11 Januar 2019, 09:30
"My paternal friend Cardinal Tauran"
"This modest, friendly, but also well versed and well-read theologian and canon law expert is a deeply personal human being." - Cardinal Tauran died aged 75 on 5 July 2018 - A guest commentary by Prof. Thomas Schirrmacher

My paternal friend Jean Louis Cardinal Tauran died aged 75 on 5 July 2018 in Hartford, Connecticut, where he had been hospitalized for treatment of Parkinson's.
He was a top diplomat of the Holy See for a long time and as such part of many major international conferences like the Conference for Security and Cooperation in European (CSCE) and the UN-Conference on Disarment. He was Nuntius in many countries like the Lebanon. He then was the „foreign minister“ of the Vatican for 13 years.

On March 13, 2013 at 8:10 p.m. Cardinal Jean Louis Tauran, came out on the balcony of St. Peter's Cathredral and announced at 8:12 p.m to hundreds of thousands of people there and millions who were watching the live broadcast: “Cardinalem Bergoglio qui sibi nomen Franciscum“, had been selected: “Cardinal Bergoglio, who has taken the name Francis.“
Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, who was born in 1943 in France, was the Foreign Minister of the Vatican („Secretary for Relations with States of the Secretariat of State“) from 1993-2003, which includes the time of the collapse of the Soviet Empire. Thereafter, from 2003-2007, he was the Vatican archivist. In 2007, despite having Parkinson's disease, he was named President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue by Pope Benedict XVI. Additionally, he was the Protodeacon of the College of Cardinals from 2011-2014. As such, he communicated the results of the election from the balcony at St. Peter's Cathedral and the name of the new Pope: Francis. Since 2015 until his death, he has been the Camerlengo of the Catholic Church, i.e., the individual who conducts business until the election of a new pope in the case where a pope dies or resigns. Only a few Curia cardinals have had so many various high offices over such a long period of time.


This modest, friendly, but also well versed and well-read theologian and canon law expert is a deeply personal human being. His staff always spoke about him in only the most glowing terms. I had the privilege of working together with Cardinal Tauran during the course of the process to develop the document Christian Witness in a Multi-Religious World. I have an unforgettable memory of the meal at the headquarters of the World Council of Churches when the document was publicly presented. Upon that occasion he spoke about his life. He also turned his view to the future and expressed the hope that the global Christian community would act much more in concert. We have met many times since then.

During the launch of „Christian Witness in a Multi-Religious World: Recommendations for Conduct,” in Gevena in 2011, Cardinal Tauran said: “Today represents a historic moment in our shared Christian witness”. “For the first time in history, the World Council of Churches, representatives of the Vatican, and the World Evangelical Alliance have issued a joint document.” Cardinal Tauran called upon those present with the following words: “We Christians have the duty to proclaim our faith without any compromise . . . We are not teachers giving lessons about God. We are messengers of salvation brought to us by the death and resurrection of Christ, who is still living today.”

I saw Cardinal Tauran again for the installation of the Pope. Soon after it was clear that the announcement of the name of the new Pope would not remain the sole link between the Cardinal and the new Pope. Instead, kindred spirits had found each other. Tauran was one of the first to be confirmed in his office by Francis despite is progressed decease, and the Cardinal enjoys the highest trust of the Pope.

Further four special events

In June 2016, H. Em. Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, President of the PCID, invited representatives of the three bodies signing „Christian Witness in a Multi-Religious World“ for the fifth ‚birthday’ of the document together with representatives of around ten non-Christian religions. The three bodies were represented by their highest representatives for interreligious dialogue, H. Em. Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran (PCID), Dr. Clare Amos (WCC) and Prof. Dr. Thomas Schirrmacher (WEA), the speakers were Rev. Dr. Shanta Premavardhana, previously a staff member of the WCC, Bishop Miguel Àngel Ayuso Guixot, for the PCID, and Prof. Dr. Thomas K. Johnson, for the WEA. In his keynote address, Tauran stated that the document’s life is vibrant, it is used in all three bodies around the globe and already now is probably the most successful ecumenical document in existence.

In a breakfast meeting with journalists, in March, 2008, Tauran said that Rowan Williams, the Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury, had been "mistaken and naive" for stating publically, that is was unavoidable to include some aspects of Sharia law into the Britain legal system. He also lamented the fact that relations with Islam so dominated interreligious dialogue, and that all religions needed to be addressed on equal terms with none assigned second-class status. (http://blogs.reuters.com/faithworld/2008/06/12/ex-diplomat-cardinal-tauran-pulls-no-punches-now/)

In 2017 I had the privilege to present the Pakistani human rights lawyer Aneeqa Anthony to Pope Francis. She gave him a painted brick as a symbol for the numerous Christians enslaved in brick factories in Pakistan. The “stumbling block” was designed by three Christian children whose mother, Shama Bibi (26), and father, Shahzad Masih (28), were beaten by a mob at the beginning of November 2014 and thrown alive into a brick kiln and burned. Anthony is representing the children in court. At that time, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, President of the Papal Council for Interreligious Dialogue, labeled what had happened a “barbarous act” and called upon Islamic authorities to denounce the act. Schirrmacher had met with Cardinal Tauran on the prior day.

In April 2018 he visited the capital auf Saudi Arbia, Riad and met different high ranling Muslim leaders. Despite the fact, that non-Muslim religious meetings are forbidden in the country, he celebrated a mass together with the local Catholic congregation. He spoke up for human rights and human dignity and religious freedom, meaning the equal treatment of members of all faith.

Prof. Dr. Thomas Schirrmacher serves the World Evangelical Alliance as Associate Secretary General for Theological Concerns (responsible for Theology, Intrafaith Relations, Interfaith Relations, Religious Freedom) and as Chair of the Theological Commission. He is president of the International Society for Human Rights in Bonn (Germany).

With Cardinal Tauran in the entrance hall of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue (2009)

My last photo: In discussion with Cardinal Tauran in his office in Rome (left: Thomas K. Johnson)

Always in the middle of things: Cardinal Tauran meeting with representatives of non-Christian religions

With Cardinal Tauran at the installation of Pope Francis at St. Peter's Basilica in (2013)

With Cardinal Tauran at the opening service of the second Vatican Synod on marriage in St Peter’s (2015)

Done! Gratulation on finalising the ecumencial document “Christian Witness in a Multi-Religious World” in Geneva 2011

With Cardinal Tauran in 2011 at a meal upon the occasion of the public presentation of the document entitled “Christian Witness in a Multi-Religious World” at the headquarters of the World Council of Churches, standing Olaf Tveit, the General Secretary of the WCC

Launch of the ecumenical document “Christian Witness in a Multi-Religious World” in Geneva 2011 by Vatican, WCC and WEA

Cardinal Tauran: Habemus Papam

Cardinal Tauran in charge of pronouncing "Habemus Papam"

Trauerfeier im Petersdom für Kardinal Tauran

Foto above (c) Thomas Schirrmacher

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