“Flesh of the flesh of the church”

Thirty years ago, when the first twelve members of the Green Party entered the NRW state parliament, the bishops were speechless. But they had more in common than they thought. But on some ies there is still a problem.

Interviewer: What was it like back then, this relationship between the church and the Greens??

Antonius Hamers (head of the Catholic Office in Dusseldorf): If you look at the pictures from 30 years ago, it was quite a colorful group. In retrospect, one can imagine that some of the bishops had difficulties with the Greens and especially with their political positions. There were even declarations of incompatibility in the 1980s, when bishops said: "As a Catholic, you can't vote for these Greens."

At the same time, from the very beginning, a number of our own people – people who came from youth work – became active in the Green Party. To that extent, you can say that in a way the Greens are flesh from the flesh of the Church.

Interviewer: What were the ies that caused a stir back then??

Hamers: The main topics of discussion were equality ies. An important ie of contention was certainly the question of abortion. There was a lot of bickering about that. Unfortunately, other topics on which we have common ground, such as environmental protection and the preservation of creation, have been pushed into the background.

Interviewer: And what was the tone back then? Did they really get on each other's nerves or were they just stalking each other?

Hamers: In some cases there have also been clear and strong statements. At first, there was a certain speechlessness. But there were, thank God, some people who came from the environment of our Catholic youth work and who then contributed significantly to the fact that this speechlessness has become a capacity for speech.

Interviewer: Is that still the case today, that people from Catholic backgrounds are also active in the Green Party?

Hamers: Quite. There are still quite a few who also have a closeness to the Catholic Church, who are very much influenced by this. Last but not least, our commitment, especially in the area of youth, is definitely also appreciated by many in the Greens – as before.

Interviewer: You have already hinted at it. There is a lot of overlap today. Especially since the Pope's encyclical "Laudato si", where environmental protection, the preservation of creation, is at the top of the list. How is the relationship today?

Hamers: There is a whole series of policy areas in which there is a great deal of agreement. Of course, there are also ies where one disagrees. Especially in the area of preserving creation, I think there are a lot of points of contact. But also when it comes to the question of refugees, there are a number of similarities.

But let us pause for a moment on the subject of the preservation of creation. I believe that this topic was made a major social ie by the Greens in the first place. I believe that this is also an important topic for us as a church. Pope Francis has picked up on that. It must not be forgotten that Pope Benedict XVI. which it took up at the time in its speech to the Bundestag. The question of the integrity of creation is in this respect a topic that has moved us as a church for a long time, but thank God it has now been brought more into focus by "Laudato si".

Interviewer: And where are things still particularly sticky today?

Hamers: I believe that we as a church have learned a great deal from the Greens. The Greens have set topics that have also gradually become important for us as a church and which we have also taken up. In my opinion, the Greens initiated processes in society that were important. Let's take the question of refugee protection. Or a higher acceptance of people who have a migration background and who live in our country: not only refugees, but also people who have come to us as migrant workers. Also, as far as acceptance and respect for minorities are concerned.

Not least also for the topic of homosexuality. I believe that the Greens have also brought this positively into society and thus also to us as a church. At the same time, these are ies where we still have problems. With "marriage for all" we are of course not of one opinion. But when it comes to treating people with respect, I think we have learned a lot from the Greens. The Greens have initiated discussions and social developments – and we as a church have also benefited from them.

The interview was conducted by Heike Sicconi.

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