One of Germany's leading Catholic figures says that the country simply can't offer refuge to everyone fleeing war and persecution, despite the church's international mandate to take in refugees.
“As a church we say that we need a reduction in the number of refugees,” Cardinal Reinhard Marx, chairman of the German bishops’ conference, told German regional newspaper Passauer Neue Presse on Saturday. Germany cannot be responsible for taking in "all of the world’s needy," he said.
Marx did, however, advocate for the humane treatment of those who do cross into Europe. "European borders cannot be a death wish," he said.
Pope Francis, meanwhile, has consistently urged Catholics to take in refugees and "view them as persons, seeing their faces and listening to their stories," he said in September.
The migrant and refugee influx disproportionately affected Germany in 2015, with the country taking in a staggering 1.1 million asylum seekers. Now, it's facing an uphill battle in helping people begin to integrate.
Marx said he is particularly troubled by the right-wing anti-immigrant party Alternative for Germany, which says border guards should be able to fire on refugees attempting to enter European countries. "The decision to shoot defenseless refugees at border crossings is unacceptable and inhumane," he added, referring to comments made by Frauke Petry, the leader of AfD.
Far-right groups have been gaining popularity as German Chancellor Angela Merkel's approval ratings have fallen to their lowest since 2011 due to refugee-related backlash, causing her administration to walk back its welcoming policy.
“If we have the highest number of refugees since World War II, that will have an effect on Germany,” Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said. “We find that number too high -- and we’re going to try to ensure that that figure in 2016 is not as high.”
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