German ex-bishop says praying with Taliban beats bombing

June 2, 2011

A former leader of Germany's Protestant community, Margot Käss­mann,
says she believes that a suggestion to pray with the Taliban by
candlelight is "a much better idea than bombing water tank lorries in
Kunduz."

The minister drew loud applause from some 5,000 attendees
present at a Bible study session and another 1,500 observers outside
watching on video screens at the Kirchentag, an ecumenical biennial
church festival held this year in early June in Dresden.

"We know
that in the end peace can only grow and be achieved by slow, often
painful and risky reconciliation processes in which the victims are
heard and the perpetrators admit their guilt," she said. Kässmann, the
first woman to lead the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD, an umbrella
group of Protestant churches), said that perhaps she is naive but added
that Jesus also was naive.

She also criticized NATO bombing in
Libya, noting that the military actions don't seem to be contributing to
a peaceful resolution of that country's political schism.

It's
not the first time that Kässmann  has criticized overseas military
actions by NATO troops. In her New Year sermon at the beginning of 2010,
delivered in the newly renovated Frauenkirche (Church of Our Lady) in
Dresden, she caused an uproar when she said "nothing is right" about the
deployment of German troops in Afghanistan.

She reiterated her
criticisms of the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan at the Kirchentag
event. "There is no just war, only a just peace," she said. "This
requires creativity, time and money."

Kässmann's sharp opposition to military action has ignited an ongoing public debate about Germany's role in Afghanistan.

Some
observers suggested that her public criticism led to her being treated
more harshly than usual by police during a drinking-while-driving
offense last year. She resigned as Lutheran bishop of Hanover as well as
head of the EKD after only four months in the latter post.  —ENInews