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Schirrmacher: “Human Rights also have to be prior to all Religions and World Views”

30. Juni 2016 von · Leave a Comment 

Georgian-German Symposium entitled “Christiantiy and European Civilization” conducted by the Professoren­forum and the International Center for Christian Studies at the Orthodox Church of Georgia (ICCS)

Thomas Schirrmacher in conversation with Metropolitan Daniel (Datuashvili)

Thomas Schirrmacher in conversation with Metropolitan Daniel (Datuashvili)

(Bonn, 02.12.2015) The Professorenforum, in cooperation with the International Center for Christian Studies at the Orthodox Church of Georgia (ICCS), has hosted participants at a Georgian-German Symposium. The Symposium was entitled “Christianity and European Civilization.” The Symposium was held at the Holy Cross Abbey in Scheyern near Pfaffenhofen in Bavaria.

In his opening lecture, “Christianity and Human Rights,” which Prof. Dr. Thomas Schirrmacher gave before high-ranking representatives from the world of scholarship and clergy leaders in Georgia and Germany, Schirrmacher declared that from his point of view, the modern idea of human rights is unable to be adequately legitimated without seeing their origin in Christianity: “Human rights are predicated upon the essence of human beings as creatures of God, not in their adherence to a religion or a world view.” The central call of the theologian and sociologist of religion was, however, the following:

“Human rights have to not only be prior to all states but rather to all religions and world views. Otherwise, they don’t function as they should!”

Indeed, Schirrmacher holds that if it is the case that human rights have their roots in Christian thought, it is for that reason that institutional Christianity is subordinate to human rights and not superordinate.

Thomas Schirrmacher conducting his lecture before 12 Georgian and 12 German Professors

Thomas Schirrmacher conducting his lecture before 12 Georgian and 12 German Professors

Human rights and their claim to universal validity were codified in the form of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights issued by the United Nations in 1948, admittedly without having a generally accepted derivation and justification thereof provided with them. However, Schirrmacher expressed the fear that if there is no higher authority upon which retrospective dependence can be placed with respect to the human rights catalog, then in his view human rights can only be seen as the result of a vote and would only be valid as long as they were were agreed to. Their position as prior to the state can only be justified in a manner relating to world view.

At the same time, according to Schirrmacher, the following applies: “Christianity deals most easily with human rights when they rest above religion and have a character which is to a certain extent secular.”

After that, Schirrmacher analyzed the theological foundations of thinking having to do with human rights and emphasized the following:

“People, and indeed this means all people and not only Christians, are creatures of God and images of God and therefore have a sublime dignity which precedes everything else. This dignity is independent of how the individual stands in relation to God. Also, then, it is independent of whether that person is a Christian or not. Accordingly, human dignity and human rights are grounded in the essence of what it means to be a human made in the image of God. Consequently, it is not the state which produces human rights. Rather, the state only formulates and protects them.”

The final call made by Schirrmacher was as follows:

“Human rights have to not only be prior to all states but rather to all religions and world views. Otherwise, they don’t function as they should!”

As a result, Christian churches are also not allowed to take human rights as their own.

“We Christians know that the fact that we believe in God does not protect us from bad decisions and actions, as numerous examples from history demonstrate.” Finally, however, “it would help many religious people around the world if they would look less at the secular and thus, for them, more threatening character of human rights. Rather, they should stand up with Judaism and Christianity for the authorization of human rights by the Creator and for anchoring human rights in the individual’s created nature.”

The Symposium

Thomas Schirrmacher turning to Metropolitan Daniel (Datuashvili); to the right of Metropolitan Daniel is Hans-Joachim Hahn, Coordinator of the Professorenforum and to Metropolitan Daniel's left is a translator

Thomas Schirrmacher turning to Metropolitan Daniel (Datuashvili); to the right of Metropolitan Daniel is Hans-Joachim Hahn, Coordinator of the Professorenforum and to Metropolitan Daniel’s left is a translator

Since its founding at the end of the 1990s, the “Professorenforum,” which is coordinated by Hans-Joachim Hahn, brings together scholars from various subject areas, countries, and denominations for discourse on Christian and Occidental values and worldview and their significance for academia and society. In the process, events, publications, networks, and creative stimuli are disseminated throughout the public sphere.

The Professorenforum also organizes discussion events at German universities, whereby Christian and non-Christian scholars enter into dialog regarding contending views. In addition, symposia also take place in non-German-speaking foreign countries and are linked to similar initiatives. This has also occurred since 2013 in the form of a Georgian-German dialog.

