The proponents of “interreligious dialogue” had surely imagined it differently. The pomp and ceremony of the inauguration of the central mosque in Cologne on September 29, 2018, in which Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan participated, took place in the Turkish language only, without so much as an invitation to any of the Germans who supported this project, which dates back to 2001.
In his speech, President Erdogan addressed some three million Turks living in Germany, while denouncing groups of “putschists” and separatist Kurds. Not a word about other religions or coexistence....
Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki, Archbishop of Cologne, had nevertheless support the project, declaring: “Here, Muslim, Jewish and Christian believers do not let themselves be divided.... Someone who says ‘yes’ to steeples must say ‘yes’ to minarets also” (sic). He was not even present, for lack of an invitation. No representative of the municipal “Council of Religions” participated in the ceremony either. The German architect of the mosque, Paul Böhm, originally a specialist in building churches, had also been forgotten, as well as the local politicians.
Monsignor Robert Kleine, the Catholic dean of the city, thus regretted that the ceremony took place within a “closed circle”, while the “non-Muslims” felt “unwelcome”. “I think that major damage has been done and that it will take a lot of time to repair it,” he said to the British Catholic weekly newspaper The Tablet.
Hannelorre Bartscherer, former president of the Catholic Committee of the city of Cologne and former member of the Consulting Committee of the mosque was also astonished:
If an inauguration ceremony takes place that way, in Turkish only, then the whole thing is no longer open and transparent.... it is no longer what this building was supposed to represent symbolically.
The mosque in Cologne, one of the most imposing in Europe, is equipped with minarets 55 meters [180 ft] tall and a grand cupola 36 meters high [118 ft]. Costing an estimated 34 million Euros, it was significantly financed by a Turkish-Islamic association connected with the Turkish government. It also received a financial contribution from the Catholic parish of Saint Theodore of Cologne....
If only this sort of attitude could remove the blinkers worn by the political bosses and religious leaders! Blinded by a foolish irenicism, incapable of accepting the past centuries and the Christian roots of their country, or of defending the faith and true civilization, they elicit the contempt of unbelievers rather than their respect. “Let them alone: they are blind and leaders of the blind...” (Mt 15:14).