TO THE PILGRIM PEOPLE OF GOD IN GERMANY
Dear brothers and sisters,
The meditation of the readings of the book of the Acts of the Apostles that were proposed to us in the Easter season moved me to write this letter to you. There we find the first apostolic community imbued with that new life that the Spirit gave them, transforming every circumstance into a good opportunity for the announcement. They had lost everything and on the morning of the first day of the week, between desolation and bitterness, they heard from the mouth of a woman that the Lord was alive. Nothing and no one could stop the Paschal outbreak in their lives and they could not keep silent what their eyes had seen and their hands touched (see 1 Jn 1: 1).
In this climate and with the conviction that the Lord "can always, with his novelty, renew our life and our community"  I want to approach and share your concern about the future of the Church in Germany. We are aware that we do not live only a time of changes but a change of time that awakens new and old questions with which it is fair and necessary to confront each other. Situations and questions that I could converse with your pastors in the last Ad Limina visit and that surely continue to resonate within your communities. As on that occasion I would like to offer my support, be closer to you to walk by your side and encourage the search to respond with parrhesia to the present situation.
1. With gratitude I look at that capillary network of communities, parishes, chapels, schools, hospitals, social structures that have been woven throughout history and are a testimony of the living faith that has sustained, nourished and vivified them for several generations. A faith that passed through moments of suffering, confrontation and tribulation, but also of perseverance and vitality that is also shown today rich in fruit in so many testimonies of life and works of charity. The German Catholic communities, in their diversity and plurality, are recognized throughout the world for their sense of co-responsibility and generosity that has been able to reach out and accompany the implementation of evangelization processes in regions that are quite submerged and without possibilities. . Such generosity was not only manifested in recent history as material economic aid but also sharing, over the years, numerous charisms and people: priests, religious, lay people who have faithfully and tirelessly fulfilled their service and mission in situations often difficult . They have given to the Universal Church great saints and saints, theologians and theologians, as well as pastors and laity who helped that the encounter between the Gospel and cultures could reach new syntheses capable of awakening the best of both  and being offered to the new generations with the same ardor of the beginnings. This allowed a remarkable effort to identify pastoral responses to the challenges that were presented to them.
It is to point out the ecumenical way they carry out and of which we could see the fruits during the commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, a path that allows to encourage the instances of prayer, cultural exchange and exercise of charity capable of overcoming prejudices and wounds. of the past allowing us to celebrate and witness better the joy of the Gospel.
2. Today, however, I agree with you as it is painful to see the growing erosion and decay of the faith with all that this entails not only on a spiritual level but also socially and culturally. Situation that becomes visible and confirms, as Benedict XVI already pointed out, not only "in the East, where, as we know, the majority of the population is unbaptized and has no contact with the Church and, often, does not know not at all to Christ " but also in the so-called" region of Catholic tradition [where there is] a very strong fall of participation in the Sunday Mass, as of the sacramental life ". A deterioration, certainly multifaceted and not easy and quick solution, which calls for a serious and conscious approach that encourages us to become, on the threshold of present history, like that mendicant to hear the words of the apostle: "I have no silver or gold , but I give you what I have: in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, get up and walk "(Ac 3,6).