Status: 25/09/2023, 17:19 p.m.
Georg Bätzing, President of the German Bishops' Conference and Bishop of Limburg, makes a statement at the beginning of the Autumn Plenary Assembly. © Arne Dedert/dpa
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.
Wiesbaden - Shortly before the state elections in Bavaria and Hesse, the chairman of the German Bishops' Conference, Georg Bätzing, has 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 plenary assembly 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 - extremist proven in certain persons and parts of this party," Bätzing said. "As a Catholic Church, we can only distance ourselves from this."
Bishop causes severe irritation
The Bishop of Augsburg, Bertram Meier, had caused severe 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 of 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".
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. "The 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 hearts to them."
Hengsbach case occupies church
The former Ruhr bishop Franz Hengsbach (1910-1991), who was accused of abuse, accused Bätzing of "criminal behavior". "The uncertainty for believers in this diocese, when you see on what 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 criminal behavior by such a bishop, which for me actually has a quality that we have not had before."
Bätzing pointed out that other affected people are apparently coming forward at the moment. "That always means that the allegations are substantiated." Now the rule is: "Everything has to be on the table, the truth has to be on the table. Only in this way will those affected get their rights." He hopes that the case can be solved so long after the death of the alleged perpetrator.
Once again documented cover-up strategy
In Essen, the monument of Hengsbach was dismantled today. A crane hoisted the statue onto a truck. Less than a week ago, the diocese of Essen announced that there was a "serious" suspicion that Hengsbach (1910-1991) had sexually abused a 1950-year-old during his time as auxiliary bishop in Paderborn in the 16s. In addition, a woman accuses Hengsbach of another assault in 1967 during his time as bishop in Essen.
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The alleged acts and the church's cover-up strategy, which has been documented once again, destroyed remnants of trust, commented the President of the Central Committee of German Catholics (ZdK), Irme Stetter-Karp. "Again, the impression is created that it was not the victims but the perpetrators who were protected." The ZdK is the representation of the Catholic laity, the non-clerics in the parishes. Dpa