Category : Germany

(Church Times) C of E Pensions Board joins fight to force VW to open its books on climate lobbying

The Church of England Pensions Board has joined five other pension funds to bring legal action against Volkswagen AG (VW), after it refused repeated attempts to reveal crucial information on its corporate climate-lobbying activities.

The funds, four Swedish and one Danish in addition to the C of E board, are all part of the Institutional Investment Group on Climate Change (IIGCC) and the Climate Action’s 100+ initiative. These have asked the company repeatedly to clarify its lobbying position. VW discloses trade association memberships, but does not disclose how the goals of these associations align with its own climate goals.

The boards wanted to table an agenda item at VW’s AGM, seeking publication of a report setting out how the company’s lobbying of policy-makers matched its stated ambition to support the Paris Agreement goals by becoming a net-zero company. VW refused to table the item.

The investors say that they tried over several years to get information before tabling the amendment. The case, supported by the legal charity ClientEarth, will test whether VW has the right to refuse the agenda item.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Climate Change, Weather, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Germany, Pensions, Science & Technology, Stock Market

Church of England Pensions Board begins legal proceedings against German car manufacturer VW

The Church of England Pensions Board, together with Swedish public pension funds AP7, AP2, AP3, AP4 and Danish AkademikerPension, has filed a case against Volkswagen AG, after it refused repeated attempts to reveal crucial information on its corporate climate lobbying activities.

This is the first time investors have started European litigation on a climate-related matter. The case was filed this week.

The case will test whether VW has the right to refuse to include an item on the company AGM agenda proposed by VW’s shareholders at the 2023 AGM having previously refused investors shareholder resolutions. The group of investors are represented by German law firm Hausfeld Rechtsanwälte LLP and supported by legal charity ClientEarth.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), Corporations/Corporate Life, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Germany, Religion & Culture, Stock Market

(Telegraph) Rhine close to running dry in German energy nightmare

Germany’s Rhine river will become impassable for barges carrying coal, oil and gas later this week, in a devastating blow to factories upriver.

Levels at Kaub, a key point along the waterway west of Frankfurt, are predicted to fall to below 40cm on Friday, according to the German Federal Waterways and Shipping Administration.

At that chokepoint, the river becomes effectively impassable for many barges, which use the Rhine to move a range of goods including coal, oil and gas.

Water levels will then fall further to 37cm on Saturday, officials warned.

The river runs from Switzerland through France and Germany to the Netherlands, where it joins the North Sea.

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Posted in Climate Change, Weather, Ecology, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, Germany, Science & Technology

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saint Maria Skobtsova

O Creator and Giver of Life, who didst crown thy martyr Maria Skobtsova with glory and didst give her as an example of service to the suffering and poor even unto death: Teach us to love Christ in our neighbors, and thereby battle injustice and evil with the light of the Resurrection; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who livest and reignest with thee and the Holy Ghost, one God in glory everlasting. Amen.

Posted in Church History, Death / Burial / Funerals, France, Germany, Russia, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer for the (Provisional) Feast Day of Argula von Grumbach

Almighty God, who didst give to thy servant Argula von Grumbach a spirit of wisdom and power to love thy Word and to boldly draw others unto its truth: Pour out that same spirit upon us, so that we, knowing and loving thy Holy Word, may be unashamed of Christ and may not sin against the Holy Spirit that is within us, Amen.

Posted in Church History, Germany, Spirituality/Prayer

(AP) Germany: Over 2,700 antisemitic incidents reported in 2021

A group tracking antisemitism in Germany said Tuesday it documented more than 2,700 incidents in the country last year, including 63 attacks and six cases of extreme violence.

In a report, the Department for Research and Information on Anti-Semitism, or RIAS, said the coronavirus pandemic with its anti-Jewish conspiracy narratives and the Middle East conflict with antisemitic criticism of Israel were the main drivers of the 2,738 incidents it documented.

The incidents include both criminal and non-criminal incidents, the group said.

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Posted in Germany, Judaism, Religion & Culture

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Gracious God, the Beyond in the midst of our life, who gavest grace to thy servant Dietrich Bonhoeffer to know and teach the truth as it is in Jesus Christ, and to bear the cost of following him: Grant that we, strengthened by his teaching and example, may receive thy word and embrace its call with an undivided heart; through Jesus Christ our Savior, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Posted in Church History, Germany, Spirituality/Prayer

(NYT front page) The End of the (Pipe)line? Germany Scrambles to Wean Itself Off Russian Gas

Past a nudist beach and a sleepy marina, a gigantic mesh of metallic pipes rises from the pine forest behind the tiny village of Lubmin on Germany’s Baltic coast.

