Message of condolences on the death of Dr Johannes Rau
Message from the WCC to member churches in Germany, 27 January, 2006
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
The World Council of Churches is deeply grieved and distressed by the news of
the death of Dr Johannes Rau, the former President of the Federal Republic of
Germany. A politician whose motto in life was "to reconcile not to divide", he
worked during the 1950s for the unification of Germany and the reconciliation
with victims of fascism and the holocaust. In October 2001 when he visited the
Ecumenical Centre and met the leadership of the World Council of Churches, the
Conference of European Churches, the Lutheran World Federation and the World
Alliance of Reformed churches, he emphasized the need for greater inter-religious
dialogue, interconfessional cooperation and for the study of the role of religion in
politics. He recognized the important role religion had come to play in the post-
Cold War period in the civil and political life of most nations.
A humanist and a practising Christian, Dr Rau visited the WCC Central Committee
meeting in Postdam, Germany, 29 January-6 February, 2001, and addressed its
members. He spoke to them of the need for churches and religious organizations
to play an important role in accompanying the political decision-making process
in order to ensure that it remain faithful to the aspirations of the people.
A committed Social Democrat he worked for the improvement of the lives of the
common people. This great son of Germany was a friend of the ecumenical move-
ment and led a full life, held many important positions not only in the party but
also in the government. For many years, he was a member of the Synod of his
church, the Evangelical Church in the Rhineland. His friends often called him
"brother Johannes" for his engagement in the church.
The World Council of Churches conveys its condolences to the bereaved family.
We offer our profound sorrow and prayers to the churches and people of Germany.
Thank God for the life of Dr Johannes Rau.
Yours in Christ,
Acting General Secretary