Cardinal Marx praised the “Christian witness” of former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, who died on June 16, 2017 at the age of 87 in his native town of Ludwigshafen, Germany, and paid homage to him as a great “convinced” European.
The President of the German Episcopal Conference (DBK) presented his condolences to the Chancellor’s widow, saying that with his departure it is “the end of an era.”
“The Church in Germany is grateful for Helmut Kohl’s Christian witness. Wherever the values of a free society were trampled — everywhere in the world – he rose for the respect of those values. Thanks to his Christian convictions, he wanted and was able to refashion Europe. The deceased was moved by his great concern to promote – on the basis of Catholic Social teaching, a social market economy that gives priority to persons,” said the cardinal, adviser of the Pope within the C9.
In fact, the former Chancellor often took advice from theologians, including Cardinal Karl Lehmann, former President of the DBK, continued Cardinal Marx who praised his “visionary force,” his “courage,” his “perseverance” and his “great talent as negotiator” in fostering the reunification of Germany.
He also paid homage to him as “Chancellor of the European idea,” who had an important role in the growth of a “united Europe without borders”: he was a ”great convinced European.”
Cardinal Marx also recalled Kohl’s meeting with Pope John Paul II, during the latter’s visit to Germany in 1987 and 1996. “It was an historical hour when Helmut Kohl and Pope John Paul II crossed the Brandenburg Gate together in 1996 at Berlin – the Polish Pope and the German Chancellor!”
And he quoted Chancellor Kohl’s “unforgettable” words at that moment – it was June 23: “Freedom also means responsibility always, otherwise it is transformed into new ways of dependence. Lived responsibility calls for reflection on one’s own conscience, on one’s fellow citizens, and above all on God. It is in this sense that the voice of the Christian Churches is also indispensable in a society that is increasingly secularized. The Good News of Christ is a source of strength; it gives people orientation and support. I hope that this papal visit to Germany gives a signal – a signal of encouragement for Christians to assume responsibilities in politics, the economy and society. Christian duty and civic duty are inseparable! This is true notably for the building of a united Europe!”
In his message of condolences, Cardinal Marx also recalled the warm meeting between Benedict XVI during his visit to Germany in 2011, and he concluded: ‘The Catholic Church in Germany bows before the deceased, in mourning, appreciation and gratitude. Helmut Kohl’s conduct was marked by the Christian image of man, which he so strengthened in his work.”