Eugen Drewermann

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Eugen Drewermann circa 1999

Eugen Drewermann (born June 20, 1940) is a German theologian, psychotherapist, author, peace activist and former Roman Catholic priest.


  • After midlife, one falls back on C G Jung and determines that the first years of life were in themselves symbolic.
    To learn a profession (calling) doesn't mean that you are called. To obtain money doesn't mean that you are rich. To marry doesn't mean that you have learned to love. To build a house doesn't mean that you are at home.
    All the things you did until you turned forty confront you again after midlife as a task, but this time inwardly.
    • Wort des Heils, Wort der Heilung. II p 148 (1989)
  • In all cultures, it is the task of a religion to close the field of contingency …and to set up havens of the absolute where it is possible to be led from acting to listening, from having to being, from planning to hoping, from judging to forgiving — from the finite into the infinite. A society in which such open spaces of eternity do not exist or are only insufficiently developed dies of itself due to lack of air to breathe.
    • Quoted in Matthias Beier, A Violent God-Image. An Introduction to the Work of Eugen Drewermann, p. 276 (2004)
  • You see, my Lord Archbishop, what is "dubious" about my theology is not that it contradicts particular doctrinal teachings, things are much worse or better: what I want, is no more and no less than a fundamental change in the whole way that theology is done today; but I want this out of faith, not out of faithlessness.
    • Letter to Archbishop J J Degenhardt, printed on rear cover of Eugen Drewermann, Worum es eigentlich geht. Protokoll einer Verurteilung (1992)
  • People are given a false alternative: the choice between an unenlightened belief and an enlightened unbelief. Most intellectuals seem to pay homage to the second variant.
  • If you want to change people by talking about God, then there is only one way: instead of teaching God, you must live God. Because: “teaching” God is unthinkable in any other way than the way you would teach love or poetry. You teach love only through love, poetry only through writing poetry, faith in God only through a contagious way of trusting.
    • Jesus von Nazareth (1996)
  • We see in the 20th Century an unfortunate trench warfare, in which psychoanalysis, in a struggle against the internalized compulsion and superstition of a particular doctrine, has expressed itself atheistically. By contrast, theology is not merely under suspicion of talking soullessly about God. Both theology and psychology, in striving for human health, need one another like the right and the left hand.
    • "Heil und Heilung - Theologie und Psychoanalyse," speech at a conference of therapists in Basel, Switzerland (1977-05-21)
  • Look at why Jesus strictly avoided speaking the language of the theologians of his day. It’s plain to see what an enormous liberation there lies in hearing something about God in the words of poetry. Imagine that we would speak about God in the music of Mozart and Beethoven or in the pictures of van Gogh... It would be impossible to fight wars over the true faith in the Name of Mozart or van Gogh... The language of poetry, the parables of Jesus, is international. You can’t and mustn’t pour them into dogmas.
    • "Heil und Heilung - Theologie und Psychoanalyse," speech at a conference of therapists in Basel, Switzerland (1977-05-21)
  • In my eyes, concepts of theology have only as much value as they are able to interpret experience. It seems to me that we have long reached the point where we theologians only talk to ourselves and debate with our own history of concepts.
    • Wort des Heils, Wort der Heilung. p 149 (1989)
  • Pride is a reaction formation to the feeling of inferiority, of the experience of powerlessness, of not being worthy enough of love. Only anxiety compels a person to lose moderation and to want to be more than he is. Out of fear of being an animal, he has to become an angel. Out of fear of being a nothing, a god. Anxiety never allows him to be simply a man.
    • Strukturen des Bösen III LXXVII (fifth edition 1986)

About Eugen Drewermann

  • Drewermann's contribution is indispensable for two reasons: because he takes mental/spiritual suffering seriously and works for the liberation of those who "all their life long, crippled and cramped by fear, were prevented from risking themselves in life." Secondly, because he does something for the worldwide Church which Latin American liberation theologians cannot achieve but need: he challenges the megainstitution's attempt to stabilize power by means of fear and names authoritarian religion "a form of violence."
    • Dorothee Sölle, "Heilung und Befreiung," from Der Klerikerstreit, ed. Peter Eicher, p. 30. (1990) Quoted (and translated) in Matthias Beier, A Violent God-Image. An Introduction to the Work of Eugen Drewermann, p 3 (2004)
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