Reverend Han, Your Grace Bishop Kruse, Your Eminence Cardinal Sterzinsky, Dr. von Habsburg, Sir John and Lady Templeton, Ladies and Gentlemen.
Through the great American tradition of philanthropy, it has become possible to honour achievements in the religious field by the award of a prize.
Many people may ask themselves what status religion really enjoys in our enlightened society. Science and technology have given rise to high living standards, at least in some parts of the world, but such living standards are not everything. Many humans beings experience spiritual deprivation, in the wealthy West just as much as, for example, in Russia, where after the collapse of socialism millions are returning to the faith.
It is not my intention to enter into further speculation here about metaphysical needs. Yet it is beyond question that technical and scientific advances must be accompanied by moral progress. In the modern world, enlightened industrial societies desperately need the development of a moral and religious awareness.
Sir John Templeton, to whom I should like to offer a most sincere welcome, did not merely realise this many years ago-he also acted on his insight. By endowing a prize he provided a basis on which works in the service of religion-religious works in the service of humanity- could receive recognition.
Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker, who was awarded the Templeton Prize three years ago, once remarked: “It is not the Church’s job to change the world. But if the Church does its job, the world changes.”
Through his works, Reverend Han has changed his native land Korea. By establishing a Presbyterian congregation in South Korea he provided a spiritual home for many thousands of Koreans, a place of inner retreat and a source of strength. And he has so interpreted his duty as a Christian that to many in suffering and in need of help, help could indeed be brought.
More than a thousand years ago, so it is thought, the theologian St. Augustine said that believing is considering the invisible to be true. The example of Reverend Han proves that the power of belief can achieve highly visible results, in the shape of kindergartens and schools, health facilities and food donations.
Works in the service of belief, as the life of the man we are honouring today shows, can transcend borders- both those within ourselves and those without. The fact that Reverend Han is being honoured here in Berlin for such works represents, on the one hand, a recognition of his personal achievements.
On the other hand, the choice of location for the prize-giving will, for many, also represent an expression of hope. For Korea and Germany are linked by a similarity in their respective post-war histories, by the experience of the world’s two ugliest, most evil borders. Indeed, Reverend Han will himself have been aware of that when he visited our city in 1966.
Today, as the recipient of this prize, he stands for a Christianity which places the highest value on the individual’s responsibility for society as a whole. The Templeton Prize stands for “progress in religion”. At this moment Berlin, the site of this year’s presentation, stands above all for an end to divisions in the world and for a process of growing together. Yet I should also like to recall its association with the concept of religious tolerance which is so closely linked to the person of Frederick the Great of Prussia, and with his royal seat of Berlin.
It is a great pleasure for me to welcome to Berlin guests from the United States. That this prize should be presented in Berlin is a symbol of the interest in, and sympathy for our city which so many Americans feel and, I hope will continue to feel in the future.
The achievement of German unity has been a very happy moment in the country’s history. Today there are signs that Korea too will see an end to its division. However impermeable borders may be, they cannot destroy the feeling of belonging together. I know that I share with our prizewinner the hope that Koreans will not continue to be denied what Germans were able to achieve two years ago.