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For a future founded on solidarity and justice - Foreword

This statement of the Council of the Evangelical Church in Germany and the German Bishops' Conference on the economic and social situation in Germany comes at a time in which courageous and farsighted action is greatly in demand. Unemployment in Germany is at an all-time high in the post-war period. The welfare state is stretched to the hilt. Traditional social culture is undergoing great change due to industrialisation and urbanisation, and has at some points disintegrated. Material desires and selfishness are increasing and threatening solidarity and social cohesion.

Guided and encouraged by the Christian understanding of the human being, the biblical message and Christian social ethics, the churches want to make their contribution to the necessary reorientation of society and renewal of the Social Market Economy. It is their concern to facilitate a common understanding of the foundations and perspectives of a public and social order that is humane, free, fair and based on solidarity. This should lead to a common effort being made to found the future on solidarity and justice. The churches do not see it as their task to give detailed political or economic recommendations. Nor is it their job to pronounce or arbitrate on the political controversy of the moment. The chief task and competence of the churches is to advocate that which serves the cause of more social equality and the common good.

This statement is divided into six chapters. Chapter 1 assesses the consultation process that led up to it. Chapters 2 to 5 are based on the structural principle of "see - judge - act". The final chapter is intended to demonstrate that the joint statement also involves commitment for the churches.

Chapters 2 to 5 differ in character. Chapters 3 and 4 point to the principles and criteria that are indispensable preconditions for a cohesive and sustainable social and economic order. This basic consensus is the churches' chief concern. They hope it will meet with broad support. The practical examples and pointers in chapters 2 and 5, by contrast, are a contribution to reaching public agreement on problems and possible solutions.

The six chapters are preceded by a summary setting out the main ideas. This is not intended to replace the full text. It may, however, make the latter easier to understand and give a picture of its basic concerns.

The EKD Council and the German Bishops' Conference have prepared this statement following a broad-based consultation process. Other churches participated in the process and numerous reactions were received from many sources. Our heartfelt thanks go to all who have assisted in some way or another.

Hannover/Bonn, 22 February 1997

Bishop Dr. Klaus Engelhardt
Chairman of the Council of the Evangelical Church in Germany

Bishop Dr. Karl Lehmann
Chairman of the German Bishops' Conference


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