Tuesday, August 22, 2023

German Catholic lay group considers banning political party’s members from positions

Central Committee of German Catholics - Wikipedia

The head of one of Germany’s major Roman Catholic associations has called for banning members of the Alternative for Germany (AfD) from lay positions within the Roman Catholic Church, arguing their conservative values are in contradiction to the faith. 

Irme Stetter-Karp, President of the Central Committee of German Catholics (ZdK), stated that she did not believe that members of the AfD and their values were compatible with Christianity, and called their recent surge in the polls “dangerous.”

In an interview with the Catholic online magazine Kirche + Leben released earlier this week, Stetter-Karp argued, “Over the years, the party [AfD] has moved further and further to the right. And it is clear that anti-Semitic, racist, and inhuman attitudes and statements have no place in a Catholic organization.”

If AfD members run for office, it must therefore be examined whether such a candidacy can be rejected. It is the absolute minimum to specifically examine a commitment to Christian values and to the free democratic basic order and to tie an election to this individual confession so that deselection can be justified in the event of a violation.

She added:

An active advocacy for the AfD contradicts the basic values of Christianity.

Stetter-Karp also lamented the rise of traditionalist voices in the Catholic Church, accusing them of becoming “louder and more shrill” and acknowledged possible overlaps between traditionalists and supporters of the AfD. 

She went on to criticise the Vatican itself for devaluing democracy because it refuses to “accept core democratic principles for the clarification of questions within the Church, and has repeatedly rejected them, and thus indirectly devalues democracy.”

President Stetter-Karp was one of the leaders of the German Synodaler Weg (Synodal Way), which ended earlier this year and passed votes calling for radical liberal policies within the church, including blessing same-sex relationships, calling for the end of priestly celibacy, and opening up the priesthood to women. 

Stetter-Karp is a firm advocate of opening up ordination for women, stating

The stubborn adherence to the dual anthropology and the confinement of women to the space outside of the ordained ministry tends to drive women, especially young women, out of the Church in the 21st century.

Following the end of the Synodal Way in March, Stetter-Karp expressed anger despite the success of nearly all of the ultra-liberal positions at the synod.

“We are witnessing in recent weeks a Church in which leading men are cementing their power, refusing developments, and further deepening the rifts between the Church and the world,” she said. 

Her comments were made after Vatican liturgy prefect Cardinal Arthur Roche rejected a Synodal Way resolution that proposed allowing lay people to preach homilies at Masses and allow lay people to lead baptisms. 

“This is not an exclusion of the laity,” Cardinal Roche said and added, “nor is it, of course, a denial of the right and duty of every baptised person, male or female, to proclaim the Gospel, but rather a confirmation of the specificity of this form of proclamation, which is the homily.”

The rebuke from Cardinal Roche, who is also a critic of traditionalists and has been part of Pope Francis’s move to restrict the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, also known as the Traditional Latin Mass (TLM), reveals that the Synodal Way’s proposals are too radical even for clergy considered somewhat progressive in their views.

AfD MEP Maximillian Krah, himself a practising Catholic, criticised both Stetter-Karp and the ZdK on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, saying

The ‘Central Committee of Catholics’ is by no means the result of elections, but is a club of functionaries who mostly live off church taxes full-time, are unemployable in the primary job market, and therefore hate themselves, the church and faith.

Petr Bystron, AfD MP from Bavaria, said in a comment to The European Conservative:

It’s not just about the catholic church. In all churches, trade unions, associations and NGOs, members of the established parties sit on the executive boards.

They abuse these organizations for the partisan struggle against our new and very successful party. This is an attempt to prevent us from breaking through into these front-line organizations as well. But the same thing happens here as in politics. The members are fed up with the paternalism. In the case of the official churches it means the highest exit rates in history. Their Membership is at an all-time low.