“People of god must stand with those who mourn and are horrified”

In Frankfurt, a mother and her eight-year-old son were pushed in front of an incoming train. The boy died in the railroad bed. How to cope with horror and grief? Frankfurt's city dean talks about the church's help.

Interviewer: A man pushed an eight-year-old boy and his mother into the railroad bed completely unexpectedly. While the mother was able to save herself, the son was run over by the incoming ICE and died at the scene of the accident. The 40-year-old suspect is a man from Eritrea and apparently did not know his victims. Nothing is known about the motives. What did you think when you heard about the attack?

Johannes zu Eltz (city dean of Frankfurt): The whole city, the summery Frankfurt is frozen, as I have not experienced it yet. Stiff with shock, disgust and pity, especially for the mother who has seen her child die next to her.

Interviewer: How does the local Catholic Church react?

zu Eltz: First of all, we must regain our composure, we do not know the reasons and we are faced with a dark mystery. We will hold an ecumenical memorial of mourning this Tuesday evening in the grounds of Central Station. In the process, hopefully many gather.

Interviewer: The suspected perpetrator is a man from Eritrea. This is grist to the mill of right-wing agitators. How can we prevent such acts from being misused to create a mood against migrants??

zu Eltz: This is an additional problem that scares me. The first thing I did was to call the priest of the Catholic-Eritrean parish and the head of the parish and invite him to the funeral service at the train station. If they are afraid, I will hold their hand and stand with them. It is imperative that we ensure that this act does not lead to a general revulsion against migrants.

Interviewer: Many wonder why a person would commit such an act, but also how God can allow a child to be killed in such a horrific way.

zu Eltz: No one is waiting for the declaration on theodicy now. I think people are waiting for us not to pull out and stand there, if possible next to the mourners or the people who have witnessed all this. This has hit like a bomb and we, the people of God, must look for our place in the city where the mourners and horror are. This is the most important answer.

The interview was conducted by Moritz Dege.

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