Nuncio to the EU determined to root out all extremism

No interest in the common good

According to the EU Vatican Ambassador, the Church sees itself as responsible for opposing all forms of hatred of humanity. At the traditional Michaelmas reception, Bishop Bätzing also commented on the role of the Church.

In many countries, extremist or populist movements are currently finding fertile ground "that make protest the centrepiece of their political message" and have no interest in the common good, the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Noel Treanor, criticised in Berlin on Monday.

He made his remarks in a keynote address at the Catholic Church's Michaelmas reception for representatives from the Church, politics, society and business. Several bishops and representatives of other churches and religious communities took part.

Politicians were represented, among others, by Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD), who wore an eye patch after an injury sustained while jogging. Also present were the CDU leader Friedrich Merz and the Parliamentary group leader of the Left Party, Dietmar Bartsch, as well as numerous MPs.

Reliable facts are needed

Bishop Treanor saw the digital spread of misinformation as a particular challenge. It leads to a loss of confidence in the state and democracy. Politics lives from vital discussions and different assessments.

But it loses its ground "if we can no longer agree on the facts on the basis of which our representatives have to make their decisions". Everyone has a responsibility to protect democracy. The "art of compromise" is an essential part of this.

Bätzing emphasises the role of the Church in society

The President of the German Bishops' Conference, Bishop Georg Bätzing, said that the Church would continue to contribute to the cohesion of society. It does so with "its admonitions, reminders and practical ideas of charity", said the Bishop of Limburg. "As a Church, we want to continue to be measured by the fact that we stand up for the protection of life - especially at the beginning and at the end," Bätzing said.

(Cathcon: So Bishop, what happens when pro-life activity is judged to be extremist?)

"We will be measured by our defence of the dignity and rights of those who are on the margins of society: the socially disadvantaged, the sick, people with impairments, refugees." Bätzing named justice, peace, human rights and the integrity of creation as necessary guiding principles for society.

Call for realism

Bätzing demanded a "realistic and above all honest view" of the church. The erosion of the popular church, however, does not have to "lead to the gloomy finale of Christian life in Germany". The church is in a state of upheaval. The two large churches had "lost a huge number of members" in the past year.

The trend of de-churching had "massively gained momentum". He cited the individualisation of faith as a reason. At the same time, "faith in God is threatening to evaporate". Another reason is the sexual abuse in the church and decades of culpable looking away, glossing over and covering up.

The starting point of freedom and individual choice demanded new ways from the church to stand by people. "In this time of crisis, the necessity of proclaiming the message of Jesus Christ anew is clearly evident," said Bätzing.