EKD Press Releases
"Welcome, Whoever You Are"
Joint statement by churches for the 2012 Intercultural Week
May 22, 2012
"Welcome, whoever you are." This is the theme of the 2012 Intercultural Week being held from 23 to 29 September.
In a joint statement released today, the chairman of the German Bishops' Conference Archbishop Dr Robert Zollitsch, the chair of the Council of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD) Präses Dr. h.c. Nikolaus Schneider and the President of the Orthodox Bishops' Conference in Germany Metropolitan Augoustinos of the Greek Orthodox metropolitinate, in light of recent racist and extreme right activities, have urged that "every expression of group-focused enmity be opposed with civil courage." The Intercultural Week "offers the opportunity to address everyday experiences of discrimination and to allow migrants to speak about their experiences." One of the main focuses of the 2012 Intercultural Week, therefore, will be identifying both overt and disguised racism and testing counter-strategies so that Germany can continue to evolve as an open, free and democratic society.
This year's theme is also an appeal to politicians not to judge immigration only from the utilitarian point of view: "This approach is reductionistic and is not compatible with the basic values of our society and the fundamental insights of our faith," the church leaders said. In this context, they are calling for a comprehensive and above all, humanitarian right of residence provision "giving the elderly, the weak, the sick and single parents also a chance."
Because of globalized mobility, not only Germany, but all of Europe is confronted with the challenge of dealing with immigration and, at the same time, admitting refugees in a humanitarian way. The churches stressed, "The large nations in the center of Europe cannot dump full responsibility for the protection of refugees on the peripheral countries or on neighboring countries outside the European Union." This is being discussed by European interior ministers in the current talks concerning a revision of the Dublin II Regulation. The human rights of refugees need to be protected precisely at the external borders, Zollitsch, Schneider and Augoustinos further stated.
This and other topics were taken up in the resource material for the Intercultural Week. This material contains suggestions for organizing worship services, examples and ideas for action, as well as information about exhibits and resources.
The national launch of the 2012 Intercultural Week will take place on September 21 in Potsdam at an ecumenical service of worship with the participation of Bishop Dr Markus Dröge, Evangelical Church Berlin-Brandenburg-Silesian Oberlausitz, Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki, Archdiocese of Berlin, and a representative of the Greek Orthodox metropolitan in Germany. World Refugee Day is on September 28, 2012. Around 4,500 events in over 450 cities and congregations throughout Germany are anticipated.
Hanover, May 22, 2012
Press Office of the EKD