This year’s Symposium was opened by the Georgian Metropolitan Daniel (Datuashvili) with the following words:

“The main goal of our conference is to put the role Christianity has played in the development of intellectual culture before the eyes of European society and the entire world. Faith and scholarship do not stand counter to each other. Rather, they complement each other.”

Among the speakers at the conference, which was conducted under the general direction of Hans-Joachim Hahn and Metropolitan Daniel, were the historian Prof. Dr. Eka Kvachantiradze from Tbilisi State University, philosopher of religion and Director of the International Academy of Philosophy in the Principality of Lichtenstein, Prof. Dr. Daniel von Wachter, Prof. Dr. Edith Düsing, philosopher, as well as Prof. Dr. Werner Lachmann, an economist at Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nuremberg.

A new Work examines „Baptists in the Weimar Republic“

28. Juni 2016 von · Leave a Comment 

This article was originally published in 2015 and didn’t appear on my blog until now.

(Bonn, 30.11.2015) A new volume from the Bonn publishing house Kultur und Wissenschaft within the series “History – Church History – Reformation” deals with the ethical and political positions of Baptist free churches during the Weimar Republic. Consequently, the Baptist journal Der Wahrheitszeuge (English translation: Witness to the Truth) was primarily examined in order to see how the editor and other authors expressed themselves on issues relating to politics and society during the Weimar Republic (1919-1932), in particular as their writing related to democracy, socialism, and National Socialism.

Stedtler_Baptisten_VorderseiteIn the midst of the tumult of the Weimar Republic (1919-1932), Baptists attempted to advance their missions and church work in Germany. Did their faith help them to cope with the challenges of the times? How did they feel and think. Why were a number of developments nowadays generally accepted a shock for people then, while others were justified by them? And how did Baptist authors react to the three big political concepts (democracy, socialism, and National Socialism) which vied for domination?

The author, Manfred Stedtler, is Pastor of the Free Evangelical Church of Halle (Saale). He majored in history and had minors in political science and Evangelical theology at the University of Leipzig (Master of Arts, 2001). He later studied theology extra-occupationally, in a part-time program at the Martin Bucer Seminary’s Chemnitz Study Center.

Bibliographical details: Manfred Stedtler. Baptisten in der Weimarer Republik: Ihre Gedanken zu Politik und Gesellschaft. Geschichte – Kirchengeschichte – Reformation – Bd. 27. Verlag für Kultur und Wissenschaft: Bonn, 2015. 168 pp. Pb. €15.00. ISBN 978-3-86269-094-7

Interview with Manfred Stedtler

BQ posed the author a number of questions upon the occasion of the publication of his book.

BQ: Mr. Stedtler, how did you come up with your topic?

Originally, I was moved by the question of how Christians dealt with unemployment during the Great Depression. Since my family’s roots lie in the Baptist tradition. I began to read the relevant issues of Der Wahrheitszeuge (English translation: Witness to the Truth).

At the same time, I learned that Baptists behaved in a manner that demonstrated strong adaptation to the situation they faced and that there was hardly any resistance from the side of Baptists (as was the case with most of the other free churches during the time of the Third Reich). For a number of years, there has been a debate underway on the topic of whether and in which ways theology contributed to this system-stabilizing passivity. For me, the question of how Baptists at that time were shaped and how the Bible and faith changed their political and social attitudes arose.

BQ: What surprised you, astonished you, disappointed you, irritated you, or otherwise touched you emotionally most when studying the source material?

It was shocking to see how much criticism there was about the Republic and how anti-Semitic lines of thought were a matter of course among those Christians who expressly distanced themselves from National Socialism. It is also striking how strongly Germans felt themselves to be the victims of Western aggression.

It was fascinating, particularly against this backdrop, to see the struggle to achieve a Biblical answer to various questions and how faith repeatedly had to dismantle biases.

I was positively impressed by the commitment the authors held, lived out, and passed on during the deepest of crises (and apparently also many of the readers).

BQ: What can we learn today from what you found out working on your book and what you documented therein?

To begin with, that having right belief does not automatically lead to better politics!

Also, that one should not prematurely judge an individual or a movement. Rather, one should put oneself in another individual’s position in order to be able to understand (and correct) what that person might say and do.

