German ecumenical visitor warns against European division in turbulent times

15 July 2016

Sam Atkins

The Bishop of Hanover, the Rt Revd Ralf Meister

The Bishop of Hanover, the Rt Revd Ralf Meister

THE Bishop of Hanover, the Rt Revd Ralf Meister, of the Evangelical Church in Germany, who co-chairs the Meissen Commission, told the Synod that they met in “turbulent times”.

While Germans respected the democratic decision to exit the EU, it would have an enormous impact on their country as well as Europe as a whole, he said. That said, it was frustrating that the debate in Germany focused on the economic consequences. “The European dream is a dream of humanity and justice, and not the question of whether the stock market is in London or in Frankfurt.”

Having recently commemorated the centenary of the Battle of the Somme, Bishop Meister reminded the Synod of the poetry of Wilfred Owen, and the call upon Christians to warn of the dangers of a divided Europe “split into gated national communities”.

It had taken the Church itself many centuries to move from “conflict to communion”, and it now owed it to the world to tell its story of learning tolerance, dialogue, and peace. The Bishop closed his address by quoting from one of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s letters from prison: “Come away from your anxious hesitations into the storm of events, carried by God’s command and your faith alone.”

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