“Church is on the side of the afflicted”

Environmental destruction, climate change, human rights violations – Freiburg Archbishop Stephan Burger calls for more commitment to international development cooperation. The Misereor Lenten Campaign wants to make a contribution to this.

CBA: Archbishop, you have now visited projects in Brazil for the Misereor Lenten Action 2016. What do the church and church development aid stand for there??

Archbishop Burger: The Church wants to help the people of the Amazon in their distress to be able to exercise their rights. In order to realize large dam projects, the Brazilian government and international corporations are trying to expropriate and relocate countless fishermen and farmers. The church wants to be on the side of those who are in distress, who fear for their land and thus for their livelihood. Together with Brazilian partners, Misereor organizes legal aid and advises them. People should have the feeling that they are not left alone in this existential emergency situation.

CBA: What can the Lenten campaign, in which Misereor solicits donations in the weeks before Easter, achieve here in Germany?

Burger: The Lenten campaign wants to raise awareness of the problems that exist, for example in Brazil, but also in many other regions, when those politically responsible do not respect human rights. It's all about making the public. And of course for financial support, without which aid projects are not possible.

CBA: Would be more commitment of Christians for development cooperation necessary?

Burger: I would very much appreciate that. And I would like to take this up in my pastoral letter for Lent. We must not lose sight of global development. Many of our problems – be they climate or refugee ies – are linked to global development. Raising awareness here is a concern of mine.

CBA: Does this fit in with the "Year of Action for Mercy" that Pope Francis has proclaimed for 2016?

Burger: Yes, because mercy means not losing sight of the disadvantaged. Pope's initiative also calls for looking beyond one's own nose. We must always consider what consequences our behavior has for the poor of the world.

CBA: What does Lent mean to you personally?

Burger: For me, it is important in this special time to examine my everyday life for some habits that have crept in, and then to break these habits. This also includes consciously doing without one thing or another, such as a good glass of wine.

The interview was conducted by Volker Hasenauer.

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