10 years of International Understanding Study. The Chair of Practical Philosophy with a focus on International Understanding at the Munich School of Philosophy will celebrate its 10th anniversary in 2020. On the occasion of the anniversary, the chair holder Prof. Dr. Michael Reder will discuss "Islam and Religious Freedom" with Prof. Dr. Katajun Amirpur (Cologne) and Prof. Dr. Heiner Bielefeldt (Erlangen) on January 8. We spoke with Professor Reder about the work of the chair, the importance of international understanding in political philosophy and dangers for democracy. Professor Reder, 10 years ago you took over the Chair of Practical Philosophy with a focus on international understanding. How has your research changed during this time? A lot has happened in the past ten years, especially in a global perspective. One can think, for example, of the many conflicts and wars, the flight of millions of people worldwide, the rise of right-wing populism, or the intense debate about the consequences of climate change. All these developments shape the debate on global interrelationships and are therefore more than relevant for the research and teaching of my chair. From the very beginning, the aim of the chair has been to philosophically reflect global developments. On the one hand, this involves appropriate descriptions and the search for convincing terms to describe the changed forms of global coexistence. On the other hand, it also deals with normative and political issues. In this respect, the chair asks, for example, about successful forms of living together. My research has become both more concrete and more general in recent years. More concrete, because I am looking more and more closely at individual global phenomena. More general, because I am increasingly asking how philosophy in its reflections can really do justice to global dynamics. What role does the topic of international understanding currently play in practical philosophy? International understanding was and is not a genuine philosophical concept. The term originates from the post-war period and the concrete search for forms of peaceful coexistence beyond cultural or political rifts. This search in the face of global conflict situations is becoming increasingly important today within practical philosophy. The question of democracy in a globalised world, the order of the world economy, the legitimation of state action in the face of permeable borders - all these are questions that are gaining enormously in importance today. For example, I am currently jointly responsible for a major project on transnational practices of solidarity in the field of migration, European integration and the global textile industry. As different as the subject areas may be, philosophy can be used to show what they have in common, both ethically and politically, and what possible forms of design can take. Islam and its significance in politics and society remains a central theme. This topic has also become particularly explosive due to increased migration. The debate about Islam today is often a crucial issue in Western societies. It is striking that many contributions often present a very undifferentiated picture of Islam. Islamist fundamentalism, political Islam and cultural secular Islam are often not separated but lumped together. This often has disastrous consequences, even when it comes to the topic of migration. What role does political philosophy play in these discussions? Political philosophy can help to draw a differentiated picture. This makes it possible to see the most diverse groups and dynamics that shape the globalized world, even within cultural groups such as Islam. It is only on this basis that a convincing ethical reflection can begin and then be asked how we want to shape the world politically. Political philosophy is of course first and foremost an academic discipline. Especially when it begins to spell out the basic questions of solidarity or democracy globally, it does justice to the current situation. This is a great challenge, because despite its orientation towards the universal, philosophy in the 20th century often thought in terms of nation states. But political philosophy is always also a public matter. That is why I also see myself as a public actor who, on the one hand, interferes in social debates and, on the other hand, seeks cooperation partners who pursue the same goal of international understanding. What does such cooperation actually look like? At the moment, for example, I am planning a project between art and philosophy, together with the artist Lia Sáile and whiteBOX. The intervention EASTERN MUNICH deals with the topics interculturality and interreligiousness in the city of Munich. For this purpose, the floor plans of various past, present and future religious buildings from Munich are projected onto Wittelsbacheplatz in Munich in large-scale video projections. By superimposing the projections and sliding them into one another, the floor plans become not only visible but also "accessible" through their disclosure, thus enabling virtual border crossings. This is practical international understanding, in which, among other things, art and philosophy can be fertilized. What are your plans for the coming years with the chair? Global networking has only just begun. To that extent, the plans are correspondingly diverse. Specifically, I'm working on larger publications to represent future generations and on another on global solidarity as a form of international understanding.
