Grand Cross for bishop Samiec
On 24 May 2018, at the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany, Ambassador Rolf Nikel handed bishop Jerzy Samiec, the presiding bishop of the Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession in Poland, the Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany. Bishop had been awarded by Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier in recognition of his contribution to the Polish-German reconciliation and to transnational cooperation between churches. The Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany is the only federal decoration of Germany.
Thanking for the award, bishop Samiec pointed out that he treated it as a commendation for Polish Lutheran Church for nurturing friendly and partner relationships with brothers and sisters in the partner churches in Germany.
The Presiding bishop in his speech mentioned the challenges that faced previous generations in the context of fights for independence and wars. "Abducted by World War II, wounded by tragedies that took place then, that generation was looking for a way to live after all that happened (...) That generation had to seek mutual forgiveness, as well as paths of reconciliation, building these paths of reconciliation. It is important that these roads had been built".
Bishop Samiec talked also about the challenges that present generation has been facing. He stressed out that "we should fight for peace, for maintaining partner relations that have been built with such effort and that can be so easily destroyed by various irresponsible statements and moves. We must fight for friendship between nations”. Bishop Samiec said that we should fight against xenophobia and the revival nationalism, fight against exclusion of people, and work on creating an open society and an open church.
He added that as a generation we have to take up the challenge and ask ourselves what are those who flee, refugees, but also migrant workers. We should also look humbly at ourselves, because many Poles have emigrated from Poland for profit. Today's generation should also pay attention to millions of those who starve and experience various forms of modern slavery. Bishop stated that "as Christians we undertake these tasks in the name of Jesus Christ, because he ordered us to love all people first and not exclude anyone."
He encouraged people to act in their own communities, seeking opportunities to respond to words and deeds of hatred that come to the fore when hate speech arises. Bishop Samiec ended his reflection with the question "what are we going to leave to our children and grandchildren: a world that will be divided or maybe a world in which people will live in peace and prosperity. A lot depends on our attitudes and on us”.