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Eugen Drewermann during his first U.S. lecture series in 1999

Eugen Drewermann (born 20 June 1940) is a "German church critic, theologian, peace activist and former "Roman Catholic priest. His work has been translated into more than a dozen languages.

Drewermann was born in "Bergkamen near "Dortmund. He is best known in Germany for his work toward a non-violent form of Christianity, which, he believes, requires an integration of "Depth psychology into "Exegesis and "Theology. Trained in philosophy, theology, psychoanalysis, and comparative religious studies, he criticized the Roman Catholic Church's literal and biologistic interpretations of miracles, the virgin birth, "Ascension, and "Resurrection as superstitious and medieval. He called on Rome to understand biblical stories symbolically in such a way that they can become present and healing to readers today. Drewermann's controversial opinions on Catholic dogma, especially the "Virgin birth of Jesus lead to a letter expressing "deep worry," in 1986 by then-Cardinal Ratzinger,[1] "Pope Benedict XVI, to Drewermann's "archbishop, "Johannes Joachim Degenhardt.

The struggle propelled Drewermann into the public limelight and culminated in 1991 after he published a radical critique of what he considers to be the Vatican's psychologically cruel and mentally enslaving clergy ideal (Kleriker: Psychogramm eines Ideals [Clergy: Psychogram of an ideal]). Archbishop Degenhardt of Paderborn and the Catholic Bishops Conference of Germany engaged in a long drawn-out and heated debate with Drewermann which was closely followed by media and public. As a consequence, on 7 October 1991, the "Archbishop disallowed him to teach at the Catholic Seminary of Paderborn and, shortly afterwards, revoked his license to preach 1992.

Drewermann has uttered strong and controversial political opinions. He was against the "Gulf War, the "Iraq War, German participation in the NATO war against Afghanistan, and Israeli Air Raids during the 2006 Lebanon War. In the name of the German Peace Movement, he asked to abolish not only Walter Mixa's office as Military Bishop of Germany but the German military, the "Bundeswehr, as such.[2] Drewermann has signed public calls to support the ""Linkspartei"[3] and delivers speeches on conferences and protest demonstrations of the left.[4]

Drewermann left the "Catholic Church on his 65th birthday on 20 June 2005, a decision he broadly announced on "Sandra Maischbergers Talkshow in German television.[5]


Early life[edit]

Son of a "Lutheran father and a "Catholic mother, Drewermann, after finishing grammar school ("Abitur) in Germany, studied "philosophy in "Münster, "theology in "Paderborn and "psychoanalysis in "Göttingen.

Professional life[edit]

Ordained as a Catholic priest in 1966, he worked as a diocesan priest, student chaplain, and eventually began work in 1974 as assistant priest in the parish of St. George in Paderborn. At the same time, he worked as a "psychotherapist, and from 1979 also held lectures in comparative religious studies and "dogmatics at the Catholic Theological Faculty in Paderborn. He continues to hold lectures in Studium generale["clarification needed] at Paderborn and talks at other universities. [6]

Influenced by "Sigmund Freud, "Carl Jung, and more recent psychoanalysts, Drewermann radically reinterprets biblical texts according to psychoanalytic, poetic, and existential criteria. His method of interpretation has been clearly outlined in the 1984-1985 two-volume work Tiefenpsychologie und Exegese. His interpretations are as immediate as poetry and aim to rediscover particularly the therapeutic message of Jesus and of the Hebrew prophets, both for the individual and for society at large.

A central topic of Drewermann is the specific way humans experience "Angst (fear) due to our self-reflective capacity. He maintains that religion has as its central task to help calm our human anxiety and to stop its devastating effects on all levels of human life, in its personal, social, and global manifestations. Among his more than 80 books are dozens of titles presenting non-moralistic reinterpretations of nearly all biblical texts, including a monumental three-volume scholarly treatise on Genesis 2-11 (Strukturen des Bösen, 1977-8) and a two-volume commentary on the Gospel of Mark; a number of titles on urgent social issues such as war (Der Krieg und das Christentum, 1981), the environment (Der tödliche Fortschritt, 1982), and burning moral issues such as abortion, the will to live, suicide (Psychoanalyse und Moraltheologie, 1982-4, 3 vols); and, most recently, half a dozen volumes on the question of God in light of the findings of modern anthropology (1998), biology (1999), cosmology (2002), neurology (2006–2007); a depth psychological analysis of more than twenty of the most well-known "fairy tales by the "Brothers Grimm and one by "Hans Christian Andersen.

Since 1992, Drewermann has been working as a freelance author and speaker. He has frequent appearances in "German TV "talk shows and is invited to lecture all over Germany, Europe, and the world. While his popularity as a church critic was at its maximum when "Der Spiegel ran a cover story on him in its 1993 Christmas issue, he continues to be a highly sought-after commentator on spiritual, religious and social issues.

He currently has his own monthly "call-in radio show titled Redefreiheit (Freedom of Speech) in Bremen [7], which was preceded by a prior regular call-in radio show in Berlin.

