Central Committee of German Catholics (ZDK)

The structure of the lay apostolate in the Church in Germany has, in contrast to „Catholic Action“, as it is known in other countries, developed a character which seamlessly combines independence with loyalty to the Church and commitment within the Church with social and political action. The multifaceted organisation of lay people focuses on the „Central Committee of German Catholics" (ZdK) which is active nationwide.

It is the body recognised by the German Bishops’ Conference in the sense of the Vatican Council’s Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity (No. 26) to coordinate the work of the various lay associations and enterprises and to assist the apostolic work of the Church.

The ZdK assembles the representatives of diocesan councils and Catholic associations, as well as institutions of the lay apostolate and personalities from the Church, politics and society. It observes the developments in social, state and church life and represents the interests of the Catholics in the public eye. The ZdK encourages the apostolic work of the Church and of the Catholics in society.

The ZdK has a say in Church decisions at a supra-diocesan level and advises the German Bishops’ Conference on social, state and Church matters. The link between the bishops and the lay representatives is formed by the Joint Conference which was established by the Würzburg Synod in 1975. Ten representatives of the Bishops’ Conference and ten members of the ZdK participate in the Joint Conference.

Another function of the ZdK is to prepare, coordinate and support joint initiatives and events such as the Katholikentage. In addition, it represents the interests of the German Catholics at international level.

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