Nobody wants bible babble – LINZA!

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He is anything but an ordinary clergyman: The dedicated Linz pastor and “animal pope” Franz indicator from the Linz-St. Peter celebrates on Saturday (July 2nd) his 25th anniversary as a priest. What distinguishes indicator: no yellowed, theoretical bible babble from above, but humanity and charity on an equal footing. We asked Franz indicator for the big LINZA summer interview.

“On June 28, 1997 I was ordained a priest in the New Cathedral in Linz. So this year I can celebrate my silver jubilee as a priest,” says the shirt-sleeved clergyman, who doesn’t fit the cliché of a pastor at all. The silver jubilee for priests will be celebrated on Saturday from 7 p.m. on the forecourt and in the parish church of Linz-St. Peter – that is the parish of that part of the city that had to give way to the construction of the Hermann-Göring-Werke at the end of the 1930s and had to move in the direction of Spallerhof.

The church as an open house for two- AND four-legged friends: Pastor indicator’s church at the Spallerhof.

Concert and “fiery finale”
The festive mass will take place on July 3 at 9.30 a.m. The evening before (2 July/7 p.m.), the benefit concert “Pan Romantic Night” will take place with the Linz scene host and pan flute virtuoso Günter Hager. The Linz restaurateur has already built several social facilities for orphans and the elderly in northern India. During his stays there, he also learned to play the pan flute. After the concert (admission free) the midsummer bonfire will be lit in front of the church on St. Peter’s Square.

Franz indicator in the LINZA talk:

Franz indicator, you are a pastor who was appointed relatively late. When and why did you decide to dedicate your life to God?
I was about 25. My tendency has always been to do service to people. And as a young person I thought to myself that I could make a difference within the church.

What were these 25 years as a pastor like for you – were you actually able to make a difference?
Yes I think so. A good example is the animal board and animal blessings thing that we’ve been doing here for a very long time. This has moved something within the church, animal blessings are now carried out in many parishes and in many places. This anthropocentric world view, that the human being is the focus and is the sole crown of creation – that was always a thorn in my side.

Were there also disillusionments in these 25 years?
Of course, becoming a priest is a bit like getting married (laughs).

And doubts too?
You always have that. As a priest you are not automatically above everything. It is always a struggle for faith, one keeps asking oneself questions, just like in worldly life.

What exactly is the attraction of the priest’s job – apart from the thought of helping and being there for the people?
You can work relatively freely in your parish and also move and help shape a lot here. And as long as you don’t do nonsense, nobody will talk you into it. (laughs)

Would you do everything the same way again today and become a pastor again?
Yes, although I believe that it is much more difficult today to choose the priesthood because it is completely unclear what the working environment will be like in ten years.

More and more people are leaving the church, why is that?
The basic problem is that there is hardly any ecclesiastical connection to the parishes, there is a great deal of alienation. In addition, the church today largely gives answers to questions that people do not even ask themselves. If then once a year the payment slip for something comes into the house that you can no longer do anything with, you just leave at some point.

There have always been attempts at reform in the Church.
I’ve been in the Linz-South Dean’s Office since 1995, when I started out as a religion teacher at the vocational school. Since then, new pastoral concepts or “paths to the future” have been issued again and again. After that it was said that now everything would be different and better. But nothing happened. The church is constantly revolving around itself and decisions are made from above. We are in a period of great upheaval, but the church is not creating adequate structural change and is also not finding the answers to the right questions that people are concerned about.

“No one gets full just from preaching and pious stories.”

Franz Pointer

For example?
Just take the current crisis and inflation, where people are running out of money and there is a shortage everywhere. The needy storm the panels, many of which now have to close because they can no longer cope with the onslaught. Where’s the church? Why isn’t there anything? Where is there a call for help and support? Here the church could score and thus become credible. But nobody gets enough just from preaching and pious stories.

How do you view the current global development: As a “professional optimist”, does that worry you?
To be honest: Yes, very much! This general enthusiasm for the war on all sides also shocks me. We’re sitting on a powder keg.

“Many would snap a selfie of the end of the world and post it on Facebook.”

Franz Pointer

Are people now moving closer together or is there increasing egoism and is everyone looking at themselves more?
What scares me: People ignore everything and continue doing “business as usual”. Many would take a selfie of the end of the world and post it on Facebook, that’s how it all seems to me sometimes. We live in a bubble, everyone thinks this is just a big online show.

At the end, of course, we need a positive, personal ending. Here we go!
At the end of the day, as Christians, we know that everything will turn out fine. Jesus says, “I am with you always, to the end of the world.” Jesus doesn’t make empty promises, but suffering is part of life. The current development shows us that we are not yet in paradise on earth. I don’t think life on earth is all we experience: a short youth, then growing old with lower back pain… there is more to this wonderful, magnificent creation. Everything will be fine, I’m sure!


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