On 3 June, Cardinal Kurt Koch, Prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Christian Unity, was awarded the title of doctor honoris causa of the University of Opole, Poland.
The ceremony commenced with Holy Mass presided over by Cardinal Koch in the University’s church and continued with an academic session in the auditorium of the Faculty of Theology, presided by Professor Marek Masnyk, Rector of the University. In his welcoming address, Reverend Mateusz Potoczny, Dean of the Faculty of Theology, recalled the longstanding bond of Cardinal Koch with the University dating from the time of Archbishop Alfons Nossol, Emeritus of Opole and former member of the Dicastery. In his laudatio Professor Zygfryd Glaeser recalled the contribution of Cardinal Koch to the modern ecumenical movement, as well as his scholarly achievements, with over 600 publications.
In Cardinal Koch’s lecture on the current situation of the ecumenical movement, he emphasized that there is no alternative to ecumenism, and that it is primarily a spiritual task calling for constant prayer and listening to the inspirations of the Holy Spirit. Despite persisting differences and sometimes new tensions between churches, ecumenism is advancing steadily on the road towards full visible unity, with its most significant achievement being the rediscovered brotherhood of Christians and Christian communions rooted in the shared faith and common heritage. Cardinal Koch also expressed his hope that a new impetus on the path to Christian unity would be offered by the 1700th anniversary of the Council of Nicaea (325) in three years’ time.
The ecumenical character of the ceremony was evidenced by the participation of representatives of the Polish Ecumenical Council as well as the fact that His Eminence Jerzy, the Orthodox Archbishop of Wrocław-Szczecin, was one of the reviewers of the Cardinal’s achievements. The ceremony was accompanied by an exhibition dedicated to Cardinal Koch in the Faculty’s main hall.
During his visit to Poland Cardinal Koch also took part in an international academic conference “Towards Reconciled Diversity. Faces of John Paul II’s Pedagogy of Tolerance ”, which took place on 1-2 June 2022 at the Centre for Culture and Science in Kamień Śląski, during which he delivered a lecture on the ecumenical commitment of Saint John Paul II.