Drewermann has appeared twice with the "Dalai Lama in Zurich, and has written a book with him on the dialogue among religions. After the "11 September 2001 attacks he described the attacks as the result of complex dynamics in which both sides in the terror war had contributed to the conflict. In agreement with the Dalai Lama, Drewermann called on the West to turn the attacks into an opportunity for peace not revenge.


Some Catholic scholars criticised Drewermann for focussing in his work on individual psychology without taking into consideration Christian communities and Christian tradition,[6] arguing that Drewermann's approach had the effect of reducing the historical relevance of the "Gospel and "Revelation to a mere collection of texts used to cure individual anxiety. A similar approach to Drewemann's work came from psychological scholars Albert Görres and Helmuth Benesch.[7]

Catholic scholar Klaus Berger[8] accused Drewermann of using outdated ideas and research methods and of subscribing to ancient misunderstandings of the "Old Testament. A pseudo "Marcionism and using of biblical and other religious texts out of context is pointed out by Protestant scholar Manfred Oeming.

The political views of Drewermann have been sharply criticized by theologians Uwe Birnstein and Klaus-Peter Lehmann as being based on a traditional German antipolitical and romantic view and reducing all social aspects to individual fear and personal understanding and goodwill.[9] Peter Neuhaus, in his comparison of the Political Theology of Johannes Baptist Metz and the theology of Drewermann, counters that Drewermann's theology is imminently social in its critique and does not share in antipolitical or romantic views of politics.[10]

"Henryk M. Broder referred to Drewermann and other German intellectuals as reason for a book,[11] in which he denounces Drewermann and others as underplaying the role of Islamic terrorism and putting the blame solely on the west, especially Israel and the US.[12]

Josef Isensee, a Catholic German lawyer and specialist for Constitutional law, sees in Drewermann the prototype of a self-proclaimed church critic using strong opinions to gain profile and public awareness and profiting on the very organizational body he was member for the most time of his life.[13]


Selected works[edit]

In English

In German


  1. ^ A Violent God-Image: An Introduction to the Work of Eugen Drewermann, p. 17.Beier, M. (2006).
  2. ^ [1] Speech held at Bremen Peace March Eastern 2008
  3. ^ [2] Call to elect Linkspartei 2005
  4. ^ Linker Protest [3] Spiel mir das Lied vom Sozialismus Die Linke hat in Bad Doberan zur Kapitalismuskritik geladen. Eugen Drewermann predigt, Oskar Lafontaine schaukelt sich auf, und die Menge singt dazu (Play it again, the song of capitalism. The lefts invites to criticize capitalism in Bad Doberan. Drewermann preaches, Lafontaine gets in the mood and the crowd sings along). In "Focus (German magazine) - by Iris Mayer, Focus-online, 04.06.07
  5. ^ Menschen bei Maischberger: 2005 - Schluss mit lustig? ARD-Sendung vom 13. Dezember 2005
  6. ^ "Gerhard Lohfink, "Rudolf Pesch Tiefenpsychologie und keine Exegese. Eine Auseinandersetzung mit Eugen Drewermann. Katholisches Bibelwerk; Auflage: 2., Aufl. (1988) "ISBN "3-460-04291-5
  7. ^ Benesch, Helmuth, Enzyklopädisches Wörterbuch klinische Psychologie und Psychotherapie. (Stichwort:) Angsttheorien, Weinheim 1995, Beltz, S. 89
  8. ^ [4] Spiel's noch einmal (Play it again), Klaus Berger in der "FAZ, 21. November 2003
  9. ^ Uwe Birnstein / Klaus-Peter Lehmann: Phänomen Drewermann. Politik und Religion einer Kultfigur, Eichborn Frankfurt am Main 1998 "ISBN "3-8218-0457-2
  10. ^ Peter Neuhaus: Erinnerung als Brückenkategorie: Anstöße zur Vermittlung zwischen der Politischen Theologie von Johann Baptist Metz und der Tiefenpsychologischen Theologie Eugen Drewermann. LIT Verlag, Münster 2001.
  11. ^ Henryk M. Broder: Kein Krieg, nirgends: Die Deutschen und der Terror. Berlin Verlag 2002.
  12. ^ [5] Broder statements about Drewermann in the German Spiegel 26 March 2002, Broders Book about "11 September, The selection of the unpalatable (Die Auslese von Ungenießbarem, In German), by Michael Krechting
  13. ^ Josef Isensee, Die Zukunftsfähigkeit des deutschen Staatskirchenrechts - Gegenwärtige Legitimationsprobleme (The future of the German state church law and ongoing problems of legitimization)["permanent dead link] in Isensee/Rees/ Rüfner Hrsg., Dem Staat, was des Staates - der Kirche, was der Kirche ist (Unto the State the things which are the State's, and unto the Church the things that are the Church's), Berlin 1999
  14. ^ http://www.suedkurier.de/region/schwarzwald-baar-heuberg/koenigsfeld/Koenigsfeld-feiert-bdquo-Schweitzer-Erben-ldquo-;art372523,4916774.
  15. ^ http://www.hagalil.com/01/de/index.php?itemid=683&catid=1.
  16. ^ http://www.boersenblatt.net/75744/

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]


Drewermann talks, videos & audio[edit]

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