Chancellor Olaf Schultz on Catholic Day: Arms change us

Olaf Schultz, Catholic Day and Ukraine
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“It has to be that way, but it changes us”

A turning point also on the Catholic day: Chancellor Olaf Schultz came to Stuttgart and justifies the handover of weapons and the planned rearmament. This is necessary, Schultz said, but it “changes us.”

“Putin must not get away with his ridiculous war” – hence the sanctions, and hence the supply of arms.
Chancellor Olaf Schultz is here and with him the talk of the war in Ukraine finally arrived on Catholic Stuttgart Day. Certainly, Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier previously called on Vladimir Putin to immediately end his war of aggression at the opening in the palace gardens. Many clothes were hung in the colors of Ukraine. And of course, these signs are also important. But they often help those who show more solidarity than those who have to fight and suffer in this war.

“Times of change” – this is a big word that Olaf Schultz often speaks on his lips. It’s still an “appropriate term,” he says now in Stuttgart, because we felt this war was not only against Ukraine, but also against our values. This raises moral questions: “Can violence be fought with violence? Or is peace only achieved without weapons? – as was the motto of the peace movement? All different opinions must be treated with respect; but the German chancellor said: “We decided to support the victims of war.” And he remembers the last words Made by military bishop Franz Josef Overbeck, which states that there can be no unconditional renunciation of violence.

According to Schulze, society will be challenged if the agreement not to use force to move boundaries is terminated. That’s why we decided to upgrade. “It has to be that way, but it changes us,” the chancellor said. But is this really necessary? The audience replies “yes”, because one must clearly show “that large-scale attacks on NATO territory will not succeed.”

The appearance of the current chancellor in Stuttgart, which was well received, is also evidence of the importance of the Catholic day. Angela Merkel, a professed Protestant, was present almost every time. Olaf Schultz, a recognized non-sectarian, continues this tradition now.

But there are also opinions in Stuttgart that they have made fewer efforts to reach consensus. Andrij Waskowicz, for example, did not utter his words. In Stuttgart, a former Ukrainian director of Caritas accused Putin of committing genocide against the population as well as trying to wipe out an entire country. Should we make territorial concessions to the aggressor? Then what happens to the people who live there? For him there is no doubt that in the end a solution can only be found with weapons. “Russia must be repelled with weapons systems capable of doing this,” he said. And: “The number of victims does not decrease with surrender.”


    Participants in the peace process

Participants in the peace march “Solidarity with the people of Ukraine” on Catholic Day in Stuttgart.
Photo: dpa/marijan morad

On Catholic Day, many people may not share Andrej Waskovic’s uncompromising stance. But no one wants to contradict it either. He is not correct in his estimation that the violence in Ukraine is essentially a “forgotten war” that has existed since the invasion of Crimea in 2014 and that has paralyzed the entire community in the country ever since.

But Waskowicz also noted that this war was being waged not only with weapons, but also “with gas pipelines, global food insecurity and migration”. According to him, the large number of refugees should “exhaust” the communities that are on the side of Ukraine. Eckart von Hirschhausen said in his interpretation of the Bible: “Hunger has become an instrument of war.” The doctor and comedian noted that this was a crime against humanity, and then, in confusion, asked who could actually bring Putin to justice.

Then the debate over the war in Ukraine came to a first conclusion in Stuttgart exactly where the Catholic day began on Wednesday: namely in the castle garden, this time with a peace gathering organized in a short time with 1,000 good participants. Also attending is the Apostolic Bishop of the Ukrainian Catholic Bishop Bohdan Dzyurach. On stage, a Ukrainian woman who recently escaped from Bucha with her young daughter recounts her suffering and the bodies in the streets and pleads with Russian soldiers not to shoot them in the back as they try to escape. It is clear that Ermi Stetter-Carp, Chairman of the Central Committee of German Catholics, is affected by this fate. She says the ethics of peace must be re-examined. Nevertheless, Christians must continue to place their faith in the work of civil peace. With all this, the question remains: “Can we, with Russia, allow peace again, a peace that is more than the mere absence of war?”

The fifth commandment makes this clear to Christians: You shall not kill. Stetter-Karp did not want to find a quick answer to this in a conversation with the Federal Chancellor. I left it in one word, which many would agree with: It was a deep “difference.”

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