Last week, a Catholic bishop named not only differences but also similarities with the AfD. Now the head of the German Bishops’ Conference is distancing himself with very clear words.
Shortly before the state elections in Bavaria and Hesse, the chairman of the German Bishops’ Conference, Georg Bätzing, described the positions of the AfD and the Catholic Church as “incompatible”. The church must position itself here and find clear words, said Bätzing at the beginning of the autumn general meeting of the Catholic Church in Wiesbaden.
“I am very convinced that the positions of the AfD and the positions of the Catholic Church are incompatible, because we are dealing here with a party that is not an alternative for Germany, but that wants an alternative Germany, a xenophobic, an anti-European, a nationalist Germany – proven extremist in certain people and parts of this party,” said Bätzing. “We as the Catholic Church can only distance ourselves from this.”
Bishop causes severe irritation
The Augsburg Bishop Bertram Meier caused severe irritation last week when he said, among other things: “Like the church, the AfD advocates, for example, the protection of unborn life or the marriage of a man and a woman – and yet we can Church should not narrow our view of such overlaps.” The canon lawyer Thomas Schüller then accused Meier of making himself a “stirrup holder for broader social acceptance of right-wing radicals.”
Bätzing also took a clear position on the migration issue. There are hundreds of thousands of people working within the Catholic Church to welcome and integrate refugees, said the Limburg bishop. “The culture of welcome is not over,” he emphasized. It is important to see that these people knocked on the door out of emergency. “It is a duty for Christians to open their doors and their hearts.”
Hengsbach case concerns church
Bätzing accused the former Ruhr bishop Franz Hengsbach (1910-1991), who was accused of abuse, of “criminal behavior”. “The uncertainty for believers in this diocese when you see what a high pedestal this man stood on as the founding bishop and then falls – that cannot be compared with anything,” said Bätzing. “These are generations of people who were formed there and then are disappointed by the criminal behavior of such a bishop. For me, that actually has a quality that we haven’t had before.”
Bätzing pointed out that other affected people were currently reporting. “That always means that the allegations are substantiated.” Now the following applies: “Everything must be on the table, the truth must be on the table. This is the only way those affected will get justice.” He hopes that the case can be solved long after the alleged perpetrator’s death.
Bätzing emphasizes the inviolability of the right to asylum
In his sermon at the opening evening service in downtown Wiesbaden, Bätzing called for the inviolability of the right to asylum. According to Bätzing, every person’s dignity is inviolable from the first to the last moment, not the property of anyone or anything. “This also applies to the people who, out of need and fear for their lives, end up stranded at the borders of the European Union – if they even make it there on all the dangerous routes – and ask for asylum.”
The church as a whole is in the phase of fundamental upheaval and, in view of massive crisis phenomena, needs serious repair and renewal, said Bätzing, also with a view to the upcoming world synod in Rome. Such processes could never run without conflict – “not among the believing people of God, not among experts and theologians and not among bishops.”
Protester: “I would like to quit”
The opening service was accompanied by a vigil by women’s and reform groups in front of the church. On banners and posters they called, among other things, for women to be ordained priests and for a consistent investigation into the scandal surrounding the sexual abuse of children and young people by clergy. “It’s unbelievable,” said one participant at the vigil, complaining about years of covering up allegations of abuse. “I would like to quit,” said an 86-year-old demonstrator. She also no longer believes that the church is capable of real reforms.
Pope Ambassador Nikola Eterovic, who is known to be extremely conservative, warned the church against gender “ideology” in a greeting to the German Bishops’ Conference. He quoted from the biblical story of creation: “God created man (…) Male and female he created them.” The Apostolic Nuncio, who represents the Vatican to the federal government, commented: “Unfortunately, this image has now been forgotten in some circles of the church.”
I have been working in the news industry for over 6 years, first as a reporter and now as an editor. I have covered politics extensively, and my work has appeared in major newspapers and online news outlets around the world. In addition to my writing, I also contribute regularly to 24 Hours World.