 

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Against the Backdrop of growing religious Radicalization around the World, Christine and Thomas Schirrmacher call for stronger preventative Measures

26. Juni 2016 von · Leave a Comment 

60th General Conference of Military Chaplains on the Topic of “Violence within Religions”

Thomas Schirrmacher, Christine Schirrmacher and Lothar Bendel (Senior Research Director in the Service of the Church) (from left to right) at the round of discussions addressing the aspect of fundamentalism in world religions.

Thomas Schirrmacher, Christine Schirrmacher and Lothar Bendel (Senior Research Director in the Service of the Church) (from left to right) at the round of discussions addressing the aspect of fundamentalism in world religions.

(Berlin, 24.10.2015) This General Conference held by all Catholic military and chaplains with representatives from many other European countries took place Berlin-Steglitz and had as its title “Violence in Religions.” As experts regarding Islam and Islamism as well as human rights and religious freedom, Prof. Dr. Christine Schirrmacher and Prof. Dr. Thomas Schirrmacher spoke before the roughly 100 representatives of the government and the armed forces.

In light of conflicts in the Near and Middle East, which have ramifications for Europe, Christine Schirrmacher, a Professor of Islamic Studies at the University of Bonn and Spokesperson on Islam for die World Evangelical Alliance, has devoted herself to the question of the attraction of the “Islamic State (ISIS).” According to Schirrmacher, economic and social stagnation, colonial dominance by European powers as well as nonexistent political and economic involvement under autocratic rulers since the time of decolonization all prepared the soil for religious extremism in parts of the Islamic world. Schirrmacher stated,

“Under circumstances where there is an identity crisis and a lack of opportunities, the claims of Islamism and what is for many Muslims the still attractive thought of a caliphate promise a utopian, ideal world.”

Christine Schirrmacher during her lecture on the topic of “Islam and the ‘Islamic State (ISIS)’: Causes of Radicalization.”

Christine Schirrmacher during her lecture on the topic of “Islam and the ‘Islamic State (ISIS)’: Causes of Radicalization.”

Following up on this, Thomas Schirrmacher, Director of the International Institute for Religious Freedom and President of the International Society of Human Rights, emphasized that in addition to Islamic fundamentalism, the phenomenon of religious nationalism is also threatening peaceful coexistence among religions around the world. Over the course of growing social heterogeneity, Schirrmacher holds that many states have begun to define themselves by their majority religion over the political national identity.

Schirrmacher cited India as an example. India’s Prime Minister openly defends the view that only a Hindu can be a true Indian. This is an attitude which has increasingly unsettled Christians and Muslims in the country. In addition, Schirrmacher mentioned Sri Lanka, which for long was ruled by radical Buddhists who lay claim to the island as Buddha’s exclusive holy ground, even though one third oft he population is not Buddhist.

“The state, via its monopoly on power and churches, via their theology, have to actively contribute to the prevention of violence,”

Thomas Schirrmacher in conversation with Dr. Franz-Josef Overbeck, the Bishop of Essen and a Catholic military bishop.

Thomas Schirrmacher in conversation with Dr. Franz-Josef Overbeck, the Bishop of Essen and a Catholic military bishop.

according to the sociologist of religion. From Schirrmacher’s point of view, after a history where Christianity had its Crusades, religious wars, and various forms of what was in part radical fundamentalism into the first half of the 20th century, Christian churches have pursued a more peaceful and more tolerant path in past decades. Indeed, Schirrmacher believes there are rare cases today where non-Christians have been hard-pressed by Christians or have even been persecuted. And yet, in contrast to other world religions, Christianity does not have theologians at its command who will back this with theological arguments or who invoke hatred and violence and to which Christians willing to resort to violence would be able to refer.

During the event.

During the event.

Christine Schirrmacher attested to the fact that within Islam there are still influential theological schools of thought which view the use of violence as legitimate means, for instance when it comes to dealing with women, apostates, “idolaters,” and other groups. Hopes for a change in this regard lie with representatives of a liberal understanding of Islam, one which is able to be thoroughly compatible with universal human rights and the norms of basic constitutional law. This also means a readiness to make cutbacks in the perpetually exemplary role of Mohammed and in the Sharia as well as looking at verses in the Koran in their historical context. The final question as to whether Islam is compatible with democracy, human rights and civil liberties was answered by the Islamic specialist from Bonn in the following manner:

“Yes, when Islam is lived as a religion and only as a religion – no, when Islam serves as a political program.”

