Notebook

German Renewal

When Gotthard, abbot of Niederaltaich heard of his appointment as bishop of Hildesheim in 1022, he is said to have said, ‘Lieber in Bayern ein Abt als droben ein Bischof’ (‘Rather abbot in Bavaria than bishop up there’). Yet up he went, beginning a ministry that was singularly fruitful. Gotthard was canonised in 1131, the foundation year of Tintern Abbey. Today, on his liturgical feast, the diocese of Hildesheim inaugurated a Godehardjahr, not only a year of commemoration, but of prospective mission. At the opening Mass, Gotthard’s successor, Mgr Heiner Wilmer, summoned the entire diocese to ‘Benedictine renewal’. In a rousing sermon he said: ‘For us in the diocese of Hildesheim, this is about inner change and transformation in Christ.’ Much is being written and said at the moment, not least in Germany, about the problems of the German Church. How marvellous, then, to witness such a life-giving initiative, bearing the hallmarks of unity, hope, and Benedictine humilitas, focused on and oriented towards Christ to whom, St Benedict insists, ‘nothing is to be preferred’.