An official within the German Catholic church has demanded that members of the populist Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) party be banned from holding lay offices.
Irme Stetter-Karp, the president of the Committee of German Catholics (ZdK), linked the party to “xenophobia”, “anti-Semitism” and other “inhuman attitudes”, arguing that anyone advocating for the AfD should be banned from holding positions within the Church.
“Active advocacy for the AfD contradicts the basic values of Christianity,” she told the Christian magazine Kirche+Leben.
She added that the rules surrounding such a blanket ban are “legally divisive” and that the church may be forced to examine every vocal AfD supporter on a case-by-case basis before blocking them from positions.
“If AfD members run for elected office, it must therefore be checked whether such a candidacy can be rejected,” Stetter-Karp said, adding that all applicants must show “a commitment to Christian values and to the free democratic basic order”.
She also demanded that the Catholic Church “not look away” from the AfD’s success in the polls, arguing that the organisation should serve as a bulwark against the hard Right.
Centre-left President of Germany Frank-Walter Steinmeier has warned the country’s citizens not to vote for the Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) party, describing it as a threat to democracy. https://t.co/X0op2nLc5o
— Brussels Signal (@brusselssignal) August 11, 2023
Demands for AfD members to be barred from senior lay positions in the Catholic Church have outraged many in the party, with practising Christians being especially vocal in their criticisms.
Maximilian Krah MEP – who was recently selected to become the leader of the party’s European Parliament delegation – lashed out at Stetter-Karp’s criticisms, putting particular emphasis on how she herself was “not democratically elected”.
“The ‘Central Committee of Catholics’ is by no means the result of elections, but is a club of functionaries who mostly live off church taxes full-time, cannot be placed on the primary job market and therefore hate themselves, the church and faith,” he wrote online.
Another MEP from the AfD Joachiam Kuhs criticised Stetter-Karp for seemingly trying to undermine the separation between religion and politics.
“It’s amusing that the ZdK jumps on the bandwagon to check the [democratic] constitutional loyalty of AfD members,” he said, arguing that the body should not be judging members by standards set by the German state.
“The Central Committee shows itself to be a compliant body in today’s woke society,” he added.
Andreas Jurca, a candidate for the Alternative fur Deutschland (AfD) party in Bavaria, was brutally assaulted at a campaign event. https://t.co/Fygcg9ShZK
— Brussels Signal (@brusselssignal) August 15, 2023