Print Version    Email to Friend
German Church leaders deplore xenophobic violence

WARSAW (CNS): “From a Christian perspective, violence cannot be an answer to violence. An offense must not be utilized to incite anger against entire ethnic groups,” Bishop Heinrich Timmerevers of Dresden-Meissen, said on August 28, as Germany’s Catholic leaders condemned anti-immigrant riots in Chemnitz, Saxony, that erupted after a man was killed in a brawl with migrants.’
“This deadly stabbing is a criminal offense which needs clearing up and sanctioning by the rule of law. It can never justify xenophobic, inhuman mass demonstrations,” Bishop Timmerevers told KNA, Germany’s Catholic news agency.
The August 26 to 27 riots left at least 20 seriously injured when police failed to separate 6,000 right-wing protesters from a smaller counter-demonstration.
Meanwhile, the president of the German Bishops’ Conference, Reinhard Cardinal Marx of Munich and Freising, urged Christians to counter “nationalism, injustice and the restriction of freedom” with “vigilance and political action.”
During a Mass on August 26 in Munich’s St. Kajetan Church, KNA reported the cardinal as saying, “We have to look at how people speak, how some nations fall back into nationalism, and how warlike language is trumpeted again.” 
Cardinal Marx said, “As Christians, we know where we have to stand. The Catholic social gospel must be applied to concrete historical times, with its fundamental principles of human dignity, freedom, justice for all and commitment to peace and reconciliation.” 
Police said the riots were sparked when a 35-year-old German was stabbed early on August 26 following a street festival in Chemnitz. An Iraqi-born man and a Syrian-born man face charges in connection with the killing.
The minister president of Saxony, Michael Kretschmer, told Deutsche Welle on August 29 that the mood had been inflamed by “xenophobic comments, false information and conspiracy theories” posted on social media by right-wing groups, including Germany’s anti-Muslim Pegida movement.
The riots, which German chancellor, Angela Merkel, characterised as “mob-like,” were the latest of several xenophobic incidents mainly in poorer eastern Germany, where the Christian Democrat-led government has been widely criticised for accepting migrants and refugees from war-torn countries in 2015 and 2016.
The rector of Chemnitz’s St. John Nepomucene Church, Father Clemens Rehor, told the Catholic Church’s Dom Radio on August 28 that a much larger right-wing rally had taken place in the city in May, adding that the causes of the latest violence were “not yet fully understood.”
He said, “We are trying to respond, explaining to people they are loved by God and should also love each other, but there are very few Christians here.” 
Father Rehor said, “Although there are good initiatives and spiritual communities are doing as much as possible, our 6,000 Catholics have a relatively weak voice in a population of 247,000.”

More from this section