The International Old Catholic Theologians’ Conference discusses forward-looking ways of passing on the faith

Around 40 Old Catholic theologians from the Netherlands, Switzerland, Austria and Germany gathered at the Herz-Jesu Monastery in Neustadt an der Weinstraße, Germany, from 29 August to 2 September 2016 for the 44th International Old Catholic Theologians’ Conference. Through workshops and presentations by speakers from within and outside the Old Catholic Church, they examined ways to pass on faith to others.

The first set of workshops, led by Robert Frede, Lothar Haag and Thomas Walter, offered perspectives on extraparochial pastoral care. The speakers presented the categorical pastoral care scheme in the Netherlands, the diocesan and city church Namen-Jesu-Kirche in Bonn, and the Friedenskirche spiritual centre in Deggendorf. To supplement the discussions, Mattijs Ploeger gave a talk on the challenges that passing on the faith presents to Old Catholic ecclesiology.

The second unit dealt with church buildings as places and subjects of faith transmission. Florian Bosch introduced the new Apostle Junia church in Augsburg; Oliver Kaiser presented the Church of St. Maria Angelica in Hannover (consecrated in 2011), and Remco Robinson spoke about the Old Catholic church in Middelburg, which was previously an Evangelical Lutheran church. Liturgy researcher Albert Gerhards from Bonn provided additional insights in his lecture.

Also on the agenda was a discussion of new approaches to catechesis. Anja Goller outlined various models of instruction for children and families, Martina Liebler and Harald Münch presented a possible approach for young people, and Adrian Suter shared insights into religious instruction for adults. Monika Jakobs, a teacherreligious education teacher from Lucerne, also gave a presentation on the subject.

In his talk at the end of the conference, the Serbian Orthodox bishop Andrej Æilerdžiæ urged the participants to carefully consider the great significance of tradition and the important task of liturgical mystagogy as it is practised in the Orthodox Church – challenging a one-sided theological-rational approach to questions of faith.

A brief statement (available here as a pdf) summarises the outcomes of the conference. The presentations will be printed in the Spring 2017 edition of the Internationale Kirchliche Zeitschrift (IKZ).

The International Old Catholic Theologians’ Conference is organised by the three Old Catholic departments in Bonn, Bern and Utrecht, plus two coordinators. The next conference takes place at the Zinzendorfhaus conference centre in Neudietendorf, near Erfurt, from Sunday 3 to Thursday 7 September 2017.

Contact: Prof. Dr. Angela Berlis, email:; please also contact her to order the issue of the IKZ with the conference presentations.

Fotos: Peter Feenstra

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