Speech in the Cathedral of St. Denis in Paris (eng. version)

EKD-Ratsvorsitzender Heinrich Bedford-Strohm

Brothers and Sisters,

it is good to come together at this place in this time for a spiritual moment. To interrupt our business. To give space for reflection and new thinking. To open our hearts for repentance. To overcome our worry or even fear of the future. To gain new strength by the power of the Holy Spirit. To reassure ourselves that it is not consumers and companies, kings and presidents, generals and religious warriors who hold this earth in their hands but God the creator of heaven and earth who has given us life and keeps and sustains us every day.

It is good to come together and pray. Pray for this Conference for which we have prepared ourselves for such a long time. Pray that the Holy Spirit may turn this moment of time into a special moment. Into a moment of change. Into a moment of love for all human beings and for the earth. Into a Kairos which will open the future in a new way.

When we pray in this cathedral today we join in with thousands of people who have kept praying for this conference for a long time. With people who have walked on a pilgrimage of justice and peace. Walked from the North of Europe through Germany and France to Paris. Those of us who could not walk with them physically were glad to be represented by them and joined into prayer from wherever we were.

When we come together here we feel connected around our Lord Jesus Christ. We are brothers and sisters. And that is why we recognize the wound of injustice which keeps hurting our community. We are brothers and sisters and yet - some of us take a large piece of the earth's resources and others go away empty.

Germany's per capita CO2-Emission is 10 t per year. The average global emission is 4 t per year. The emission tolerable to meet the goal of a global warming of less than 2 degrees Celsius is 2 t. The per capita CO2-Emission of Tansania, home of the biggest of my Bavarian Lutheran Church's partner churches is less than 0,2 t. And the emission of Rwanda, a country in which I have many friends, is 0,05 t. At the same time those countries who have the least contributed to global warming will be the first victims of it.

If we do not adapt our economic behavior to ecological possibilities many people will be homeless in the future because their home will be over flooded. The world is now struggling with 60 million refugees seeking a safe place to live somewhere. Many more will look for shelter as climate refugees in the future if the governments of this earth fail to make the right decisions now. That is why climate policy today is the refugee policy of the future.

The injustice of the present situation is evident. Will we have the strength to draw the conclusion and radically transform the way we organize the global economy? Will we rediscover life and learn to live in a way reconcilable with the integrity of creation?

As Christians we confess God as the creator of heaven and earth and Christ who has shown us the way to live. As religious people we know that we will have to give account for how we live. As human beings we want a future for ourselves and for our children and their children as we know that we will never have this future against non human nature but only together with it.

Let us work together in the spirit of what Dietrich Bonhoeffer has expressed in his Letters and Papers from Prison: "It is true that there is a silly, cowardly kind of optimism, which we must condemn. But the optimism that is will for the future should never be despised, even if it is proved wrong a hundred times … It may be that the day of judgment will dawn tomorrow; in that case we will gladly stop working for a better future. But not before."