Chancellor Angela Merkel, a few weeks before the election, clearly distinguished herself from the FDP on a number of sociopolitical ies and emphasized the CDU's Christian view of humanity. In an interview with the Catholic News Agency (KNA) in Berlin on Friday, Merkel commented on bioethical and family policy ies, the integration of Muslims and on her relationship with the pope.
CBA: Madam Chancellor, the pope will not come to Germany next year. Will you still meet him in the foreseeable future?
Merkel: I remember with pleasure the intense conversations I had with Pope Benedict XVI. and I know that, even in view of the financial market crisis, he is taking a very close look at ies of social responsibility. And so there are many topics of conversation that will be of common interest even after what I hope will be a successful Bundestag election. I look forward to further talks with the pope, gladly also as a guest.
CBA: The disagreements following the Williamson affair have thus been settled?
Merkel: Regarding the statements of Williamson, who relativized the Holocaust on German soil, I said what had to be said from my point of view. The Pope's personal stance on the Holocaust is and has been beyond doubt for me at all times.
CBA: According to the polls, it could be that you, that the CDU/CSU will soon have a majority together with the liberals. Aming that would be the case – will the topic of further liberalization of stem cell research then be negotiable for the CDU?
Merkel: The question of stem cell research and other bioethical ies are viewed differently by the CDU/CSU and the FDP. These ies are certainly a distinguishing feature of the CDU and CSU from all other parties, including the FDP. The CDU will not open itself to the ideas of the FDP, which are very far-reaching. We have already decided to postpone the cut-off date for stem cell research in this legislative period, which has already caused a lot of controversy. I see no need for further liberalization. We have the greatest common ground with the Liberals in economic policy, but in family policy, or even on stem cells or the topic of "living wills," it is different.. Here we are committed to the "C", i.e. the Christian image of mankind.
CBA: Where then are the differences in family policy?
Merkel: There is, for example, the question of the adoption of children also for same-sex partnerships, which is debated differently by the CDU/CSU and the FDP. The maintenance of spousal splitting is another ie in this context. It is important to us in order to underline the special protection of marriage. Here the Union has clear principles.
CBA: Part of your biography is that you are both a pastor's daughter and a physicist. How do you reconcile the Christian belief in the Creator God with the world view of natural science??
Merkel: For me, scientific knowledge, for example based on Darwin's theories, and my faith in God are very compatible. I don't believe that scientific exploration down to the smallest detail is a search for God, but that God is above it all. The earth in its scientific explorability is quite another matter.
CBA: When you think back 20 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall to the opposition groups in the Gethsemane Church or in the Zion Church in East Berlin: Is the impression correct that you kept a certain distance from this part of the reform movement?
Merkel: I fully shared the criticism of the socialist state, but some answers and conclusions were not close enough to reality for me. I remember, for example, how on 11. November, two days after the fall of the Wall, was at a birthday party with friends from church opposition groups. Most of them were happy about the looming end of the dictatorship, but rather unhappy about the idea of reunification and said that now the third way was over, now they would be incorporated, as it were, by the West. And I belonged to the very few in this round who was glad and spoke out for unity. At that time, there were many who had dreamed of something like a third way. I don't want to put that down, that's completely far from me, but it wasn't my attitude.
CBA: Interior Minister Schauble has taken a step toward political and social integration of Muslims in Germany with the Islam Conference. How do you envision this process playing out in the long run? Will there someday be Muslim holidays as state holidays in Germany? Will we have a Muslim chancellor one day?
Merkel: Our Basic Law guarantees freedom of religion, so there are no restrictions. It is important to me that we put this into lived reality as well. We have done two things in the past four years. On the one hand, we have brought the ie of integration as a central task here to the Chancellor's Office with Minister of State Maria Bohmer. In the coming years, we must take further steps to ensure good coexistence in everyday life. The second is the dialogue with Muslims that Wolfgang Schauble is conducting as the minister responsible for churches and religious communities. In the long term, we are striving for better state relations with Muslims. It is not always easy with Islam because of the different theological schools and nationalities and because there is no central point of contact. This is certainly a longer process both between the state and Muslims and between the different directions of Muslims among themselves. But from my point of view it is a very important process. And the dialogue between the churches and the Islamic representatives in Germany should also continue, which is also not always very easy and which must nevertheless be conducted with all seriousness.
CBA: But you see what has been achieved so far in the Islam Conference as a success?
Merkel: Yes, I see this as a clear step forward, even if we still have a long way to go. Incidentally, that's how participants at the Islam Conference saw it, too.
CBA: And the Islamic holidays?
Merkel: So I honestly don't see that. What I think is very important for the next few years is that we increasingly know more about each other. Not so long ago, hardly any non-Muslim knew anything about Ramadan, but today it's quite different. And the more Muslim employees there are in companies or even in administration or in the police and in ministries¸ the broader this knowledge becomes. This enriches our coexistence. The interview was conducted by KNA editor-in-chief Ludwig Ring-Eifel.