“A very reliable interlocutor”

With Volker Beck as the spokesman for religious policy in the Green parliamentary group, the churches lose a reliable, albeit disputatious, contact person. This is what the head of the Catholic Office in Berlin, Prelate Justen, says on our site interview.

Interviewer: How did you react when you heard that Volker Beck was resigning his posts?

Prelate Karl Justen (head of the Catholic Office in Berlin): I was shocked at first. I have always found Mr. Beck to be a very contentious, but also very reliable interlocutor. After all, he will remain in the German Bundestag – so I will certainly continue to work with him. That was not always easy, because Mr. Beck is also a very argumentative person, and he has also fought out one or two disputes with the two churches – especially with the Catholic Church. But always constructive. We also worked together very cooperatively on many ies. In the area of palliative medicine, hospice medicine, when it came to assisted suicide or the protection of life in general, Mr. Beck was always on our side – and will hopefully continue to be so.

Interviewer: What were the topics of contention, where did you not agree??

Justen: Mr. Beck is the best lobbyist in the Bundestag, he has always been a strong advocate for the rights of homosexuals, the Catholic Church has a different perspective on this. Even on the ie of registered civil partnerships, the assessment of sexuality in general – we don't always agree on that. It was also about the question of how religion in Germany should be structured and organized. In the beginning, we argued a lot, and in the end, we came to a very green agreement with Mr. Beck. Where, in fact, he sees the German state-church relationship as a huge opportunity, especially with regard to Islam.

Interviewer: When it comes to the controversial ies – how did Volker Beck respond to the arguments of the Catholic Church??

Justen: Mr. Beck is someone who likes to discuss and argue, and is also dialogical. He is very persistent and does not change his opinions very quickly. But he can also be convinced by one good argument. And these are members of parliament, as we appreciate them.

Interviewer: For a long time before Beck, Christa Nickels was the spokesperson for religious policy, and you also worked and discussed with her – what was the difference??

Justen: Ms. Nickels is, after all, an offspring of Catholic youth work. It has very strongly brought the Catholic or Christian topics into the Green Party in the first place. You could say that a large part of the Green movement comes from the church. And this is what Ms. Nickels stands for and has stood for throughout her political life. She has more or less created this office of the religion-political spokeswoman. The Greens were the first to have such an office, and she made it what all parliamentary groups know today.

Interviewer: Volker Beck is now resigning as the Greens' spokesman on religious policy – is that a loss for you??

Justen: Well, he remains in the Bundestag, but in the church many see him naturally also very critically. He had very critical disputes with Cardinal Meisner, they also met in court, which was then thankfully settled. So he will certainly not be missed by everyone in the Church of God in this function. But as an argumentative fighter I will probably also miss him then.

Interviewer: Now a lot of malice is dumped on Beck. Do you find this justified?

Justen: So, this is a general phenomenon that does not only affect Mr. Beck. That was the case when Mr. Hartmann (In 2014, SPD politician Michael Hartmann resigned from his posts in the Bundestag after admitting to using crystal meth to enhance performance, A.d.R.) was overthrown, that was so when the Federal President Wulff was overthrown. I find this kind of gloating, as it is now being spread in particular via the so-called social networks, indecent. People should think about it: If they themselves were in the public eye and did something wrong, would they want to be attacked in this way?. Even if they themselves come from the moral point of view. I find this kind of malice, which has found its way into our country, shabby.

The interview was conducted by Uta Vorbrodt.

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