Caritas President Neher has criticized hostile tones of politicians towards refugees. They wanted to make their mark with pithy demands for deportations to Afghanistan, Neher said. These tones would not only come from the AfD.
KNA (Catholic News Agency): Prelate Neher, next month Caritas is launching a campaign for the Bundestag elections with "Vote for Humanity". Have we lost our humanity two years after the high increase in the number of refugees??
Prelate Dr. Peter Neher (President of the German Caritas Association)No, fortunately that did not happen, on the contrary. But we have to take note of the fact that there are political forces in our society that are massively opposed to integration policy, and indeed to refugees in general, and that in doing so they also refer to Christian values.
With our action we do not want to make an election recommendation for a certain party. Instead, we want to call on people to go to the polls in the first place, and secondly, we want to set a clear tone: Voters should check the election programs to see to what extent the parties see people at the center of their actions.
CBA: Churches and their charities have been very involved in the reception and integration of refugees. Where is the problem??
Neher: After the reception, we are in the midst of socio-political campaigning. For refugees, this certainly includes learning a democratic culture, such as how the sexes treat each other, living in a pluralistic society and the role of religions, in addition to acquiring a language and a job. For some, the topic of the role of religion in our secular society was already ticked off, but a debate about it would be very important and necessary.
CBA: How do you experience the help of volunteers for refugees??
Neher: The support is still unbroken. But I would like to see more support from the state. Many helpers are repeatedly exposed to hostility that can take on threatening forms. When politicians then add hostile tones toward refugees and some think they can make their mark with pithy words in favor of deportations to Afghanistan, it becomes very difficult. And such tones came in recent months not only from the AfD.
CBA: What further political corrections do you hope for with regard to refugee policy??
Neher: We clearly call for a suspension of deportations to Afghanistan, at least until the German Foreign Office presents a new assessment of the security situation. We also advocate lifting the suspension of family reunification for refugees with subsidiary protection. We know from our experience that this would be important for integration to succeed. When someone is always burdened with worries about his family, it's hard to do that.
In the medium term, we need not only an integration law but also an immigration law. The asylum law cannot be a solution for the entire worldwide migration movements. An immigration law would also relieve the burden on asylum procedures.
CBA: There are many Muslims among the refugees. Even before they came to Germany, however, only a small proportion of the Muslims living here felt represented by the Islamic associations. What needs to change so that associations can help more with integration?
Neher: This is a challenge for the Islamic associations themselves; they must, for example, name binding contact persons. Church associations are happy to cooperate in the establishment of a Muslim welfare association, but the initiative must come from Muslim associations.
CBA: Regardless of migrants and high refugee numbers, representatives of social welfare associations complain of a further drifting apart of the rich and the poor. What help would low-income families need??
Neher: Very important would be a reform of the child allowance. The is still too rigid despite the changes made so far. It is intended for families who have such a low income that they would slip into Hartz IV benefits because of their children without the supplement. We would need more flexible borders. It cannot be that families lose the supplement because one parent earns a few euros more.
After the extension of the Kitas we must steer besides now with the quality. Helpful would be a quality law, which regulates, for example, the care key. At least we have made a step forward in this legislative period, there are now at least certain agreements that the federal states have agreed on.
CBA: Some parties are now in favor of abolishing the marriage tax credit and want to link a tax benefit to the existence of children. What is your position on this?
Neher: As a church association, the protection of marriage is of course important to us, but probably a further development of splitting with regard to children is needed. We have to take note that children also live in families whose parents are not in a classic marriage.
CBA: Now the Bundestag has also allowed marriage for homosexual partnerships. The Family Federation of Catholics pleads for the Catholic Church to also look for liturgical forms for these partnerships.
Neher: I believe that such considerations for the Catholic Church have been made much more difficult by the new law. Due to the clear separation of marriage and registered partnership, it might even have been easier for our church to find a liturgical form for homosexual couples. We have more difficulty with the now created opening of marriage, because for the Catholic Church there is only marriage between a man and a woman. The church cannot offer a liturgical form that treats marriage and homosexual partnerships equally.