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Konrad Werner: Christian love from a real Christian

In his Christmas speech, German President Joachim Gauck used an African asylum seeker baby to illustrate his sermon about Christian love, but decided not to pour righteous Christian fury on the EU's refugee policy.

Image for Konrad Werner: Christian love from a real Christian
Photo from the 2012 Christmas address

Joachim Gauck gave his first presidential Christmas speech the other day. Despite coming from what is officially the most secular patch of our planet, Gauck is a Christian. In fact he used to be a pastor. I know what you’re thinking – of all those free-bonking, punk-loving East Germans we could have had as president, we got stuck with the only actual Christian. I mean, the odds were really on our side there. 

But then, it was somehow fitting to have a real Christian doing the presidential Christmas speech this year, for a change. Though he did forget about the Yugoslav Wars in the 1990s, he dutifully recycled some of his old sermon material for the occasion, mentioning the bit about the Baby J bedding down with the animals. But according to Gauck, there is more to Christmas than unhygienic birthing facilities. There is also something that “in the language of politics is called solidarity. In the language of faith: brotherly love. In the feelings of people: love.”

As an illustration of this Christian charity, Gauck began waxing lyrical about a little African baby that he had recently held in his arms in a home for asylum seekers, a touching image that preceded the more pragmatic line, “Of course, we’ll never be able to take in everyone who comes.” He went on to say that those persecuted in less fortunate countries should be “granted asylum with an open heart”.

What he conspicuously failed to do was point out that he had described the exact opposite of the EU’s current way of dealing with asylum seekers. His invocation of Christian love failed to turn into a rant against the EU, which mainly does its best to keep as many refugees and asylum seekers out as possible, and when it can, find “asylum” for people in the open arms of the security forces in the countries they came from.

Instead, Gauck waffled incoherently about the star leading the ancient peasants to the Baby J, saying that he wished us all our own personal star leading each one of us “to each other.” Which is just as logistically impossible as having a vehicle powered by reindeer that could move 46 times faster than a Lockheed SR-71. Then he wished us all a “blessed Christmas”.