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Claudia Menke / www.katholikentag.de

© Claudia Menke / www.katholikentag.de

Can democracy and freedom still be taken for granted?

No AfD politicians have been invited to the current Catholic Day in Thuringia (29 May to 2 June). Both the Protestant and Catholic churches have been taking a clear stance against right-wing extremism for years.

The East German Catholic bishops had already clearly distanced themselves from the AfD in January. In February, the German Bishops’ Conference then stated that the AfD is not electable for Christians. The Katholikentag now wants to send a clear signal ahead of the European elections and the state elections in Saxony, Thuringia and Brandenburg.

The Christian churches have clearly learnt from the mistakes they made during the Weimar era.

Even after 1945, many Christians of both denominations in this country found it difficult to admit their failure and silence during the Nazi dictatorship. Now the Catholics want to send a “signal for freedom and democracy” at their conference with 20,000 participants in Erfurt – as Munich Cardinal Reinhard Marx put it in the Süddeutsche Zeitung. (SZ 29/30 May 2024) But what is freedom for the Church? What freedom is for the FDP, for example?

Cardinal Reinhard Marx clearly distances himself from this: “The Christian view of humanity also means that freedom is not celebrated as boundless narcissism.” Christian freedom is always also responsible freedom.

Marx: “Insecurity is growing, at work, in the family, in the world. Right-wing extremists around the world are exploiting this and offering the usual agitation. The establishment is to blame or the others – the migrants, the Jews. We underestimated the fact that a “brown dregs” were still there. It is true that 80 to 90 per cent of Germans do not follow Nazi slogans. However, it does worry me when 20 per cent, and even 30 per cent in the East, adhere to a party that promotes such positions.”
And why does democracy seem to be at risk?

Cardinal Marx: “Our democracy is based on the Christian view of humanity. People are orientated towards the good. They can act responsibly. The Basic Law states: in “responsibility before God and mankind.” Before God does not mean that God makes the laws, but that we recognise in freedom that we are not God. The Christian view of humanity also means that freedom is not celebrated as boundless narcissism, but that life can only succeed if we live together responsibly with others. This is an essential foundation for the future of our community; it determines whether democracy has a future… Anyone who considers their own people to be of higher value is abandoning the common basis for discussion.” Nationalism has been the precondition for wars and violence for thousands of years.

When it comes to the survival issue of climate protection, the theses of the nationalist AfD are totally opposed to and incompatible with the positions of the Christian churches. In the environmental encyclical “Laudato si”, Pope Francis calls on all governments of the world to step up the fight against man-made climate change, which the AfD simply denies. This encyclical is the most important climate protection programme in the world. Measured against this appeal, every AfD politician is virtually an anti-Christian.

Experience with the populist right-wing Trump administration in the USA between 2017 and 2021 and shortly afterwards with the right-wing Bolsonaro government in Brazil shows that rulers who fight human and civil rights are not interested in climate protection either.

It is important to draw conclusions from this realisation for elections in Germany and Europe. It’s good that the Christian churches in Germany woke up in time this time. In all of its programmes, the AfD continues to advocate the destruction of the global climate.


Franz Alt 2024 | Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator 

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