Annette Schavan

Ambassador of Germany to the Holy See

Called to freedom and qualified for responsibility

To be called to freedom is a biblical promise to Christians. If we are asked today what shapes our self-conception as Christians, it is first and foremost our belief in a God who encourages people to freedom and attentively discerns their talents. Therefore, our task as Christians also consists in recognizing and shaping the public sphere as a space of various liberties. Sometimes freedom is limited by the very opportunities it provides. A fundamental attitude of respect enables us to handle freedom appropriately and avoid developments of cultural or social constriction.

Throughout history, freedom has always been provocative; it was and is endangered. According to the book of Acts, the first Christians were called followers of the New Way, and persecuted as such. Until today, people are being oppressed, persecuted, and murdered because of their faith and their desire for religious liberty. In our time, there exists both fear of freedom and confusion of freedom with arbitrariness.

To be called to freedom also means we have to pave the way for freedom again and again. In doing so, we may be encouraged by the words of the Holy Pope John Paul II directed to the Polish trade union Solidarnosc. On the day of his inauguration, he said: “Do not be afraid! Open wide the doors for Christ. To his saving power open the boundaries of States, economic and political systems!”

For your congress on the significance of freedom for the legal system I wish you inspiring and fruitful encounters and discussions.