If few people have heard of Lubmin, from Berlin to Washington almost everyone seems to know the name of the two gas pipelines arriving here directly from Russia: Nord Stream 1, which carries almost 60 million cubic meters of natural gas per year to keep Europe’s biggest economy humming. And Nord Stream 2, built to increase that flow but abruptly shuttered in the run-up to Russia’s attack on Ukraine.

The pair of pipelines has become a twin symbol of Germany’s dangerous dependence on Russian gas — and the country’s belated and frenzied effort to wean itself off it — with calls growing for the European Union to hit Moscow with tougher sanctions as atrocities come to light in Ukraine.

On Tuesday, the European Commission, the E.U.’s executive branch, proposed banning imports of Russian coal and soon, possibly, its oil. But Russian gas — far more critical to Germany and much of the rest of Europe — was off the table. At least for now.

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Posted in Energy, Natural Resources, Foreign Relations, Germany, Military / Armed Forces, Politics in General, Russia, Ukraine

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Katharina Von Bora

Almighty God, who didst call thy servant Katharina von Bora from a cloister to work for the reform of thy church, grant that all of us may go wherever thou dost call, and serve however thou dost will, for thy honor and glory and for the welfare of thy whole church. All this we ask through Jesus Christ, our only mediator and advocate. Amen.

Posted in Church History, Germany, Spirituality/Prayer

(BBC) Europe in the Midst of a struggle with a Fourth Covid19 Wave

Germany is in the grip of a “dramatic” fourth Covid wave, Chancellor Angela Merkel has said on the eve of a crisis meeting with regional leaders.

Daily infections hit a new German record of 52,826 on Wednesday as European governments responded to a surge on much of the continent.

Belgium announced a series of measures in an attempt to avoid a lockdown.

“All the alarm signals are red,” said Prime Minister Alexander De Croo, as he told people to limit personal contact.

“Europe’s map is quickly going red, and we are the same.”

Children in Belgium will have to wear masks from the age of 10, rather than the current age of 12. Working from home will become compulsory from Saturday for four days a week. Passes known as Covid Safe Tickets will be required in theatres, cinemas and museums.

Posted in Belgium, Europe, Germany, Health & Medicine, Politics in General

(Guardian) German election on knife edge as months of coalition wrangling loom

Germany is braced to enter a new “Dutch-style” political era after federal elections on Sunday, as a knife-edge vote points to months of complicated coalition wrangling.

Outgoing chancellor Angela Merkel joined the campaign trail at a rally in the western city of Aachen on Friday night in an attempt to help her designated successor from the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), Armin Laschet, close the gap on the centre-left Social Democratic party (SPD).

“We need a stable government,” Laschet told the crowd at the event in his home city. “If you want stability for Germany, the CDU-CSU [Christian Social Union] have to be in first place tomorrow.”

“We will turn this game around,” vowed the conservative Bavarian state premier, Markus Söder, at the event in the southern German state capital. Germany, he warned, must not become an “experimental site for leftwing tomfoolery”.

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Posted in Germany, Politics in General

(FT) Germany’s election: a new era of uncertain coalition politics

With just three days till polling day, Germany’s election is wide open. Rarely has such a crucial democratic exercise been tinged by so much uncertainty. Never before have Germans faced such a broad spectrum of possible electoral outcomes.

Angela Merkel is quitting the political battlefield and the army of voters the chancellor once commanded is now up for grabs. Her departure, after 16 years in power, has disrupted a system that once seemed the model of stability.

“For so many people the primary loyalty was to Merkel — and now she’s going,” says Andrea Römmele, professor of communication in politics at the Hertie School in Berlin. As a result, “we have an extremely high volatility among voters — more than 50 per cent of them are open in all directions.”

Merkel’s party, the Christian Democratic Union, is floundering, unsure about what to do and where to go next. Its rivals, the Social Democrats, are on a roll, with a commanding lead in the polls. But the SPD, like the CDU and its Bavarian sister party the Christian Social Union, faces an uncertain future. Germany’s old model of two dominant big-tent parties is being replaced by something much more fragmented.

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Posted in Europe, Germany, Politics in General

A Prayer for the (Provisional) Feast Day of Argula von Grumbach

Almighty God, who didst give to thy servant Argula von Grumbach a spirit of wisdom and power to love thy Word and to boldly draw others unto its truth: Pour out that same spirit upon us, so that we, knowing and loving thy Holy Word, may be unashamed of Christ and may not sin against the Holy Spirit that is within us, Amen.

