German Lutheran and Catholic bishops have criticised the political “egotism” and “reciprocal blame games” that have marred the EU’s COVID-19 response to date, and have warned that “only a united Europe can overcome the societal, economic and social consequences” of the pandemic.

“Europe is the future”

Statement of the Chairs of the German Bishops Conference and the Council of the Evangelical Church in Germany on the German presidency of Council of the European Union (July-December 2020)

(Source: Evangelical Church in Germany)

With an urgent plea that the future of people in Europe lies in Europe and should not be left to the nation states alone, Bishop Heinrich Bedford-Strohm, chair of the Council of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD), and Bishop Georg Bätzing, chair of the German Bishops’ Conference, have encouraged an active design of the German presidency of the Council of the European Union.

In the context of the six-month Council presidency beginning on 1 July 2020, and beyond, German politicians should shape the future of our common European home with responsibility for European cohesion.

“Only a united Europe can overcome the societal, economic and social consequences of the coronavirus pandemic,” Bishop Bedford-Strohm and Bishop Bätzing remark.

They add: “No one is gaining from national attempts to go it alone, by egotism and reciprocal blame games; instead, the concern must be to tackle the great challenges in a spirit of European solidarity.

“As the largest and economically strongest EU Member State, Germany has an opportunity through the Council presidency to play a leading role in the spirit of primus inter pares.”

The two bishops explicitly underline that the course already embarked upon towards a climate-neutral society should be resolutely continued, biodiversity should be preserved, and the environment protected.

There is much to indicate, they note, that the coronavirus pandemic is impacting most on structurally disadvantaged countries and mainly poorer population groups.

“Consequently, the Council presidency should be used as an opportunity to support the countries hardest hit, also outside the EU. A clear expression of European responsibility for the global common good would be e.g. an initiative for the social and ecological set up of supply and value chains in line with human rights,” the bishops write.

As further topics for Germany‘s Council presidency the churches name digitalisation, opening up prospects for the younger generation, a just and solidarity-based asylum policy, as well as guaranteeing democracy and the rule of law in pluralist societies.

Bishop Bedford-Strohm and Bishop Bätzing: “During its Council presidency, Germany can take forward-looking initiatives to shape European responses to the current European and global challenges. In these difficult times, European integration urgently needs new momentum.”

– Hanover, 17 June 2020

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PhD in ancient Jewish/Christian history and philosophy. University ethics lecturer with 4 years' experience in religion journalism.