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Germany

Top German Bishop Slams Selfish Compatriots

Ending a five-day Catholic convention in Germany on Sunday, May 25, the country's top bishop charged that Germans were turning into a nation of people demanding things instead of giving.

Bishop Robert Zollitsch with Bishop Margot Käßmann of the Evangelical-Lutheran Church.

Zollitsch's speech was reminiscient of JFK's "Ask not what your country can do for you..."

Archbishop Robert Zollitsch told 25,000 worshippers at a final mass in the open air, "The first issue shouldn't be, what do I expect from society, what can others do for me? The first issue is, what can I do for others, for society, for the church?"

Since the convention began in the northern city of Osnabrueck on Wednesday, more than 60,000 people have taken their pick among 1,200 separate events including panel discussions, concerts and prayer. It was organized by Germany's national lay committee.

Zollitsch, who is chairman of the German Catholic Bishops' Conference, said, "In this country we are in danger of becoming a society of 'I want.'" He said Christianity liberated people from "selfish regard for themselves" in favor of social solidarity.

Bishop attacks unfair distribution of wealth

Attacking inequality, he said, "We cannot accept that the resources of the earth are denied to some and serve others to further increase their affluence and wealth."

During the convention, held every two years in Germany, German Catholic leaders reached out to Jews, saying they sympathized with Jewish complaints about a new Latin prayer.

Jewish groups were upset this year when the Vatican permitted hyper-conservative Catholic congregations to pray in Latin that Jews may "acknowledge Jesus Christ, the savior of all men." Most Catholics use newer prayers and do not pray in Latin.

Zollitsch, who is archbishop of Freiburg, led a joint Christian and Jewish religious service at the convention on Thursday.

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