Berlin (epd). On the 175th anniversary of Diakonie Deutschland, Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) emphasized the importance of a strong welfare state. He ensures solidarity, “especially in difficult times like these,” he said on Friday evening at a ceremony in Berlin in front of 350 guests from politics and society. This also applies to the current changes towards a climate-neutral economy. It is important to him “that there is security in change,” said Scholz. Diakonie and other welfare associations made a decisive contribution to this with their offerings.
Scholz also addressed the upcoming resolutions to introduce basic child welfare. It is an important step in combating child poverty. Children in particular need hope that they have a good future, said Scholz. This cannot be enacted by law. “But we can create the conditions for this – and the planned basic child protection is an important step forward,” emphasized Scholz.
The traffic light coalition wants to pass the law on basic child welfare, which has been a long-standing debate, in the cabinet in September. It should bring together benefits for children in poor families and be easier to apply for. Basic child security is due to be introduced in 2025.
The President of Diakonie Deutschland, Ulrich Lilie, said that, just as when Diakonie was founded, the current challenges in the “turning point” can only be overcome through cooperation between politics and civil society. The Diakonie wants to make its contribution to this. Lilie said many people are tired of democracy and exhausted by crises and constant change. But there are also many who are committed and want to do something useful for society and people.
The Diakonie boss mentioned the voluntary services in particular and asked the Chancellor to “work personally to ensure that there is a significant correction to this completely incomprehensible and even less far-sighted decision to cut cuts.” The traffic light coalition wants to significantly reduce federal subsidies for voluntary services in order to comply with the debt brake. According to Diakonie, this would lead to the loss of a quarter of the approximately 100,000 jobs per year.
The council chairwoman of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD), Annette Kurschus, said at the ceremony that everyone who is currently striving to secure and strengthen democratic cohesion “should and must know – without a shadow of a doubt – “that the church and diakonia are there”. She emphasized that social justice is a prerequisite for freedom. “Freedom is not freedom if the social questions are not solved,” said the Westphalian President.
The incendiary speech by the Hamburg theologian Johann Hinrich Wichern on September 22, 1848 at the Evangelical Church Congress in Wittenberg is considered to be the birth of modern diakonia. Wichern criticized his church’s inaction in the face of the impoverishment of large parts of the population as a result of industrialization and called for a network of “saving love”. A year later, the Central Committee for the Internal Mission of the Protestant Church began to coordinate and expand the offers of help.
Today, according to the association, more than 627,000 people work for Diakonie nationwide. The Protestant association is one of the largest employers in Germany. The approximately 33,400 facilities include hospitals, nursing services, kindergartens and contact points for homeless people and refugees. More than ten million people use the services every year, and around 700,000 volunteers support the work.