The Catholic Church in Germany is being challenged to pay compensation for its use of forced labour during the Nazi era following the Evangelical Church's pledge of $A8.5 million on Wednesday.
    Churches and church-related social agencies used forced labourers during the war for such things as cemetery upkeep. Protestant Bishop Wolfgang Huber said the Berlin diocese ran a camp for about 100 people from 1943-45 to ease labour shortages.
    "This was participation in a forced and unjust system. We recognise this guilt," an Evangelical Church statement said.
    But Germany's Catholic church said that at this stage it does not plan to make a general contribution to the fund.
    Rudolf Hammerschmidt, spokesman for the German Bishops Conference, told a Berlin radio station that it was aware of only two Catholic church communities, both in Berlin, where forced labourers were employed at cemeteries, and that local church leaders would decide on an appropriate action.
    Germany's Catholic church has contributed about $5 million over the past 20 years to support Polish concentration camp victims, he added.
14 July 00

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