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Bishop Georg Bätzing: "As a Catholic Church, we can only distance ourselves from this"

Photo: IMAGO/Peter Back / IMAGO/Future Image

Before the start of the autumn meeting of the German Bishops' Conference, Bishop Georg Bätzing called for a clear position on the AfD. "I am very convinced that the positions of the AfD and the positions of the Catholic Church are incompatible," said the Limburg bishop and chairman of the German Bishops' Conference.

In view of the high AfD ratings in election polls and increasing populist, extremist positions in the political spectrum, it is also a task for the churches to "position ourselves and find clear words".

"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," said Bätzing. "As a Catholic Church, we can only distance ourselves from this."

The Bishop of Augsburg, Bertram Meier, had caused irritation last week when he said, among other things: "Like the Church, the AfD, for example, advocates the protection of unborn life or the marriage of a man and a woman – and yet we as a Church cannot narrow our view to such overlaps." The canon lawyer Thomas Schüller then accused Meier of making himself a "stirrup holder for a broadening social acceptance of right-wing radicals".

»A welcoming culture has not been over«

Bätzing also took a clear position on the issue of migration. There are hundreds of thousands of people who are committed to the reception and integration of refugees within the Catholic Church, said the Limburg bishop. "A welcoming culture has not been over," he stressed. It is important to see that these people are knocking on the door out of an emergency. "It is the duty of Christians to open their doors and their hearts".

Meanwhile, Bätzing accused the former Ruhr bishop Franz Hengsbach, who was accused of abuse, of "criminal behavior." The uncertainty for believers in this diocese, when you see on what a high pedestal this man stood as a founding bishop and then falls – that cannot be compared with anything," said Bätzing.

"These are generations of people who have been shaped there and are then disappointed by the criminal behavior of such a bishop," Bätzing continued. "For me, it actually has a quality that we haven't had before." In Essen, the monument of Hengsbach was dismantled on Monday.