Tells people 'Don't Budge' from buildings Reds want
IN defiance of a Communist order, Bishop Wilhelm Weskamm of Berlin has told his priests and lay workers not to budge from Church-owned property that the Soviet-Zone authorities wanted them to vacate by April 30.
The property_ which includes the Jesuit-run retreat house of the Berlin diocese and a Catholic home for old people, is in the Berlin suburb of Biesdorf.
Communist officials in Berlin have said it is the Russians who have ordered the property to be seized. It is known that as a propaganda move to counter the damage done to their prestige by the mass exodus westwards of thousands .escaping the oppression and hardships of the Communist-ruled areas, they want to use the buildings as a "refugee camp" to house people they say have "escaped" from "the terror regime" of the Western Zones.
Earlier. Bishop Weskamm had denounced the Communist evacuation order as "an open attack on the rights of the Church."
The Mayor of the Communist sector of Berlin. Friedrich Ebert, told him that if the Church retained the property, its administrators and residents would "come into conflict with the laws of the State power."
Vacation by the Catholic authorities of eight other welfare buildings in the city was also. ordered.
The Berlin diocesan weekly publication, Petrusblatt, says that when the Bishop visited the Biesdorf retreat home recently. be told his people there: "Let them prove it if we illegally occupy this house. If we hold it legally, be on guard against committing any illegal actions."
i-lc said he hoped the property would not be chosen for a public demonstration of the kind of conditions under which the Church and the Law had to live in Eastern Germany. He asked for prayers for those who were bearing oppression, especially the young on whom it was most severe; those who had lost their livelihood through continuing to profess Christianity; and those who broke down because they could no longer support their suffering.
Communist Press charges that Church leaders in Eastern Germany are attempting to provoke a religious war have followed swiftly on reports of the stand Bishop Weskamm has taken. The new line of attack was introduced by the official Fast Cierman Communist newspaper, Neues Deutschland. Heads of the Evangelical Church were also accused.