Ecumenical News International

Bedford-Strohm: warding refugees off is not Christian

September 17, 2015

Nuremberg (epd). In the view of Heinrich Bedford-Strohm, chair of the Council of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD), it is a contradiction to want to keep refugees out of Europe with reference to the 'Christian West'. "The content of Christian faith is turned upside down if the word 'Christian' is used as an argument for scaring refugees off," the Lutheran bishop of Bavaria told a Nuremberg newspaper. It is a central component of Christian faith to welcome strangers and help the most vulnerable, he added.

Bedford-Strohm said that he was not expecting the situation to improve through closing borders and erecting new fences between countries. Perhaps that would lead to "even more chaos". In any case, the flows of refugees would not be stopped by fences and barbed wire, but only rerouted, he predicted. Bedford-Strohm called for policy-makers to find a "fundamental consensus" on "what we want in Europe and what our common values are". Furthermore, it is "hard to understand" why it is not possible to equip the UNHCR with enough money to buy food for refugees, he declared.

"People come forward and put their faith into practice"

Bedford-Strohm is convinced that "this crisis is invigorating our church." For him it is "wonderful to see how many people are ready to come forward in their local communities and put their faith into practice".

At the same time, Bedford-Strohm disputed the criticism that the churches were not doing enough to provide accommodation for refugees. We are doing "all we can", he claimed, and even parish halls are no longer "taboo". However, the authorities often reject such offers saying that the buildings were not suitable for accommodation, he explained.

Prof. Dr. Heinrich Bedford-Strohm
is chair of the Council of the EKD and bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Bavaria




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