Dresden - After 77 years, 23 books confiscated by the National Socialists return to HohenEichen. "In February of this year I received an e-mail with the subject 'NS-Raubgut'", says Wilfried Dettling SJ, director of the retreat house HohenEichen. He almost deleted the message. Nadine Kulbe of the Saxon State Library - Dresden State and University Library (SLUB) informed him that the SLUB was in possession of books which had been stolen by the National Socialists and which could clearly be assigned to the House of HohenEichen as the owner. These 23 books were now to be "restituted" to the Jesuits. What is Nazi looting? For the legal concept of "cultural assets seized due to Nazi persecution" the term "(NS)-robbery" has established itself. In addition to art collections, books were also affected whose robbery was frighteningly perfectly organized from the very beginning, as recent research has shown. The search for books is difficult: individual collections were often torn apart and distributed to different libraries, where they were incorporated into the holdings without any indication of their origin. Today, the traces in the books themselves are often the only indications of their previous owners, of their "provenance", for example through seals and stamps. There is no legal obligation to conduct research into the loot of public institutions in Germany. However, institutions such as the SLUB have made it their task to check their holdings for loot on the basis of various declarations. These include the "Washington Principles" of 1998 (principles of the Washington Conference with regard to works of art confiscated by the National Socialists) and the "Joint Declaration" of 1999 (Joint Declaration - Declaration of the Federal Government, the Länder and the central communal associations on the discovery and return of cultural property seized as a result of Nazi persecution, in particular from Jewish property). Provenance research at the SLUB Since September 2017, the SLUB has been carrying out a project to identify Nazi loot, sponsored by the Stiftung Deutsches Zentrum Kulturgutverluste (German Centre for the Loss of Cultural Property). Nadine Kulbe is one of the project staff members and succeeded in identifying the books from the HohenEichen library, as she explained at a press conference on the occasion of the "Restitution", the return of the 23 books. The books bear a stamp with the inscription "Xaveriushaus Hosterwitz", after the co-founder of the Jesuit Order, St. Franz Xaver, patron saint of Haus HohenEichen. The SLUB does not regard itself as the owner of the objects in its inventory in the case of proven Nazi looting and endeavours to return them to the owners. From HohenEichen to the SLUB and back again Since 1940 the Secret State Police (Gestapo) observed the Jesuit retreat house on the Elbe slope in Hosterwitz. In May 1941 the Gestapo confiscated the house and the Jesuits had to leave HohenEichen. House and property were expropriated in January 1942 as "property of enemies of the Reich" and HohenEichen served afterwards as home school of the Hitler youth. A quantity of books from the library of Haus HohenEichen, which can no longer be precisely quantified today, was given to the Saxon State Library by the Gestapo in 1942 as a gift. Of these, only 23 survived the bombing of Dresden in February 1945; the remainder were burnt in the Japanese Palais, the former seat of the State Library. After the end of the Second World War, the Jesuit Order received back the expropriated real estate in Dresden-Hosterwitz and since then has run the house again as a retreat house. But the books remained in the possession of the Saxon State Library (now SLUB) - until they could be identified in 2019 within the framework of provenance research and handed over as a "beautiful conclusion" to an elaborate work in HohenEichen. The return of the books is a "great pleasure" for the SLUB, according to Nadine Kulbe. The majority of the books are from the 18th century, the oldest being dated 1616. Even though their material value is low, they are still of great non-material value. They are spiritual books, but also travelogues are included - and a copy of the holy legend book, in which Ignatius of Loyola read on his sickbed.
5 December is the World Volunteer Day. Examples of how volunteering can contribute to building more inclusive, sustainable and just societies are provided by the voluntary services of the international Jesuit Xavier Network, including our Jesuit Volunteers (JV) program. Democracies in crisis, growing social tensions throughout the world: Chile, Bolivia, Haiti, Syria, Lebanon, Nicaragua are just a few examples of a worrying global development that can also be felt in Europe, be it through new poverty, a drifting apart of society or "hate speech" in social media. In the midst of all these problems, International Voluntary Service is more important than ever to contribute to building a committed global civilian population. An international Voluntary Service connects people from different places, life realities and cultures, promotes the reduction of prejudices and the appreciation of diversity; helps to develop values, skills and attitudes that are indispensable for building an egalitarian and peaceful world; contributes to an understanding of global dynamics and unjust structures; promotes a conscious commitment to a more just society and a simple and sustainable lifestyle; makes a valuable contribution in the locations where it is used: In a mutual relationship, characterised by proximity and trust, a learning process is set in motion on both sides; contribute to achieving the UN's sustainable development goals and promote global partnerships. Over 900 people have volunteered for the German-language Jesuit missions in recent decades, formerly as European Volunteers (JEV) and Jesuit Mission Volunteers (JMV), and since 2012 as Jesuit Volunteers (JV). Currently 20 volunteers are working in Africa, India, Southeast Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe. The updated website jesuit-volunteers.org https://www.jesuit-volunteers.org/startseite provides insights into the Jesuit Volunteers programme, information about volunteer positions, activities and experiences on site as well as the application process