Posted in Church History, Germany, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saint Boniface

Almighty God, who didst call thy faithful servant Boniface to be a witness and martyr in the lands of Germany and Friesland, and by his labor and suffering didst raise up a people for thine own possession: Pour forth thy Holy Spirit upon thy Church in every land, that by the service and sacrifice of many thy holy Name may be glorified and thy kingdom enlarged; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the same Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Posted in Church History, Germany, Spirituality/Prayer

(DW) Antisemitism in Germany: ‘As Muslims, we must tackle this’

Eren Guvercin, the founder of the Muslim Alhambra Society in Germany, which promotes international understanding, isn’t surprised by the video. Antisemitism among Muslims in Germany becomes visible occasionally, and most commonly when violence in the Middle East escalates. “But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist in quieter times as well,” he said.

Antisemitism is a central ideological component for a number of extremist Islamist organizations, Guvercin explained, and these also try to promote it in more moderate Muslim communities. “This is something we have to deal with as Muslims first and foremost. But often this fails because the problem cannot even be named.”

Clearly antisemitic slogans were shouted in some cases, conceded Bulent Ucar, a professor of Islamic theology at Osnabrück University. “There are good arguments against Israel’s policy of occupation and dispossession, which is against international law,” he told DW. “But there are also polarizing actors, who are loading this political dispute in the Middle East with antisemitism, and then trying to transfer it to Europe. This is not at all acceptable. There is no justification for Jews in Germany to be threatened and harassed. That’s inexcusable and a total no-go.”

Orkide Ezgimen, who heads the Discover Diversity project at the Kreuzberg Initiative against antisemitism in Berlin, agrees that different motivations were on display at the demonstrations. There was criticism of Israel’s actions against the Palestinians but also a lot of potential for aggressive behavior, some of which include antisemitic sentiments. “These reference German history, such as the Holocaust,” she said. “That is clearly antisemitic. Of course, in a democracy one has the right to demonstrate against the policies of another country — but not in all forms. In the case of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, you have to distinguish very clearly between legitimate criticism and antisemitism.”

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Posted in Germany, Judaism, Psychology, Religion & Culture, The Palestinian/Israeli Struggle

A Prayer for the (provisional) Feast Day of Johann Arndt and Jakob Böhme

Holy God, who dwellest with them that are of a contrite and humble spirit; Revive our spirits; purify us from deceitful lusts; and cloth us in righteousness and true holiness; though Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, one God now and for ever. Amen.

Posted in Church History, Germany, Spirituality/Prayer

(Chr History) Nikolaus von Zinzendorf–“There can be no Christianity without community”

Nearly two centuries after Luther posted his 95 Theses, Protestantism had lost some of its soul. Institutions and dogma had, in many people’s minds, choked the life out of the Reformation.

Lutheran minister P.J. Spener hoped to revive the church by promoting the “practice of piety,” emphasizing prayer and Bible reading over dogma. It worked. Pietism spread quickly, reinvigorating Protestants throughout Europe””including underground Protestants in Moravia and Bohemia (modern Czechoslovakia)

The Catholic church cracked down on the dissidents, and many were forced to flee to Protestant areas of neighboring Germany. One group of families fled north to Saxony, where they settled on the lands belonging to a rich young ruler, Count Nikolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf.

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Posted in Church History, Ecclesiology, Germany, Theology

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Nicolaus von Zinzendorf

God of life made new in Christ, who dost call thy Church to keep on rising from the dead: We remember before thee the bold witness of thy servant Nicolaus von Zinzendorf, through whom thy Spirit moved to draw many in Europe and the American colonies to faith and conversion of life; and we pray that we, like him, may rejoice to sing thy praise, live thy love and rest secure in the safekeeping of the Lord; who livest and reignest with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Posted in Church History, Germany, Spirituality/Prayer

The 100th Anniversary of John Stott’s Birth (IV)–His Address to the World Congress on Evangelism in 1966

All this implies a recognition that Jesus of Nazareth was no mere Jewish teacher who founded a Jewish sect, but rather the Saviour of the world who summons all nations of the world to His allegiance.

The Church, in other words, is fundamentally a missionary society, commissioned and committed to proclaim the Gospel of salvation to the whole world. Insofar as any inhabitants of the globe have not heard the Gospel, the Church should have a heavy conscience. Christ has sent us to herald forgiveness to all the nations, but we have not done so. role have failed to ‘fulfill His final commission. We have been disobedient to our Lord.

