In Germany, Alternative für Deutschland; in France, Le Front national, now agonising over a necessary change of name. Both are the creatures of elite policy-making, and executive paralysis, hebetude and jejune moralizing, stretching back over decades. Germany is expected to entertain another million refugees and migrants this year. Catholicism and ‘identity anguish’ are converging in the AfD, a development as much deplored by Angela Merkel as welcomed by the voyeuristic pyromaniacs of No Borders and SOS Racisme. The latter ‘antifascist’ coalition can now open up a new front on which to preen their nihilism: the struggle against the Catholic Church. This article by a guest contributor in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung takes up the subject.
Björn Höcke, Alternative für Deutschland
❝ Konservative Katholiken und Evangelikale haben endlich eine politische Kraft gefunden, die zu ihnen passt: die AfD…. Conservative catholics and Evangelicals have at last found a political engine that is going their way: the AfD (Alternatives for Germany). They have a shared sentiment that is hostile to refugees and the pope. Their new heros are Putin and Orbán.
In Erfurt, the cathedral remains dark whenever the AfD’s extreme right-winger, Björn Höcke, speaks. The catholic bishop, Ulrich Neymeyr, has the lights in this place of worship switched off during the AfD’s Wednesday demonstrations. He refuses to dignify the rallies with such a splendid backdrop. For Höcke, this is appalling. “It is not the cathedral, and it was never the cathedral of the church hierarchy. It is our people’s cathedral; that is our cathedral”, he yelled out in mid-January. By the darkening of the cathedral, the Erfurt bishopric means to demonstrate clearly that Höcke’s demagoguery has nothing to do with Christianity. Höcke, who is the AfD’s party whip in the Thuringian parliament (Landtag), has used these public appearances to commit ever greater faux pas. On one occasion, he called out, “thousand year Germany!” and demanded the crowd chant “rabble!” at the counter-demonstration. Or he declared, “Erfurt is pure German, and pure German it should remain”. There were “only 64.5M Germans without a migrant background”, he lamented. The mood of his several thousand supporters has become ever more aggressive.
A Flood of Hate-mail
Despite the bishop’s disapproval, there are amongst Christian believers those to whom such words are appealing. That explains the furious reaction directed at the bishopric by church members, including threats to leave the church. It played out similarly for the archdiocese of Cologne, when on the occasion of the Cologne Pegida demonstration in December 2014, the cathedral provost switched off the lights. And the archdiocese of Bamberg has been receiving a flood of hate-mail since the local archbishop delivered a public warning on Pegida.
Obviously, radicalisation of the middle class doesn’t end with the Christians; but catholics and evangelicals are proving to be especially susceptible. In this environment, a division has developed over the past few years into moderate and ideologically hardened factions. A similar split in the AfD; the Pegida movement; the conflict over “gay marriage”; and the refugees, have all accelerated this process. Right from the start, Christians identifying themselves as ‘conservative’, but long-time right-wingers, have been sympathetic to Pegida. Little wonder, then, that for years they have harboured resentment towards the political establishment and the quality press. They are inclined to vilify German democracy as little different from a dictatorship, which the ‘people’ must resist.
Not even the papal relief organisation, Church in Need [Kirche in Not], is immune from this development. At the organisation’s international congress last year, there was a podium bearing the legend, “Against the flood of received opinion and political correctness”. Moreover, the newsletters and publications put out by radical Christians call attention to the dangers of anti-Christian persecution in Germany. ❞