In the Catholic Church many wish for a gesture of power. A decision that finally changes everything. But that's not how it will be, says Father Bernd Hagenkord SJ, one of the two spiritual companions for the Synodal Way. Instead, a lot of patience is needed. What will we gain from this? Over two years several hundred Catholics sit together on the synodal way, in theme groups and in assemblies, but what is to be expected is not yet completely clear. The synodal way begins the 1st Sunday of Advent. But because it is not clear what exactly it will be, it is not yet clear. That is a problem. Because it is not clear, there is little interest. Many opinions, many wise advices, many warnings, but not yet a clear perspective. There is, for example, criticism of the non-binding nature of the synod, a proper canonical synod would be better. Because binding. This would put a source of uncertainty aside. The synodal way begins But weaknesses can also be strengths. In the past weeks I was allowed to spend more time on it, I will be one of the two spiritual companions of the process. Of course, it would also be easier for me to have a clear target. But I also see the opportunity, which lies in the rather strenuous because indeterminate procedure. It has something to do with loosening knots. Bishops and laity have decided together to go a common synodal way, initiated by the bishops after the MHG study. But because it is not clear how exactly the individual problem complexes can and should and may be dealt with, perhaps the open form is better. Because it is possible to speak openly without aiming at the goal. Loosening knots Of course I quoted the removal of knots with the reference to the painting shown above. Untying knots needs patience. You can't do that, you shouldn't remind them, because it quickly comes across as overdone. But nevertheless, a good amount of it is necessary. Not to move things. But for the sake of care. Before the first meeting of the spiritual companions in Augsburg I was in the church of St. Peter and meditated on the "Maria Knotenlöserin". Those who want to loosen knots are badly advised with hectic. Precisely because it doesn't help. Stubborn patience, however, continues. Some may encounter the temptation to reach for the sword to cut the Gordian knot. This story is quoted in the Knot Remover. Unfortunately, we have already heard many requests to speak that sound like power. Strangely enough, even from people who have nothing to do with it at all. But power does not help. Power does not get the process ahead To be a Christian means to go out from one's own weakness, not from strength. Finally, this deeply Christian insight was described by Pope Francis in his letter Gaudete et Exsultate. He uses metaphors of struggle, that's right, but it's not the all-decisive struggle of the superheroes, but actually the struggle against the knots. And that's exactly how he interpreted the picture of the knot loosener, in a small audience for collaborators in which he did that I was allowed to be there, that's how he explained the picture. And then there will be a spiritual process out of it. About patience. Yes, that means uncertain expectations. Perhaps that cannot be avoided at the moment. My confrere Father Stefan Kiechle puts it in a nutshell: "A spiritual process presupposes that all those who participate enter indifferently; this key word of Ignatian spirituality means at first open-ended, but still deeper: so free from personal preferences, prejudices, preconceptions that one can listen completely to the spirit that perhaps wants to work completely new. Such a process must take place in a shielded way so that it is not manipulated by lobbyists, power fighters and doctrinaire structure keepers - they are not indifferent and do not want to be. There must be no veto rights. "Spiritual process" also means that all participants pay attention with frankness and honesty to the "impulses", i.e. to spiritual thoughts, feelings and moods, and that by distinguishing between comfort and desolation they discover where the spirit leads them." The process must be shielded It's got all the odds and all the dangers in it. The synodal path does not begin shielded. It can't do that either, it shouldn't. But this is a problem for the participants, who always have to consider the public impact of their statements wisely. The challenge will be to be able to think and listen with an open mind under these conditions. This requires patience, which I mean by knot loosening. Then the weakness of unclear expectations is perhaps a help, precisely because it is open. What will we gain from this? That will prove to be the case. We cannot define that beforehand. Painting of Our Lady removing knots: St. Peters Church, Augsburg