There is still time to make amends, however. As the world population explodes, the Church’s task might seem to be getting harder and the goal of world evangelization more remote. But as modern means of mass communication increase, and as the Church humbly seeks fresh spiritual power, the task once again appears possible. This spiritual power is, in fact, the fifth and last aspect of the Lord’s commission which Luke mentions. We are to proclaim the forgiveness of sins on the ground of Christ’s name and on condition of repentance to all the nations.

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Posted in Church History, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Germany, Missions, Theology: Evangelism & Mission

(Bloomberg) Germany Orders Electric Air Taxis to Carry Emergency Doctors

Germany’s biggest air-ambulance operator has ordered two electric air taxis to evaluate their potential in a pioneering role speeding doctors to patients.

ADAC Luftrettung, part of the country’s leading motoring association, will begin testing the 18-rotor Volocopter GmbH aircraft from 2023 after the simulation of 26,000 emergency responses in two cities indicated that it could fulfill a rapid-transport role currently performed by a costlier helicopter fleet.

The joint announcement Tuesday provides further evidence of the commercial potential of vertical takeoff air taxis, coming less than a week after Singapore said it plans to launch the world’s first such service.

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Posted in Germany, Science & Technology, Travel

FT People of the Year: BioNTech’s Ugur Sahin and Ozlem Tureci

For Dr Sahin and Dr Tureci — whose insistence that the technology they have helped develop could herald a medical revolution was once dismissed as “science fiction” — the successful coronavirus vaccine has provided as much vindication as relief.

The couple, who between them have authored hundreds of academic papers, filed hundreds of patents, founded two non-profit organisations and two billion-euro businesses, faced scepticism from much of the medical establishment right up until this year.

The groundwork that led to their breakthrough was laid over several decades, in which the two softly-spoken researchers were forced to move out of the comfort zone of their labs and to become entrepreneurs, educators and evangelists.

After meeting as trainee doctors on a blood cancer ward in south-west Germany in the early 1990s, the couple discovered that they shared similar backgrounds — both sets of parents had migrated from Turkey in search of economic opportunity. They also realised that their core interest was not in purely academic science, but in applied science.

“First and foremost, we are physicians,” says Dr Tureci, who ran the duo’s first company, Ganymed, and is chief medical officer at BioNTech.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Corporations/Corporate Life, Germany, Globalization, Health & Medicine, Science & Technology, Turkey

Sunday [London] Times–German spy chief Gerhard Schindler: China is poised to dominate the world

China is close to “world domination” and Europe must wake up to the danger, a former head of Germany’s foreign intelligence agency has told The Times.

Gerhard Schindler, who led the Federal Intelligence Service (BND) from 2011 to 2016, said Germany needed to curb its “strategic dependence” on Beijing and ban Huawei from its 5G mobile phone network.

He also warned that Angela Merkel’s liberal approach to the 2015 migrant crisis had left Germany with a “large reservoir” of young Muslim men susceptible to violence and jihadist ideology, and that the true scale of the danger was only now becoming clear.

In his new book Wer hat Angst vorm BND? (Who’s Afraid of the BND?), Mr Schindler, 68, argues that Germany has hobbled its spy agencies with unnecessary red tape and neglected some of the most serious threats to its security.

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Posted in China, Europe, Germany, Globalization

(EF) Membership of German free evangelical denominations remains stable while Protestant and Catholic churches suffer huge losses

The latest statistics on members of free evangelical churches in Germany show that independent evangelical groups are stable. This contrasts with the heavy losses of the Protestant and Roman Catholic churches.

The Union of Baptist Free Evangelical Churches (BEFG) of Germany reported 80,195 members at the end of the year 2019, 961 less than the year before.

This loss of 1% in its membership is attributed to the fall of baptisms (1,610, almost half than in 2017). Another reason for this slight fall of membership, the Baptist annual report says, has to do with the fact that members who move from one church to another, do not often ask for membership in the new congregation.

Meanwhile, the Union of Pentecostal Free Churches (BFP), reported 62,872 members in 2019, a growth of over 10% if compared to the year 2017.

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Posted in Germany, Religion & Culture

(DW) Religion is still relevant in Germany even as churches lose members

Germany’s two major Christian churches both recorded a large drop in membership last year. This is a trend that has persisted for a long time, though in 2019, for a change, more Catholics left the church than Protestants. Overall,more than 540,000 Christians turned their back on organized religion. Not since the early 1990s have membership numbers fallen so drastically.

