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
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