Ecumenical News International

Di Fabio warns of simple explanations in refugee crisis

November 09, 2015

Bremen (epd). Udo Di Fabio, a former federal constitutional court judge, has warned against overly simple explanations in the current discussion about dealing with refugees. There is a looming threat of "a de-differentiation of society", Di Fabio told the Synod of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD) in Bremen. Instead, the problems should be the subject of careful reflection.

At the same time, Di Fabio called on the 120 members of synod to get involved: "Don't let us leave the state to manage alone." The state needs faith as a challenge - and faith needs the state. Believers are not political actors "but they comment on the political process". In an ambivalent way, the "human imperative" and the order of the constitutional state belong together, Di Fabio declared.

Die Fabio sees the relations between church and state as part of the "dialectic of the Modern Age" that has developed out of the spirit of the Reformation. Hence it is undesirable to have a situation in which one group closes the borders while appealing to the state, and the other flings them open while appealing to the "human imperative", said the lawyer.

Di Fabio, who teaches Law at Bonn University, was speaking on the Keynote theme of the Synod: the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in 2017 and the consequences of the Reformation. A Catholic, he chairs the Academic advisory board of
"Reformation anniversary 2017

Luther's two-kingdoms doctrine as a contribution to the development of secular law

According to Di Fabio, Martin Luther raised "the fundamental question about the relationship between church and state" with the publication of his 95 Theses in 1517 and his sharp criticism of the brisk trading in indulgences at the time. Although that had not been Luther's intention, he had made a contribution to secular law through his central doctrine of the two kingdoms.
"The fact that Luther preached respect for the authorities while declaring disobedience to Rome can only be explained from his two-kingdoms doctrine," Di Fabio asserted. Insisting on freedom of conscience was also part of the church's restricting its sphere of action to religion, in his view. In secular terms, this was then a basis for the "emergence of the individual freedoms of conscience and religion which can be held up to the authorities as human rights," he noted.
Cornelia Richter, a Protestant professor of systematic theology from Bonn, also gave a presentation on the keynote theme. She referred to the "serious ambivalences" of the Reformation. However, she called on those present not to make it a "backward-looking" anniversary, only concentrating on the past and emphasising the history of human and institutional conflicts. Instead, the Reformation anniversary should focus on the future. Furthermore, with all its engagement for the world, faith should not be reduced to a social policy programme, Richter advised.



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