(Martin Warnecke)

Genocide in the Near East. Declaration made at the Vatican Synod

24. Juni 2016 von · Leave a Comment 

Schirrmacher giving his statements (© L’Osservatore Romano)

Schirrmacher giving his statements (© L’Osservatore Romano)

Schirrmacher asks the Pope for institutional Support in Efforts against Discrimination and the Persecution of Christians

This article was originally published in 2015 and didn’t appear on my blog until now.

(Bonn, October 19, 2015) Upon the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Vatican Synod, the World Evangelical Alliance’s representative at the Synod, Thomas Schirrmacher, has called upon the international Christian community to demonstrate more solidarity with persecuted Christians in the Middle East and around the world.

At the same time, he gave a statement as to why he chose to speak of, among other things, the genocide of Christians, Yezidis, and Mandaeans.

In his address in front of the plenary session of the Synod the day before, Schirrmacher directed the following words at the Pope, who was able to follow Schirrmacher’s German address without a translation:

After several patriarchs from the Near East have spoken about the topic of the persecution of Christians in Syria and Iraq, I simply cannot fail to add a word, since it is the topic that is my body and soul and because I am convinced that there is a genocide of Christians, Yezidis, and Mandaeans occurring in the Near and Middle East in the sense of the UN definition:

There has to be a jolt that goes through the international Christian community in order to produce a demonstration of a heretofore unequalled level of solidarity with persecuted Christians in Syria and Iraq, Pakistan und Bhutan, Nigeria and Sri Lanka, Vietnam and the Maledives, in China and India, and in many other countries. We need joint public prayer for the persecuted church on the part of the highest church leaders.

The International Institute for Religious Freedom o the World Evangelical Alliance, which does work on the topic of the persecution of Christians and provides information for states, researchers, and churches, we need a partner in Rome! For that reason, I want to express the humble wish to the head of the Catholic Church to afterwards be allowed to again address him in a personal conversation.

Please give us the name of a particular contact individual for the topic of the persecution of Christians. Or better still, please create an institution in Rome which will take on this topic and with whom our specialists can directly work.

Schirrmacher is simultaneously the President of the International Society for Human Rights, which for a long time has worked against  the persecution of Christians around the world and against the infringement of religious freedom of all religions.

In the following we document the declaration on genocide:

Genocide in the Near East. Declaration made at the Vatican Synod

Thomas Schirrmacher

Pope Francis, Thomas Schirrmacher, and Ignatius Joseph III. Younan, the Patriarch of the Syriac Catholic Church of Antioch in conversation (© Th. Schirrmacher)

Pope Francis, Thomas Schirrmacher, and Ignatius Joseph III. Younan, the Patriarch of the Syriac Catholic Church of Antioch in conversation (© Th. Schirrmacher)

The murder of Christians, Yezidis, and Mandaeans, and the systematic persecution, rape, and enslavement of these ethno-religious groups in Syria and Iraq clearly and without doubt fulfill the offense of genocide. It is not a matter of some sort of over-dramatization but rather of a simple application of the definition of genocide by the UN.

Article II of the 1948 United Nations definition of genocide reads as follows:

In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such : a) Killing members of the group; (b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; (c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; (d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; (e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

In what sense would this not apply to the persecution of Christians, Yezidis, and Mandaeans? One element would suffice, but four of them (a, b, c und e) have been adequately documented. Indeed, for each of them there are pieces of evidence from propaganda films by the Islamic State. Only d) is not so easy to demonstrate.

  • Christians, Yezidis, and Mandaeans are systematically killed, driven out, or forced to convert.
  • The children of Christians, Yezidis, and Mandaeans are killed or subject to forced reeducation.
  • Women and girls are raped, forced into prostitution, and forced into marriage with IS Muslims. As a result, the minorities are prevented from being able to procreate (UN definition, point d.).

It is to be pointed out that this genocide is announced and planned, and it is actually being implemented accordingly.

Why do so many church leaders, scientists, and politicians beat around the bush when it comes to genocide?

Now regarding the possible counterarguments.

In the center of St. Peter’s Cathedral after the Synod’s opening worship service. From the left Patriarch Gregor III Laham of Damascus, the head of all Eastern Catholics, Thomas Schirrmacher, Cardinal Schönborn, Vienna (© Th. Schirrmacher)

In the center of St. Peter’s Cathedral after the Synod’s opening worship service. From the left Patriarch Gregor III Laham of Damascus, the head of all Eastern Catholics, Thomas Schirrmacher, Cardinal Schönborn, Vienna (© Th. Schirrmacher)

Question: Are not all people in Syria and Iraq affected by the civil war and are not almost all people in the position of becoming victims of IS?

