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Opening service of the spring general assembly of the German Bishops' Conference in Augsburg Cathedral

Photo: Karl-Josef Hildenbrand / dpa

The Catholic bishops have called on the faithful to clearly differentiate between right-wing extremism and nationalistic thinking.

»Ethnic nationalism is incompatible with the Christian view of God and humanity.

Right-wing extremist parties and those that proliferate on the fringes of this ideology cannot therefore be a place for Christians to engage in political activity and are also not eligible for election." This is what it says in a joint statement issued by Bishop Georg Bätzing as head of the German Bishops' Conference (DBK ) presented in Augsburg.

“The spread of right-wing extremist slogans – including racism and anti-Semitism in particular – is also incompatible with full-time or voluntary service in the church,” it continued.

But you should continue to talk to people who are receptive to this ideology.

“Radical theses should also be discussed, but they must also be exposed,” explained the bishops.

Economic or social problems as well as fears for the future should not be downplayed.

Appeal to the entire population

The bishops also address the entire population: “We appeal to our fellow citizens, including those who do not share our faith, to reject and reject the political offers of the far right.

Anyone who wants to live in a free and democratic society cannot find a home in this idea.«

According to current surveys, the AfD is threatening to become the strongest force in the upcoming elections in three eastern German states, said Bätzing.

It is therefore absolutely necessary that the Catholic Church takes a clear position.

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Georg Bätzing, head of the German Bishops' Conference

Photo: Arne Dedert/dpa

In the statement, the bishops write that after several bouts of radicalization, a ethnic-nationalist attitude now dominates in the AfD.

"The AfD oscillates between real right-wing extremism, which the Office for the Protection of the Constitution attests to in some state associations and the party's youth organization, and right-wing populism, which is less radical and fundamental."

In both cases, "stereotypical resentments are given free rein - against refugees and migrants, against Muslims, against the alleged conspiracy of the so-called global elites, and increasingly against Jews," it continues.

But human dignity is “the core of the Christian view of humanity and the anchor of our constitutional order.”

At their four-day spring general assembly, the bishops also discussed, among other things, the results of the church membership survey published in November, in which almost all German church members surveyed called for reforms within the church.

Another topic was the progress of the so-called Synodal Path to internal church reforms.

With a liturgical prayer in simple language, the Catholic Church wants to make it easier for people with intellectual disabilities to participate in church services in the future.

The bishops' conference now approved this prayer for testing in practice.

The liturgical prayer is the most important prayer at the center of the Holy Mass.