“God will have thought of something”

Jens Spahn at the Catholic Day in Munster 2018 © Rolf Vennenbernd

He was an altar boy, went to an Episcopal school and is a Catholic. And Jens Spahn would also have liked to become CDU chairman. An interview about faith, dealing with disappointment and the "meddling" of the official church in politics.

Interviewer: How great was the disappointment after the election results for the CDU party chairmanship??

Jens Spahn (Federal Minister of Health and CDU politician): I started out to win. We humans always find it nicer to win than to lose. At the same time I have seen the polls and could read the mood. There I was somehow already prepared for it.

Nevertheless, it was important to me to make this offer, this candidacy, to take on responsibility from the younger generation and to set my own themes. That has been done quite well in this trial. Overall, this has done the party good. That's why I'm at peace with myself.

Interviewer: You say of yourself that you are a convinced Catholic. Does faith help you in such situations of disappointment??

Spahn: Yes. In any case, it makes me more relaxed in all situations in life, even if one makes a small mistake or has a slip of the tongue. We humans have strengths and weaknesses. We make mistakes. We sometimes let ourselves be tempted. Knowing that you are always in someone's hands and that you are accepted as such, even with your weaknesses, is rearing. For me, being Catholic, especially in connection with politics, is above all a question of attitude, which also gives inner peace.

Interviewer: Do you feel safe in your church, when your church calls homosexuality a sin, for example, and thus rejects and condemns your own personal life model??

Spahn: I have known this for a few years as well. I always say to myself: The good Lord must have thought of something that I am the way I am. That is the decisive part for me, to be at peace with myself, my faith and my God, so to speak.

I take note of the statements I read these days from the Catholic Church, in part also from the pope. Sometimes I also wonder. But I also don't feel like getting upset about it anymore.

Interviewer: On which political ies are you guided by your faith?? Find concrete examples?

Spahn: There are seldom points where it really becomes very concrete. I don't think I can derive a Hartz IV rate from faith. So how high should it be. Whether five euros more or less.

But when it comes to the protection of life – these are, of course, ies that also concern me in the Ministry of Health – then it becomes very, very fundamental. And then I am also a Catholic.

I don't think we as human beings should define when life begins and how life is worth living. Every life has its right and its dignity and is worth living. We should not somehow get to the point – see euthanasia – of defining when life is no longer worth living. The moment a person presumes to want to define it, he plays God. This quickly creates an imbalance.

Interviewer: That is, that's where you bring the conviction from your faith into politics with you. Nevertheless, you wrote an article some time ago criticizing bishops who speak out on factual ies of the day's politics. Why?

Spahn: Because I think that sometimes the official church and the official representatives have to be careful that it's still about church and not that it's just another social association. Caritas is doing its work and so are many other Catholic associations. I myself am very involved in the KJG (Catholic Young Community). d. Red.) and in the BDKJ (Federation of German Catholic Youth, note. d. Red.) been. But when it comes to the church, to pastoral care and to faith, this is the decisive component.

My main concern is to find consolation. The questions "why", "where from" and "where to" are the core questions of faith and not the question how high the Hartz IV rate is. That one is important, but that one, in my view at least, is not first a question for bishops to comment on. Or the question of how we resolve certain everyday political ies, up to and including some debates on migration or security policy. If you are too often involved in everyday politics, then at some point, I believe, it is also more difficult to take a credible and credible position in the truest sense of the word on very fundamental ies.

The interview was conducted by Verena Troster.

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