Friday, August 19, 2005

Dissent Trumps Indifference

In conversations through the day, several people on the ground in Cologne and close observers here at home expressed many compliments for the welcoming remarks of German President Horst Kohler -- who, observant NYTimes readers will note, is a former head of the International Monetary Fund.

Fulltext here, snips below:
Even as a Protestant I can say that we are very much moved by the fact that a German, one of us, has become Pope. Allow me to say this to you once again, here on German soil – we wish you all the very best and God's blessing for your high office.

Your election to the Papacy is of historic significance.

Following the Pope from Poland, the first country to be invaded by Germany during the Second World War, a member of the so-called flak helper generation has now been chosen as St Peter's successor. This is for me a source of confidence – sixty years after the end of the inhuman and ungodly ideology which prevailed in Germany.

People around the world have also perceived it as a sign of reconciliation. Let me share a secret with you – only a few minutes after your election, the Polish President Kwasniewski was the first to phone me and congratulate us....

Holy Father,
Almost 50 years ago you embarked on your academic career as a very young theology profes¬sor at the University of Bonn, not far from here. Your interpretation of doctrine inspired your listeners then – and your reputation in the academic world has continued to grow ever since. For you, faith and theology have never been the lofty preserve of academia. You have always worked to ensure that the central message of the Creed also has a bearing on secular culture and on politics.

That has inevitably caused dissent. But you rightly prefer dissent to indifference. For the principles of faith, too, are intended to be the salt of the earth. Scholars from all over the world have therefore specifically sought you out to engage in discussion, including one of your contemporaries, Jürgen Habermas, fairly recently.

I believe it is also an honour for the field of German theology, and for the German humanities in general, that someone from their ranks has been chosen to exchange the lectern for the cathedra Petri.

When you were accepted as a member of the prestigious Academy of the Institut de France in 1992 to replace the great Andrei Sakharov, you said of him, "He was more than a great scholar, he was a great man." You likewise combine erudition with wisdom. That is why many people – also far beyond the Catholic Church – seek and find in you a moral authority.

Wow. Subject-verb agreement from a head of state! And a Protestant politician who can actually speak Catholic! We Yanks are not used to this.

Kohler in '08!

PHOTO: AFP/DDP/David Hecker



Blogger Flambeaux said...

I'd at least be more supportive of a Constitutional Amendment for Kohler's benefit than Ah-nuhld's.

But that might just be me.

19/8/05 12:59  
Blogger Tony said...

I prefer dissent to indifference too, as long as it's not adopted as a lifestyle. Dissent might be the first step towards conversion.

19/8/05 14:02  

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