“Christian almost always means 'good'”

Bishop Oster from Passau is in favor of the cross decree in Bavaria. At least it doesn't bother him – rather, Oster sees the political project as an opportunity for society as a whole; believer or not.

The Bishop of Passau, Stefan Oster, strikes a conciliatory tone in the debate about the cross. "I am happy about every cross I see in Bavaria's offices, authorities, state agencies," Oster wrote on his blog Tuesday. The political motives behind the decree are debatable, of course. However, he said he wanted to imply to Bavarian Prime Minister Markus Soder (CSU) "that he wants the good for the state and its residents".

Bishop Oster points to the interface between religion and culture in Germany: There are few things that have shaped European society as much as Christianity. "Christian" he understands in the broadest sense and for most people – believers or not – as "good".

You can't use the cross

For weeks, a decree ied by the Bavarian government under Soder (CSU) has been causing discussion, according to which, from 1. June a cross in the entrance area of all service buildings of the Free State should hang. Oster emphasized that he too understood the cross as a sign of remembrance of human dignity, love of neighbor and tolerance, as Soder had explained the decision – "but just also further and deeper: it also stands for the love of God, for the need of redemption of man, for the victory of Jesus over sin and death, for the open heaven, for the community of believers, for the togetherness of heaven and earth, of mankind and God, the Father of all people".

Where the cross is primarily instrumentalized in power politics, it ultimately turns against the instrumentalizer, Oster emphasizes, recalling the Crusades, religious and confessional wars. He does not say whether Soder's plan will fit in there.

The cross on the wall should remind

Whoever takes the cross seriously quickly notices "that it is also uncomfortable" and challenges humility, love of God and love of one's neighbor, the bishop continues. The Christian image of man, "man in his dignity and freedom, should be the foundation of all political action".

The cross can "remind us, especially in difficult times, that this should remain so," explains Oster. If politicians and public servants were guided by this attitude, it would "certainly be more of a blessing than a detriment to our country".

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