German bishop is standing by Muslim migrants after attack. But will anyone listen?
A bloody attack by an ax-wielding teenage Afghan refugee may be a turning point in the debate over migrants in Germany, analysts have warned.
The rampage has “ignited fresh questions about whether Chancellor Angela Merkel’s open door last year to migrants had imperiled her nation’s security and overtaxed its ability to integrate them,” according to The Washington Post.
Anxiety over recent terror attacks by refugees have helped turn many Germans against their country’s welcoming attitude. Public opinion began to shift after nearly 1,200 women were sexually assaulted in Cologne on New Year’s Eve in attacks that were blamed on migrants.
Now, a local bishop is voicing his support for refugees, saying it would be a mistake to place suspicion on all those seeking asylum, The Post reported.
“Maybe we need to take care of unaccompanied minors even more so that they can overcome their trauma,” said Bishop Friedhelm Hofmann, according to The Post.
The comments echo Pope Francis’ words of unwavering support for refugees. In April, the pontiff made what the New York Times described as an “emotional visit” to meet incoming migrants in Greece. He then took 12 Muslim refugees back to Rome.
Bishop Hofmann’s plea comes at a particularly difficult time for the Church in Germany, which had seen more than 180,000 Catholics leave in 2015 alone. The number of baptisms and marriages has also declined, and church attendance has plummeted to only 10 percent.
The numbers seem to indicate a rather bleak future for the Catholic Church in Germany. It’s still the largest religious group in the country, but it’s arguably true that a decline in numbers also spells a decline in influence.
The key question that remains: At a time of global unrest and anxiety hitting closer to home, will ordinary Germans heed the bishop’s words?