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German Church rejects Govt offer of power to grant refugees asylum

The Catholic and Lutheran Churches in Germany have rejected the government's suggestion that churches and other humanitarian organisations would in future be allowed to grant refugees asylum for a limited period provided they shouldered the expense.

The Tablet reports that the draft of a new immigration law was presented by the German minister of the interior, Otto Schilly, earlier this month.

The spokesman of the German Catholic bishops' conference, Fr Hans Langendörfer SJ, told the Cologne news agency KNA that society had a duty to protect those who were threatened with persecution. A well-ordered admission procedure, which took humanitarian aspects into consideration, was the State's responsibility and could not be delegated. Church asylum was 'only an emergency measure in individual cases'.

In Germany, 335 asylum seekers are being sheltered in 68 Protestant and Catholic parishes. The majority are Kurds who have fled from Turkey. The fact that they have been given church asylum does not mean that they are completely safe. Compulsory removals are not infrequent.