With respect to genocide, it is irrelevant that there are also other victims or that there are also other victims among the majority population. The genocide committed by the Germans under Hitler against the Jews and against Roma and Sinti was accompanied by war against many nations and people groups and last but not least the Nazi terror conducted against the German people as a whole. Despite this, the genocide committed against Jews and Roma and Sinti remains genocide.

Question: Isn’t IS also fighting Shiites and Sunnis who are not in agreement with their version of Islam?

If one goes on the assumption that the IS also seeks to kill and eradicate Shiites as a defined population group or kill and eradicate Sunnis who think differently as likewise apostate, then one additionally has to view that as genocide. But the fact that non-Islamic ethno-religious minorities are the target of genocide from the side of IS is not changed by this discussion at all!

I am aware that the assessment that the situation is a matter of genocide also has consequences in international law. However, that is an additional, if necessary step, which I would prefer to leave to the specialists.

 

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Schirrmacher: Martyrdom has to become a Part of Doctrine

22. Juni 2016 von · Leave a Comment 

Sant’Egidio campaigns against the Persecution of Christians at its International Meeting for Peace

This article was originally published in 2015 and didn’t appear on my blog until now.

(Bonn, 21.10.2015) At the International Meeting for Peace organized by the Catholic community Sant’Egidio, one of the largest interreligious meetings for dialogue in the world with leaders of all world religions, the World Evangelical Alliance’s moderator for intrafaith and interfaith relations and human rights and freedom of religion expert, Thomas Schirrmacher, has called upon the international Christian community to awaken from its lethargy and demonstrate a heretofore unequalled level of solidarity in light of the world situation. According to Schirrmacher, there are politicians, journalists, and leaders of non-Christian religions who are campaigning more intensively for the destiny of persecuted Christians than many church leaders. 

Thomas Schirrmacher during his lecture, at the far right the President of Sant’Egidio, Marco Impagliazzo

Thomas Schirrmacher during his lecture, at the far right the President of Sant’Egidio, Marco Impagliazzo

Schirrmacher spoke on a panel with representatives of all major denominations, and his statements are all accessible on the internet.

In his contribution to the panel, Schirrmacher expressed sharp criticism on his own “guild,” theologians who are working within the world of scholarship. On the one hand, academic theologians from all denominations still largely ignore the topic of martyrdom. This topic belongs within Christology and pneumatology, and Christian ecclesiology cannot be addressed without incorporating the topic of suffering for Christ. However, there is hardly anything in dogmatic theology that can be found on this. Church history, pastoral theology, and liturgy have to deal with this topic more intensively.

Why are theologians who live and work in situations where there is persecution not listened to more intensively? Why is that which thy write not accepted as true, let alone seen as scholarly theology?

It is not only theology which is still largely dominated by the West and ignores the everyday reality of suffering of many churches. Church life also largely pass by this fact. And as far as solidarity with persecuted Christians is concerned, it is still largely limited to one’s own denomination.

The panel on the persecution of Christians

The panel on the persecution of Christians

In Schirrmacher’s opinion, however, no Christian and no church can say that they do not have the time, the personnel, and the financial means for the simplest form of solidarity, which is prayer. A short prayer for those Christians affected by sheer violence should simply have a place in every Sunday worship service, in every Church event, and in every individual’s morning and evening prayer.

Working for persecuted Christians has a positive effect on ecumenical relationships. There is not only ecumenicity among martyrs. Rather, it is in suffering for Christ that we often first recognize others to be fellow Christians. It was just 50 years ago that most Christians did not even accept the seven ancient Oriental churches (Coptics, Syrians, Armenians, Ethiopians, etc.), who currently suffer most bitterly, as Christians on account of their alleged Monophysitism (“teaching of one nature”), according to Schirrmacher. That, however, is history. It has long since been recognized that these churches are essentially saying the same thing about Christ’s nature as has traditionally been believed but are using different emphasize in terminology.

