Catholic paper questions German council’s influence


BERLIN (JTA) — A German Catholic publication suggested that Jewish leaders attempted to limit freedom of thought at a Munich university.

In an interview published in Tuesday’s Tagespost, a Wurzburg-based newspaper, an editor asked Catholic theologian Bertram Stubenrauch of the Ludwig-Maximilian University in Munich whether he felt "pressured by the Central Council of Jews in Germany" to cancel a planned symposium on Dec. 10 that would have featured high-level representatives of Iran’s extreme Islamic sect.

Protests against the symposium were lodged by, among others, the Central Council board and the German branches of the International Society for Human Rights and Christian Solidarity International.

Regina Einig asked Stubenrauch if he "felt threatened" and wondered whether "academic freedom in this country would not be limited, if a Jewish council can prevent Catholic professors from holding a symposium."

Stubenrauch, the university’s chair of the department for dogmatics and ecumenical theology, responded that he had not felt any "concrete threats" but rather that he had respected the urgent wish from "Jewish fellow citizens" and canceled the event in consultation with the university directors.

He added that the influence of a Jewish board on the Catholic faculty "is in fact a problem that must be discussed. And here, our entire society is undergoing a test: Does our democratic, constitutional state have room for free exchange of thought in its academic institutions? It must, and we must continue to build on this, to the benefit of all those groups that wish to live peacefully in Germany. Some people think this means we are naive."

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