located in such a central location and has so many pastoral opportunities. I would prefer to continue to celebrate services tomorrow – in a renovated church. Only this church – regardless of its reconstruction – is in urgent need of renewal. It is dilapidated in some things, it is dirty, it needs to be secured. We also need to address new challenges, for example, how to get people in who don't necessarily fall in with churches. The question of light, heating, air in this church, the loudspeaker system, technical possibilities. There are so many things, nothing has been done to the church for 40 years. I'm relieved that it's starting, but also regret that I have to leave the church.
The interview was conducted by Hilde Regeniter.