Monday, September 26, 2016

German Catholic Church raises 80 million euros in migrant aid in first half of 2016

Cardinal Reinhard Marx at the German Bishops Conference in Fulda 2016Germany's Catholic Church raised around 80 million euros ($90 million) in refugee aid from January to July 2016, Cardinal Reinhard Marx, chair of the German Bishop's Conference, said on Thursday.

Speaking to the press at the closing of this year's annual conference, which took place in the eastern German city Fulda, Marx said the sum only takes basic provisions into account, and does not include the work undertaken by religious orders and associations. 

Aside from financial aid, Marx said at least 1,381 church buildings are providing lodging for around 28,000 refugees.

Of the money raised this year, more than 50 million euros were spent on financing projects in Germany, while around 27 million euros went towards provisions in crisis zones. These funds came in addition to the 112 million euros raised by the German Catholic Church in 2015.
Marx also said the number of full-time volunteers providing help to migrants living in Germany had risen from 5,100 to as many 100,000 in the space of just a year.

He called on dioceses and communities to continue providing for asylum-seekers in Germany, and on churches to offer special services, sermons and pilgrimages to Christian migrants in their mother tongues.

What is still lacking, however, are sensible laws on migration. Marx said it was "incomprehensible" that such laws had not yet been established.

"Germany is a country of immigration," he said. "Even if some people refuse to believe it."

Discourse on migrants 'alarmingly radicalized'

Marx said he found some of the rhetoric on migrants "alarmingly radicalized" and called on society and political circles to rediscover a more rational discourse. 

Radicalized rhetoric, Marx said, "was unjust towards migrants, the vast majority of whom are neither terrorists nor criminals, and unjust on civic society."

The remark was a reference to comments made by the Christian Social Union's (CSU) General Secretary Andreas Scheuer last week. When speaking of a Senegalese migrant, Scheuer said: "The worst is a football-playing, altar-serving Senegalese migrant, who has been here for three years - as an economic migrant. We can't get rid of him." 

The German Bishop's Conference condemned the remarks.

Marx said viewing the refugees themselves as a problem and simply seeking to quickly get rid of them was not the right way forward.

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