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Former German president Johannes Rau

Extracts from a condolence letter to WCC member churches in Germany.

27 January 2006

It was with deep grief and distress that the World Council of Churches (WCC) received the news of the passing away of Dr Johannes Rau, the former president of Germany, "a friend of the ecumenical movement".

Extracts from the letter:

"A humanist and a practising Christian," Rau will be remembered for his work during the 1950s for "the unification of Germany and reconciliation with the victims of fascism and the Holocaust," WCC deputy general secretary Georges Lemopoulos affirmed in a letter to WCC member churches in Germany.

Rau addressed the WCC central committee meeting in Potsdam in February 2001. At that time, he reminded its members 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".

Called "brother Johannes" by his friends for his engagement in the church, Rau was "a friend of the ecumenical movement" and "recognized the important role religion had come to play during the post-cold war period in the civil and political life of most nations," the letter says.

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