Thomas Schirrmacher in discussion with the President of Albania and the President of the Parliament of Tunisia

Thomas Schirrmacher in discussion with the President of Albania and the President of the Parliament of Tunisia

The President of St. Aegidio, Marco Impagliazzo, who moderated the panel, named Schirrmacher as perhaps the person who is most familiar with the situation regarding the persecution of Christians around the world and, indeed, with respect to all denominations. He is reported to have personally spoken with the Pope about this several times and with all major leaders of Christian churches. In the near future, one of Schirrmacher’s visions will become a reality in Tirana: an ecumenical conference, in which persecuted church leaders from all denominations will report to other church leaders about their situation. This conference at the beginning of November will be conducted under the umbrella of the Global Christian Forum (General Secretary: Larry Miller), organized by Vatican, the World Council of Churches, the World Evangelical Alliance, and the Pentecostal World Fellowship.

The founder of Sant’Egidio, Andrea Riccardi, wrote a book in 2000 on the topic of the persecution of Christians (Il secolo del martirio. I cristiani nel Novecento; English translation of the title: The Century of the Martyr), which appeared in German in 2002. Since that time, Sant’Egidio, alongside Church in Need, is arguably the international Catholic organization which has occupied itself most intensively with the topic of martyrdom and religious freedom and, for that reason, maintains a close relationship with the International Institute for Religious Freedom (IIRF), for example with the IIRF’s representative for Rome, Prof. Thomas K. Johnson.

  

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  • Photo 3: Thomas Schirrmacher in discussion with the President of Montenegro and the representative of the Serbian Orthodox Church
  • Photo 5: Thomas Schirrmacher and Louis Raphaël I Sako, Patriarch of Babylon

 

List of Thomas Schirrmacher’s Discussion Partners (a Selection)

Politicians

  • Bujar Nishani, President of Albania
  • Filip Vujanović, President of the Republic of Montenegro
  • Edi Rama, Prime Minister of Albania
  • Andrea Orlando, Justice Minister, Italy
  • Kamal Muslim, Minister of Religious Affairs, Kurdistan
  • Khalid Jamal Alber, General Director for Christian Affairs, Ministry of Endowment and Religious Affairs, Kurdistan
  • Abdelfattah Mourou, President of the Parliament of Tunisia


Muslims

  • Muhy al-Din Afifi, General Secretary of the Al-Azhar Islamic Research Academy, Egypt
  • Din Syamsuddin, Cnhairma, Indonesian Ulema Council Center, Jakarta, Indonesia
  • Sayyed Mohammad All Abtahi, President of the Institute for Interreligious Dialogue, Iran
  • S. Abulhasan Navab, President of the University of Religions, Qom, Iran
  • Seyed Mohammad Ali Abtahi, President of the Institute for Interreligious Dialogue, Teheran, Iran
  • Muhammad Abd-ul-Khabìr Azad, Grand Imam of the Central Mosque in Lahore, Pakistan
  • Hajji Baba Mondi, Leader of the World Bektashi Community
  • Mhamed Krichen, Newscaster and Moderator (“Principal Presenter”), Aljazeera Media Network, Qatar
  • Abd Al-Hay Azab, President of Al-Azhar University, Cairo, Egypt


Jews

  • Abraham Skorka, Rector of the Marshall T. Meyer Rabbinical Seminary, Argentina
  • Oded Wiener, Former General Director of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel


Christians

  • Andrea Riccardi, Professor of History and Founder of the Sant’Egidio Community
  • Ignatius Aphrem II, Patriarch of the Syriac-Orthodox Church, Damascus, with his Secretary Archbishop Dionysius Jean Kawak
  • Anastasios, Archbishop and Head of the Albanian Orthodox Church
  • Louis Raphaël I Sako, Patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans, Iraq
  • Ole Christian Maele Kvarme, Bischop of Oslo, Norway
  • Cardinal John Olorunfemi Onalyekan, Archbishop of Abuja, Nigeria
  • Epiphanios, Coptic Archbishop, Egypt
  • Pauolo Lockmann, Sao Paulo, Brazil, President of the World Methodist Council
  • Armash Nalbandian, Primate of the Armenian Church of Damascus, Syria
  • Marco Gnavi, Rom, President of Sant’Egidio
  • Dr. Elona Prroj, Vice General Secretary of the Evangelical Alliance of Albania, Human Rights Activist against Blood Vengeance
  • Indunil J. Kodithuwakku, Secretary, Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue
  • Archbishop Vincenzo Pagila, President of the Pontifical Council for the Family
  • Vasilios, Metropolit, Orthodox Church of Cyprus
Thomas Schirrmacher