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Military government weekly information bulletin
Number 124 (December 1947)

Brown, Sterling W., Dr.
Religious cooperation,   pp. 13-15 PDF (1.9 MB)


Page 13


WILJ[V
COOPERATION between the two
principal religious groups of Ger-
many is one of the most outstanding
features in the religious life of the
people of the US Zone.
Evangelicals and Roman Catholics
constitute almost 96 percent -of the
total German population. Most of the
examples of intercreedal cooperation
occur between these two groups. In
terms of activity, cooperation between
Protestants and Catholics in Germany
exists on three levels which may be
termed as practical, political, and
theological.
Welfare projects constitute the most
common form of practical good will.
The two principal welfare agencies,
"Caritas Verband" of the Catholic
Church and "Hilfswerk" of the Evan-
gelical Church, work closely together.
Under a program of "need comes be-
fore creed," buildings, relief materials,
and personnel are often shared and
interchanged freely.
In such projects as the one which
offers assistance to the aged and to
mothers with children at railroad
stations in the larger cities, represen-
tatives of the two faiths work side by
side in the relief of human suffering.
Another important form of coopera-
tion is the sharing of church buildings
with congregations which have lost
their places of worship because of
war damage. MG officials in Bavaria
report that in at least 20 Kreise
church buildings are being shared.
Since Bavaria is predominantly Catho-
lic, most of these examples are Catho-
lics- sharing their buildings with Prot-
estants.
In  several instances,  particular
buildings are turned over to the Prot-
estants for their exclusive use, but- in
most situations both groups make use
of the same buildings. In one Kreis
there are seven communities in which
Catholic Church buildings are being
By Dr. Sterling W. Brown
shared with Protestants. Protestant
Churches in the Protestant area of
Bavaria, and in many other parts of
the US Zone, are also readily shared
with the Catholics..
I N SCORES of Hessian towns, be-
cause of the impact of a refugee
population which is 75 percent Catho-,
lic in an area that was 65 percent Prot-
estant, it is not uncommon to see
Protestant Churches used for Catholic
services.
Since the beginning of the occu-
pation the Catholic bishop of Mainz
and the Protestant Church govern-
ment of Hesse have been holding
Tegularly-scheduled meetings in an at-
mosphere of informality for discussion
of mutual responsibility in areas of
common concern.
In the field of youth activities is
-to be found a third form of coopera-
tion between Catholics and Prot-
estants on the practical level. Youth
work has a prominent place in both
German- and American efforts to re-
orient the German people, and church
youth groups play a leading role in
this field. Protestants and Catholics
serve amiably on scores of Kreis youth
committees, while in many instances
the youth of both churches share in
camping, social parties, discussion
groups, and in the celebration of
"Youth Week."
In one Kreis a "Youth~ Week" was
held recently in which Catholic priests
and sisters participated in the Prot-
estant program and Protestant minis-
ters and deaconesses shared in the
Catholic observance.
The   regularly-scheduled  confer-
ences by Military Government, involv-
ing church leaders of all groups, has
furthered intergroup democracy among
the German churches.
C ONCERNING THE political level
of cooperation, some Evangelical
leaders have voiced fears that the Chris-
tian Democratic Union might become
Catholic-dominated, as was the former
Catholic Center Party. Nevertheless,
this political organization continues
to act as a binding force for the two
faiths. While Free Churches decry
the participation of any religious
body in political activity, the CDU-
CSU is at the present time numerically
the strongest political party in the
American Zone.
In the minds of Protestant and
Evangelical churchmen, -even though
there are different shades of economic,
political and theological opinion, the
CDU is for many the symbol of the
Christian basis of life as opposeAd to
the materialistic dogma of other
parties.
The most significant form of co-
operation on the theological level
is that of the "Una Sancta" mov-
ement between Roman Catholics
and Evangelicals. Striving for better
understanding  between  the  two
churches, the movement aims at
WEEKLY INFORMATION BULLETIN
Dr. Sterling W. Brown is head
of Interfaith Relations and Free
Church Affairs of the Education
and Religious Affairs Branch,
Internal Affairs and Communica-
tions Division, OMGUS. He came
to Germany in April 1947 on
leave from his position as as-
sistant to the president of the
National Conference of Chris-
tians and Jews, New York city.
Previously he was professor of
psychology and sociology of
religion at Drake University and
at the University of Oklahoma.
He is a native of Texas.
22 DECEMBER 1947
31
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