The third Ecumenical Kirchentag “schaut hin"began on Ascension Day with an ecumenical service streamed on the Internet and transmitted by ARD. Around 80 digital events will be broadcast from 13 to 16 May 2021. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg is represented for the first time. The 60-minute event " How does peacekeeping succeed in an uncertain world?“under the moderation of former Federal Minister Thomas de Maizière, a recording has already been made in Frankfurt/M. and will be available online from Saturday, 15 May. Stoltenberg is thus offered a publicity platform from which he can justify wars in Mali, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and aggressive maneuvers such as Defender 2021. Eight activists from the peace movement in Germany have protested in a statement, “that the supreme NATO representative may scatter his propaganda poison at a church convention and is supported by a former German “defense minister”, who bears responsibility for war operations.“By * * Ekkehard Lentz**.
In the meantime, the public relations department of the Kirchentag has responded to the statement. She commented on Facebook: “In addition to the NATO Secretary General, peace researchers and political scientists are also involved in the event. It is about an objective and critical exchange about global peacekeeping and the importance of military prevention and intervention. Thomas de Maizière moderates in his role as a highly competent, committed Christian and member of the presidium of the German Protestant Church Congress.”
According to information provided by the eight peace movements, the former “Federal Minister of Defence” is largely responsible for the 67-page report “NATO 2030”. The proposals for a new NATO agenda outlined in “NATO 2030”, in their view, present dangerous expansion plans that will increase tensions and the threat of war.
The statement on the appearance of Stoltenberg and de Maizière at the Kirchentag continues: “We are already living in a time of numerous wars and enormous rearmament. Wars and civil wars have unimaginably cruel consequences. Through the construct of “nuclear participation”, the federal government has committed itself to the nuclear war course of NATO and the USA. The use of and threat of nuclear weapons are contrary to international humanitarian law according to the legal opinion of the International Court of Justice of 1996. Any use of nuclear weapons would have devastating effects and can never be justified! That is why the churches should send a signal against wars, for peace and disarmament, instead of providing a platform for supporters of armament and militarists.”
Since the turn of Constantine (circa 313 AD), the great churches have continuously cooperated with the military to this day. You almost forgot that being a Christian:rejected in before (that of Jesus Christ to 313 A. D.), the use of military force strictly. The church should return to these roots.
In contrast to the organizers of the event, who in their invitation speak of NATO as a “community of values of free democratic states”, Ekkehard Lentz of the Bremen Peace Forum says that “NATO – from Yugoslavia to Libya – has pursued a disastrous and illegal policy. It also carried a devastating thinking into the minds of peace and security politicians that knows only one direction: armament.”
According to the peace activists, instead a “demilitarization of thinking” must begin: “We need cooperative neighborhoods instead of militarization and aggressive confrontation, we need disarmament instead of rearmament, and we need fair trade relations instead of exploitation of the global South.”
On the other hand, the initiative “Abolish military chaplaincy” announces a success of the peace movement: The Kirchentag 2021 takes place without Bundeswehr advertising. Unlike past church days, no military service will be celebrated in 2021, neither digitally nor in presence. No Bundeswehr music corps will play. The military chaplaincy will not operate any information booths, even virtually. The open letter addressed by 76 peace and human rights organisations to the Presidium of the Ecumenical Church Congress had successfully contributed to this. Veronika Drews-Galle, who is responsible for contacts with the Bundeswehr at the Kirchentag, writes: “Unfortunately, none of the numerous events brought in from the ecumenical area of military pastoral care has made it into the program.“Rainer Schmid, one of the initiators of the open letter: “We also demand military-free church days for the future. Because image advertising of the Bundeswehr has nothing to look for on church and Catholic days!”