On 26th January, the Prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, Cardinal Michael Czerny, went to Aachen, Germany, to receive the 2024 Klaus Hemmerle Prize.

Since 2004, the Focolare Movement has presented the Klaus Hemmerle Award every two years, to people who, like the former Bishop of Aachen, have actively contributed to building bridges in the Church and in society. The 11th Award ceremony was held on Friday, 26th January, 2024, in the Cathedral of Aachen (Germany).

This year, which marked the 30th anniversary of the death of Klaus Hemmerle (1929-1994), the recipient was Cardinal Michael Czerny, Prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development.

Prof. Dr. Johannes Wallacher, Rector of the University of Philosophy in Munich, presented the award. In his speech, he underlined Card. Czerny’s contributions to theological development and his dedication to implementing the Social Doctrine of the Church in socio-political contexts throughout various phases of his life. Wallacher also spoke of the “vision of global fraternity as a sign of the times and a central key to finding answers to the needs of our times”, a vision to which Czerny is committed and is an inspiring model.

In its decision, the jury emphasized Card. Czerny’s tireless advocacy for human dignity and rights, his call to “accept differences and to learn from other cultures” in order to foster “a more just world”, a commitment praised by the Apostolic Nuncio to Germany, His Excellency Msgr. Nikola Eterović.

Mons Helmut Dieser, the current Bishop of Aachen said, “The fraternity of all people is the guiding theme of Pope Francis” and he referred to Cardinal Czerny as, “a supporter and a pioneer of this theme”.

Margaret Karram, President of the Focolare Movement, sent a message to congratulate Card. Czerny in which she highlighted his significant efforts in building a culture of unity and dialogue, recognizing him as an ally in the effort to mediate conflicts and to promote mutual solidarity.

In his speech of acceptance, Cardinal Czerny focused on the social magisterium of Pope Francis for a socio-ecological transformation. He referred to key texts of the Doctrine, which he considers cutting-edge today and he agreed with the Pope, who in his encyclical “All Brothers”, called for a culture of encounter to replace the “throwaway culture”. Czerny said, “We must shift our attention from profit to prosperity, from economic growth to sustainability and from materiality to human dignity” and he stressed the importance of “rethinking the concept of progress and of restoring a sense of community”, a path that leads from the “I” to the “we”. In conclusion, he thanked those present for their “crucial role in shaping new rationales that can protect our fragile environment and empower our fragmented communities.” He said that receiving this award was an encouragement for him to “continue to focus all the existing forces of good in the sense of a holistic development, for the service and benefit of the entire human family”.

Andrea Fleming
Photo di Martin Felder

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