The award named after Bishop Klaus Hemmerle was conferred this year on Lutheran Bishop Christian Krause, during the ceremony held on January 20 at the imperial dome of Aquisgrana. For Christian Krause, it was particularly significant to receive the award since, as he commented, “This award touches my heart in a special way because it commemorates an exceptional person: Klaus Hemmerle.”
This is the second time the award has been given to commemorate the deceased Bishop of Aquisgrana, a pioneer of ecumenical life in the German Church and at the same time, a great theologian linked to the Focolare Movement where, he said, he had found his “vital sap”. The first awardee was jewish Prof. Ernst-Ludwig Ehrlich. Bishop Krause, second awardee, is an eminent exponent of world Lutheranism and a dedicated ecumenist.
A good friend of Hemmerle, Krause was a bridge-builder in different situations. In 1971 he was called to direct a large project of the Lutheran World Federation in favor of refugees in Tanzania. From 1972 to 1985, he was entrusted with the foreign relations of the Evangelical-Lutheran Church of Germany. While holding this office, and successively as secretary-general of the “Evangelical Church Day (1985-1994), he has dedicated his time and talents to ecumenism and solidarity on a world scale. He established profound ties of friendship with many Christians all over the world, especially in Africa, Asia and Latin America. The trust he had garnered was proven by his election as president of the Lutheran World Federation during the world meeting held in Hong Kong in 1997, shortly after his consecration as Bishop of the regional church of Braunschweig. It was in such role that he later signed the Augsburg Joint Declaration on the doctrine of justification, together with Roman Catholic Cardinal Edward I. Cassidy, in 1999.
Today, Bishop Krause is the director of the Lutheran Center of Wittenburg, the city where Luther’s Reformation began in 1517. This center is inspired by the idea of giving to the ever-growing “Lutheran tourism” “a spiritual, ecumenical and world-wide dimension.” Krause’s wish for the future of the Lutheran Church is that a new relationship may develop between the hierarchy and spiritual and charismatic movements. “This could give rise to a totally new comprehension of the Church,” he said. His ecumenical inspiration is that of Klaus Hemmerle: “We must learn, at all levels, to become friends and treat one another as such.”
(by Joachim Schwind – Città Nuova – no. 1/06)