Julia Schnizlein worked as a journalist for 14 years. "I studied Protestant theology in Heidelberg and Amsterdam, but after my studies I still felt too young to be a pastor." Therefore, she completed various internships in the German Bundestag, in the Federal President's Office under Federal President Johannes Rau in the Department for Churches, Culture and Media and in the ZDF in the "History" department under Guido Knopp. She noticed how much she enjoyed working with the media. "So I added a two-year postgraduate course entitled 'Journalism and Media Competence' in Vienna and ended up working for the Austria Press Agency" APA "and the daily newspaper" Die Presse ", among others.
Then in 2017 the change: Schnizlein left her vicariate in the Luther Church in Vienna. Since September 2020 she has been permanently engaged as a pastor in the Lutheran City Church in the first district and lives with her husband and two daughters in the federal capital.
WOMAN: From journalist to pastor - an unusual industry change. How did your environment react to your professional reorientation?
Schnizlein: "Much better than expected. Before that, I worked in a very secular environment for many years. There are many meaning, depth and authenticity associated with the pastor's profession. And many are looking for such values in their lives."
The church is often the focus of criticism. Many associate belief and religion with unworldly views of life and outdated opinions. What do you find out of date yourself?
"I believe that the need for religion and belief is unbroken, only people satisfy it less and less in churches. We often do not manage to pick up people in the reality of their lives. We speak a language that many no longer understand, we sing Songs that hardly anyone knows seem distant and aloof. I think it's important, especially in church services, to focus more on people and what they need instead of answering questions that nobody is asking."
What is perhaps very progressive about the Church?
"Jesus Christ. He was a real revolutionary - in his dealings with women, with children, with marginalized groups. Unfortunately, his church sometimes lags a little behind this progressiveness."
Since when has religion been compatible with social media?
"Religion and faith have always lived from being passed on: orally, in writing, on leaflets, in songs … The communication of the gospel, that is, the message of Christ, is one of the core tasks of the church and I think, of course, one should do that too use all available media. The message is sensational, so it is also suitable for social media. We just have to 'translate' it properly into digital."
Church and feminism: is it okay?
"Even good. Because the Bible is full of strong women and thought leaders. Unfortunately, many of them were stigmatized or suppressed by the patriarchal church, such as Mary Magdalene, the first apostle. Jesus Christ had a very progressive image of women at that time - that should be our role model."
In what way?
"For him, gender, status, age, origin, etc. did not play a role. That was revolutionary for the understanding of roles at the time. Jesus made a woman, Mary Magdalene, the first apostle. However, like other female role models, she became public men Perception suppressed and even - as an alleged sinner - sexually stigmatized."
How political are you?
"Christians are always also political because our goal should be to make the world a better place. A place where people live peacefully on an equal footing and exploit neither creation nor creatures. The theologian Dorothee Sölle once said: ' Every theological sentence must also be a political one. ' I see it that way too. Faith must have concrete consequences."
When did you doubt your belief?
"So often that I can hardly remember. Faith is comparable to love. It changes, it is sometimes more, sometimes less noticeable, sometimes it inspires and sometimes you quarrel with it."
What do many underestimate when it comes to religion?
"How much blessing, serenity and consolation it means for oneself. Faith doesn't change things, but the way we look at things."
To which question of meaning have you not yet found an answer yourself?
"Why there is suffering."
Here are a few more big questions from us for you: Is it allowed to live in abundance while others struggle with poverty?
"Most Western Europeans do that. And I think you can and should enjoy life. After all, it's a great gift! But it is also important not to close your eyes to suffering, despair, poverty and hunger. We should. We should." be aware that our abundance cannot be taken for granted, that others often pay the price for it, and that we should help to make the world a better place for everyone. This is how I understand God's mission to us."
Do you always have to be a good person?
"One should always start with oneself. Even with being good. There is a guideline for the question of what is good and right. It is based on the so-called golden rule:" If you don't want someone to do it to you, add it. Nor to anyone else. "And Immanuel Kant has expanded this principle in his categorical imperative to include the formula:" Only act according to the maxim that you can want it to become a general law. "In everything we do or do let us ask ourselves the question: 'Would it be good if everyone behaved like me, always and everywhere?' If we can answer the question with yes, this maxim has passed the test."
What is really important in life?
"I stick to Albert Schweitzer: 'The only important thing in life are the traces of love that we leave behind when we leave without being asked and say goodbye.'"