Just over half of all people living in Germany — 43.3 million people, to be exact — are still members of either the Protestant or Catholic church. But that’s a decline of about 5 million compared to 10 years ago. Church membership is also falling because the number of church members dying far surpasses the number of baptisms.

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Posted in Germany, Religion & Culture

(DW) Germans go back to worship–but no singing allowed

Many German churches reopened on Sunday morning after most remained closed for more than a month in an effort to curb the spread of coronavirus.

Worshippers will have to wear masks, respect social distancing, and no singing will be allowed amid fears that it spreads the virus more easily.

Cologne Cathedral, Europe’s largest church and Germany’s most visited landmark, has planned a special ceremony for friends of the church. Workers, choir members, lay readers and altar boys were invited to a ceremony of only 122 people in the enormous medieval cathedral which normally received 20,000 visitors a day.

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Posted in Germany, Health & Medicine, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

(1st Things) Wesley Smith–Death On Demand Comes To Germany

…even I never expected full-bore death on demand to arrive in the West for another decade. I was too optimistic. A recent ruling from Germany’s highest court has cast right-to-die incrementalism aside and conjured a fundamental right both to commit suicide and to receive assistance in doing it. Moreover, the decision has explicitly rejected limiting the right to people diagnosed with illnesses or disabilities. As a matter of protecting “the right of personality,” the court decreed that “self-determined death” is a virtually unlimited fundamental liberty that the government must guarantee to protect “autonomy.” In other words, the German people now have the right to kill themselves at any time and for any reason. From the decision (published English version, my emphasis):

The right to a self-determined death is not limited to situations defined by external causes like serious or incurable illnesses, nor does it only apply in certain stages of life or illness. Rather, this right is guaranteed in all stages of a person’s existence. . . . The individual’s decision to end their own life, based on how they personally define quality of life and a meaningful existence, eludes any evaluation on the basis of general values, religious dogmas, societal norms for dealing with life and death, or consideration of objective rationality. It is thus not incumbent upon the individual to further explain or justify their decision; rather their decision must, in principle, be respected by state and society as an act of self-determination.

The court wasn’t done. The right to suicide also includes a right to assist suicide:

The right to take one’s own life also encompasses the freedom to seek and, if offered, utilize assistance provided by third parties for this purpose. . . . Therefore, the constitutional guarantee of the right to suicide corresponds to equally far-reaching constitutional protection extended to the acts carried out by persons rendering suicide assistance.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Germany, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Theology

Dietrich Bonhoeffer for Ash Wednesday

“Confess your faults one to another” (Jas. 5:16). He who is alone with his sin is utterly alone. It may be that Christians, notwithstanding corporate worship, common prayer, and all their fellowship in service, may still be left to their loneliness. The final break-through to fellowship does not occur, because, though they have fellowship with one another as believers and devout people, they do not have fellowship as the undevout, as sinners. This pious fellowship permits no one to be a sinner. So everybody must conceal his sin from himself and the fellowship. We dare not be sinners. Many Christians are unthinkably horrified when a real sinner is suddenly discovered among the righteous. so we remain alone with our sin, living in lies and hypocrisy. The fact is that we are sinners!

But it is the grace of the Gospel, which is so hard for the pious to understand, that it confronts us with the truth and says: You are a sinner, a great, desperate sinner; now come as the sinner that you are, to God who loves you. He wants you as you are; He does not want anything from you, a sacrifice, a work; He wants you alone. “My son, give me thine heart” (Prov. 23:26). God has come to you to save the sinner. Be glad! This message is liberation through truth. You can hide nothing from God. The mask you wear before men will do you no good before Him. He wants to see you as you are, He wants to be gracious to you. You do not have to on lying to yourself and your brothers, as if you were without sin; you can dare to be a sinner. Thank God for that; He loves the sinner but He hates sin.

–Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

Posted in Church History, Germany, Theology

Today in History

Posted in Germany, History

(ABC Nightline) Important but difficult Viewing– The Children of Auschwitz: Survivors Return 75 years after Liberation

Take the time to watch it all.

Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, Germany, History, Judaism, Military / Armed Forces, Poland, Religion & Culture, Violence

(BBC) You owe it to yourself to listen and watch this piece about Auschwitz survivor Max Eisen

Posted in Canada, Germany, History, Judaism, Poland, Religion & Culture, Violence