As an innovative pastoral project, the online format of young German-speaking Jesuits "One Minute Homily" has been awarded the Bonifatius Prize. The “Bonifatiuswerk” (from the name of Saint Boniface, "The Apostle of the Germans") of German Catholics awards the prize for missionary projects every three years as part of the Opening of its annual Campaign. The motto of this year's Campaign was: "Adventure Faith. Discoverer wanted". With the "One Minute Homilies", the young German-speaking Jesuits bring the Gospel of the Day to the point in one minute on Sundays and church holidays. In short video clips they translate the message of the biblical text into the everyday world of the people in understandable language. For the prominent jury around Bishop Peter Kohlgraf (Mainz), this was one reason why the video format was able to assert itself among the 220 entries. "With your weekly impulses you again find a place for the message of Jesus in the language of the people, also for people who are outside the church, but are nevertheless searching for spiritual fulfilment", Bishop Kohlgraf, as a member of the jury, explains the decision for the first prize. "The initiators courageously leave the usual church environment and show how the Gospel can be proclaimed in a pluralistic and differentiated society in a contemporary way". The jury also included the Federal Minister Julia Klöckner, the Bishop of Mainz Prof. Dr. Peter Kohlgraf, the journalist and presenter Gundula Gause, the President of The Alliance of the German Catholic Youth (BDKJ) Lisi Maier, the Franciscan Sr. Maria Magdalena Jardin (Münster-Mauritz), Prelate Erich Läufer (Köln) and the General Secretary of the Bonifatiuswerk, Monsignor Georg Austen. The prize was awarded on  November 3rd parallel to the opening of the Opening of the annual Campaign in Mainz. German Scholastic Dag Heinrichowski SJ (actually studying in Paris) brought the project from America to the German-speaking provinces of Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Together with Jonas Linz SJ and Pia Dyckmans, Public Relations Officer of the German Jesuit Province, he accepted the prize for the team of young Jesuits. "It was quite a surprise when I received a call from Paderborn. The award is a great appreciation and recognition for our project and makes us very happy. It is good to know that we are supported! At the same time, the award encourages us to try even harder to leave the Catholic filter bubble," said Dag Heinrichowski SJ. The Bonifatius Prize is endowed with 3,000 Euros and honours the commitment of people who pass on faith in a committed and extraordinary way in their Catholic parishes, in institutions and associations or as individuals.
“The ecology tagline: The system debate is not over." With this statement Cardinal Reinhard Marx, Archbishop of Munich and Freising, coined the two-day conference "Integral Ecology in the Digital Age" at the Munich University of Philosophy. A striving for progress, which defines prosperity only through material prosperity, endangers the cohesion of many societies and the future of the entire planet. Concepts such as capitalism or socialism were no longer helpful and, according to Marx, belonged "in the archives of history" - a new idea of progress was necessary for this, in which not only ecology but also human "culture, identity, one's own self-confidence and the dignity of the human being" had a special significance. But what could such an idea of progress look like? In order to pursue this question, the Pontifical Foundation "Centesimus Annus Pro Pontifice", the the Hochschule für Philosophie and the network "European Liberal Education Alliance" invited top-class representatives from science, business, politics and society to an intensive exchange of ideas. Father Bernd Hagenkord SJ, former head of the German department of Radio Vatican, who now accompanies the synodal path of the German Bishops' Conference, provided important impulses: according to Hagenkord, this process is also an example of the application of the encyclical Laudato Si'. "Conversion" is a key term of Pope Francis' doctrine: "Conversion" as refusal of ecclesiastical, social or economic fantasies of omnipotence - but also a refusal of a leisurely continuation-so! The basic prerequisite for this is an open and appreciative dialogue: "and one cannot dispose of a dialogue, one has to get involved with it". This was also underlined by the education expert Barbara Schellhammer, recently the first professor at the Hochschule für Philosophie and head of the Centre for Global Issues, and Sascha Spoun, President of Leuphana University Lüneburg.  The refusal of many populists to engage in discourse is particularly dangerous, as they do not address individual concrete mistakes, for example in climate protection measures, but declare their discussion partner a liar: "They want to destroy social discourse because they do not master it". But education is not only an "acquisition of knowledge and abilities", it also means an equally active "leaving behind and letting go" of prejudices and half-truths, added Friedrich Bechina, who as Undersecretary of the Education Congregation is jointly responsible for more than 220,000 Catholic schools worldwide. The host of the event, University President Johannes Wallacher, underlined that an appropriate CO2 tax, which was demanded by numerous participants, was a central element of such framework conditions and made it clear: the pricing of carbon dioxide was not a tax, but a necessary compensation, which makes the damage potential of climate gases visible where they arise To ensure that the important idea of an integral ecology does not become a "non-binding broadband concept", as the social ethicist Markus Vogt warned, the interdisciplinary and social discourse is of enormous importance, a special guest from the Vatican underlined: Cardinal Peter Turkson, prefect of the "Dicastery for the Holistic Development of Man" created by Pope Francis. Peter Cardinal Turkson was born the son of a simple miner in a mining settlement in Ghana. Now he is conducting talks in the Vatican with oil companies and mining companies in order to involve them in the necessary dialogue - because everyone is called upon to turn back and to support the necessary socio-ecological change.  Stefan Einsiedel (Center for Global Issues, Environment / Postal Growth Project)