WARSAW, Poland (CNS) — German Catholic leaders condemned anti-immigrant riots in an eastern Germany town that erupted after a German 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 Heinrich Timmerevers of Dresden-Meissen told KNA, Germany’s Catholic news agency, Aug. 28.
“From a Christian perspective, violence cannot be an answer to violence. An offense must not be utilized to incite anger against entire ethnic groups,” the bishop said.
Riots Aug. 26-27 in Chemnitz 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 urged Christians to counter “nationalism, injustice and the restriction of freedom” with “vigilance and political action.”
“We have to look at how people speak, how some nations fall back into nationalism, and how warlike language is trumpeted again,” Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich and Freising said during Mass Aug. 26 in Munich’s St. Kajetan Church, KNA reported.
“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,” Cardinal Marx said.
Police said the riots were sparked when a 35-year-old German was stabbed early Aug. 26 following a street festival in Chemnitz, 120 miles south of Berlin. An Iraqi-born man and a Syrian-born man face charges in connection with the killing.
The minister president of Saxony, Michael Kretschmer, told the Deutsche Welle broadcaster Aug. 29 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 criticized as “mob-like,” were the latest of several xenophobic incidents mainly in poorer eastern Germany, where the Christian Democrat-led government has been widely criticized 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 Aug. 28 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.”
“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.”
In a time of crisis CatholicPhilly.com keeps the information flowing
During the current coronavirus crisis, you can help CatholicPhilly.com deliver the kind of news people need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live ― every day.
Budgets are tight at this time, and CatholicPhilly's is no different than those of most families. We make sure your donation in any amount will go a long way toward continuing our mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire the thousands of readers who visit every month.
Here is how you can help:
- A $100 gift allows us to present award-winning photos of Catholic life in our neighborhoods.
- A $50 gift enables us to cover a news event in a local parish, school or Catholic institution.
- A $20 gift lets us obtain solid faith formation resources that can deepen your spirituality and knowledge of the faith.
- A small, automated monthly donation means you can support us continually and easily.
Won't you consider making a gift today?
Please join in the church's vital mission of communications by offering a gift in whatever amount that you can ― a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more, or a monthly donation. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community.
Make your donation by credit card here:
Or make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103