Church must help combat extremism – Archbishop Treanor

Church must help combat extremism – Archbishop Treanor Archbishop Noel Treanor.

The Church has a role to play in combating the rise in support for extreme parties in Europe, according to the Vatican’s ambassador to the EU, Irishman Archbishop Noel Treanor.

Speaking at a conference in Berlin on Monday, he said the Church had a responsibility to counter extremism, populism and all forms of xenophobia.

Archbishop Treanor, former Bishop of Down and Connor, said populist movements “which make protest the centre-piece of their political message” and had no interest in the common good were currently finding fertile ground in many countries.

The Vatican diplomat, who is based in Brussels, made his remarks in a keynote address at the Church’s annual autumn reception in the German capital for representatives from the Church, politics, society and business.

Speaking in German, Dr Treanor referred to misinformation as a particular challenge as it led to a loss of trust in democracy.

Its foundations, he said, were eroded “if we can no longer agree on the facts our representatives have to base their decisions on”. Everyone had a responsibility to protect democracy. The “art of compromise” was an essential part of this.

The president of the German Bishops’ Conference, Bishop Georg Bätzing, said in his speech that the Church would continue to contribute to keeping society together. It did so with “its exhortations, reminders, and practical ideas of charity,” said the Bishop of Limburg.