Bishop Dr Heinrich Bedford-Strohm delivering a lecture

Bishop Dr Heinrich Bedford-Strohm, giving the Otto Karrer lecture in at the Pauluskirche in Lucerne, Switzerland


We need people who stand up for the weak, people who overcome violence and offer respect to the nature that surrounds human beings; people who love radically because they draw strength from the God who is himself radical love,” Bedford-Strohm said in the lecture on 27 September.

Such a vision can draw strength from the theme of the 2022 assembly of the World Council of Churches (WCC) in Karlsruhe, Germany, Christs love moves the world to reconciliation and unity,” he said.

Bedford-Strohm, who retires on 31 October as bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Bavaria, took as the theme of his lecture, An ecumenism of the heart and public theology.”

A central idea of the unity statement issued by the assembly in Karlsruhe was the vision of an ecumenism of the heart,” said Bedford-Strohm.

An ecumenism of the heart,” he said, is an approach to ecumenism that thinks of the institutional steps towards the unity of the churches in terms of the love of Christ that is visible and tangible among believers and in the growing fellowship that develops from this.”

At the same time, the idea of an ecumenism of the heart” is far more than a programme for the unity of the church, he said, but describes the public witness of Christians in a world wounded by so much that contradicts the love of Christ.

Pointing to the challenges of climate justice, colonialism and nationalism, the consequences of the digital revolution for democratic discourse, and of creating a just peace in the world, Bedford-Strohm said Christians need to offer the world a witness of unity in the world, and thereby to help the world to move to greater unity.

The universal church, Bedford-Strohm said, is rooted in local communities throughout the world, something that allows the church to play a key role within global civil society.

It is therefore one of the most important public tasks of the church today to open our eyes to the suffering of people far away,” he said. When hunger and the number of people dying as a result of the economic collapse following the COVID-19 pandemic, as a consequence of the increase in the price of food due to the Ukraine war, and as a result of climate change are increasing, it is the task of the churches to draw attention to this situation and to advocate for global solidarity.”

The lecture is named after Otto Karrer (1888–1976), a German Jesuit priest who briefly became a Lutheran in Bavaria before emigrating to Switzerland and becoming a Swiss citizen, where he promoted Reformed–Catholic dialogue and served at the Pauluskirche in Lucerne.

Learn more about Otto Karrer lecture in Lucerne

Group photo

Bishop Dr Heinrich Bedford-Strohm (on the right) after the Otto Karrer lecture in Lucerne with bishop Felix Gmürr, chairman of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Switzerland and Rev. Rita Famos, president of the Protestant Church in Switzerland.