The Bishop of Münster, Felix Genn, has banned Father Paul Spätling from preaching in a Catholic church after Spätling addressed a PEGIDA rally in Duisburg earlier this week. The Bishop said he “cannot and will not tolerate” such talk.
Invoking Canon 764 of Catholic Canon Law, the Bishop has stripped the 67-year-old priest of his preaching authority, forbidding him from speaking inside or outside of houses of worship. The PEGIDA movement—Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West—was founded in Dresden in October 2014.
In his address to the PEGIDA group, Father Spätling said that Europe has been fighting against Islam for 1400 years, and challenged Chancellor Angela Merkel’s statement that Islam belongs to Germany. “It is unbelievable that Ms. Merkel has said that Islam is part of Germany,” he said. Spätling also told protesters, “It’s important to show that Catholics are on your side.”
In his speech, Father Spätling recalled the religious wars in the Middle Ages and referred to Europe’s historical struggle against “the Turks.” He marched at the head of PEGIDA supporters through the city, carrying an icon.
“We distance ourselves emphatically from his completely distorted picture of the past and present,” said Stephan Kronenburg, spokesman for the Diocese of Münster. “With his statements he stirs up animosity toward Islam, which we consider to be dangerous,” he said in a statement. The diocese also criticized the fact that Father Spätling came to the rally dressed as a Catholic priest. In doing so, he was abusing his authority as pastor and priest by laying foundations for “right-wing ideologies, xenophobia and a conflict of religions that have no place in the Catholic Church,” the statement said.
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