Sunday, February 25, 2024

Bishop Feige: AfD's "political incitement" accusation is "simply curious"

Magdeburg Bishop Gerhard Feige has rejected the harsh criticism from the AfD of the position taken by the German Bishops' Conference (DBK) against the party. 

"To be accused of 'political incitement' by people who have been agitating against others for years is simply strange to me," explained Feige on Saturday evening in Magdeburg. If the AfD thinks it has to "lecture us on what is 'truly Christian', it should first take a closer look at Christianity and its values".

"Right-wing extremist parties not electable for Christians"

At the end of its spring plenary assembly in Augsburg on Thursday, the DBK unanimously adopted a declaration entitled "Nationalist nationalism and Christianity are incompatible"

In it, the bishops clearly distanced themselves from the AfD. 

Following several waves of radicalisation, the party is now dominated by a völkisch-nationalist attitude. 

"The AfD oscillates between genuine right-wing extremism, which the Office for the Protection of the Constitution attests to in some state associations and the party's youth organisation, and right-wing populism, which is less radical and more fundamental," the bishops explained

In both cases, stereotypical resentments against refugees and migrants, against Muslims and, increasingly, against Jews are being given free rein.

"We say very clearly that ethnic nationalism is incompatible with the Christian image of God and man. Right-wing extremist parties and those that proliferate on the fringes of this ideology can therefore not be a place of political activity for Christians and are also not electable," the statement read verbatim. 

The spread of right-wing extremist slogans, which include racism and anti-Semitism in particular, is also incompatible with full-time or voluntary work in the church.

Feige: It's about liberal democracy

Following the publication of the statement, deputy AfD federal spokesperson Stephan Brandner accused the bishops of a "transparent election campaign and diversionary manoeuvre". 

"The state-funded bishops are confronted with their own disgusting scandals and now really have the chutzpah to join in the political agitation against the only opposition. This can hardly be surpassed in terms of audacity, self-absorption and transparency," Brandner wrote on Instagram

He called on the "princes of the church" to remember what the Catholic Church has stood for for around two thousand years.  

"And that was certainly not to trample on honest, uncomfortable citizens."

Feige emphasised that the bishops' declaration was also about the upcoming elections, "but not in favour of any other party, but about the fundamental decision as to whether we want to continue to live in a free democracy or stand idly by and watch as it is increasingly dismantled and undermined". 

Elections taking place in Germany this year include the European Parliament elections (9 June) and the state elections in Saxony and Thuringia (1 September) and Brandenburg (22 September). 

Polls for the state elections currently see the AfD in the lead in all three federal states.