Easter is the highest feast for Christians. And then, of all things, should they forego the common worship service in the church? The request from the federal and state governments is met with incomprehension. Not just in the churches.
Federal Interior Minister Horst Seehofer has criticized the federal-state decision on Easter services. In it, religious communities are asked to hold meetings over Easter only virtually to protect against the coronavirus. “I was astonished that of all parties that have the C in their name, suggest that the churches refrain from worship, especially at Easter,” said Seehofer of the “Bild”.
Seehofer made it clear that it was not about a ban or the requirement to cancel church services at Easter. “I would like to point out that this is a request,” he emphasized. “My house did not make this suggestion either, although we are responsible for the religions. Instead, very early on in the pandemic, the Ministry of the Interior worked out hygiene concepts together with the churches, which have worked flawlessly to this day.”
Chancellor Angela Merkel and the prime ministers of the federal states agreed early Tuesday morning that there should be additional restrictions over Easter in order to break the third wave of corona. Public, private and economic life should largely rest from Maundy Thursday to Easter Monday. Religious groups were asked to hold meetings only virtually.
Church does not want to do without attendance at worship services
However, the Catholic and Protestant Churches have already made it clear that they do not want to forego attendance services without further ado. The chairman of the German Bishops’ Conference, Georg Bätzing, and the council chairman of the Evangelical Church in Germany, Heinrich Bedford-Strohm, said on Tuesday that the federal and state governments were surprised. Talks between the churches and the federal government were already under way on Tuesday at the working level.
In the talks it must be made clear that opening the church doors at Easter is something different than opening any shops, said the President of the Central Committee of German Catholics (ZdK), Thomas Sternberg, the editorial network Germany (Wednesday). “That is not carelessness, but can be done responsibly while observing strict rules.”
First federal state wants to pull out
Lower Saxony’s Prime Minister Stephan Weil (SPD) said on ZDF whether services should actually only take place virtually is currently still open. “We know that this is a special field. That is why we want to speak first before we decide.”
The Saxon Prime Minister Michael Kretschmer made it clear that his country will not forbid the churches to attend church services. In the ARD, the CDU politician said on Tuesday evening: “We shouldn’t pretend that as politics.” He has no doubt that “the churches, the religious communities, will find a wise and responsible way.”