Zagreb, (IKA) – On October 18, at the 53rd session of the Senate of the Catholic University of Croatia, it was unanimously decided to award an honorary doctorate to the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, President of the International Theological Commission, President of the Pontifical Biblical Commission and President of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller. The first honorary doctorate awarded by the Catholic University of Croatia was conferred upon Cardinal Müller on Wednesday, November 9, at a ceremonial session of the Senate of the Catholic University of Croatia at the Archdiocesan Pastoral Institute in Zagreb. The program opened with a prayer by Cardinal Josip Bozanić and a performance of Mozart’s Dona nobis pacem and the Croatian national anthem by the Mixed Choir of Students of the Catholic University of Croatia.
In opening remarks, the Rector of the Catholic University of Croatia, Prof. Dr. Željko Tanjić, thanked and greeted those whose presence enhanced the celebration, particularly distinguished representatives of Croatian political, religious and scientific institutions, including the delegate from the President of the Republic of Croatia, Dr. Mate Granić; the delegate from the Prime Minister of the Republic of Croatia, the Minister of Science, Education and Sports, Prof. Dr. Pavo Barišić; the President of the Croatian Rectors’ Conference, Prof. Dr. Šimun Anđelinović, and the entire Croatian Rectors’ Conference.
Rector Tanjić said that the Catholic University of Croatia is comparatively small and young, and is only celebrating its tenth anniversary. However, with the support of Grand Chancellor Cardinal Josip Bozanić, it was decided to commemorate this anniversary by awarding the university’s first honorary doctorate to Cardinal Müller. “To be a member of the International Theological Commission is an honor and joy,” said Rector Tanjić, and continued: “When we first gathered at the general session in December 2014, I was deeply touched by the fraternal atmosphere, the organization of work and the openness of the free discussion among the theologians. Much of the credit for this goes to the President of the Commission, soon to be our honorary doctor, who leads and oversees the work of the Commission with great attention, unobtrusively listening to the discussions and various arguments. Calmly and with great theological skill, he sometimes participates in the discussions, taking care not to leave the impression that his word is binding or has greater importance than our positions and deliberations. In informal encounters, he takes interest in our work, the situations in our local Churches, our universities and our personal efforts. Therefore, I am more than happy and grateful that Cardinal Müller is our first honorary doctor,” said Rector Tanjić, thanking him as follows: “Your Eminence, thank you for accepting our invitation and our decision and agreeing to be the first honorary doctor of our young and small university. You have done us a great honor and shown us that the great can help the small to grow in knowledge as well as in faith, love and hope.”
The distinguished assembly was then addressed by the Grand Chancellor of the Catholic University of Croatia, Cardinal Josip Bozanić. Finding many links between the Catholic University of Croatia, as well as the Croatian being, with Cardinal Müller, Cardinal Bozanić thanked the honorary doctor as follows: “Cardinal Müller’s homeland is Germany, a country where many Croats live, which during times of great afflictions and persecutions became a second home and, especially through the Church community, facilitated profound cooperation and mutual familiarity between the two nations within the same Christian culture. Cardinal Müller knows the Croatian soul and the strength we need to restore the hope so necessary to Croatia and Europe. (…) As the University is awarding you recognition, from your side, with your arrival here you have conferred an honor upon us. May you be accompanied by the power of God’s Spirit, the wisdom of the True Light, the intercession of Blessed Cardinal Alojzije Stepinac, and the prayers of the faithful of the Archdiocese of Zagreb and the whole Church in Croatia!”
Prof. Dr. Emilio Marin said that it was a particular honor for him as the President of the Commission of the Catholic University of Croatia, whose members are Msgr. Dr. Ivan Šaško, Prof. Emeritus. Dr. Karl Heinz Menke, Prof. Dr. Hrvoje Štefančić and Prof. Dr. Anton Tamarut, to be given the role of the promoter of the first doctor honoris causa of the CUC, and to deliver the laudatio, in which he spoke about the cardinal’s rich and fruitful scientific career.
This was followed by the awarding of the honorary doctorate to Cardinal Müller, the reading of the diploma, the presentation of the insignia and the entry of the cardinal’s name into the Book of Honorary Doctorates of the Catholic University of Croatia.
Cardinal Müller was congratulated in speeches by the Minister of Science and Education, Prof. Dr. Pavo Barišić, and the President of the Rectors’ Conference, Prof. Dr. Šimun Anđelinović, both of whom expressed their pleasure that Cardinal Müller had been chosen as the first honorary doctor of the Catholic University of Croatia.
After Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller received his honorary doctorate, he expressed his gratitude and delivered his lectio magistralis entitled The Question of God Today. He spoke about the satisfaction with which he received this honorary doctorate, precisely in Zagreb, as a successor to the office once held by the distinguished Cardinal Franjo Šeper, who from 1968 to 1981, at a very tumultuous time of great philosophical and theological changes, was the first Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and placed his office completely under lux vera, which is also the guiding principle of the Catholic University of Croatia. “With gratitude to Cardinal Josip Bozanić, successor to Cardinal Šeper as the Archbishop of Zagreb and Grand Chancellor of this university, it is my wish for you, the rector, as well as all the professors, teachers and students of this university, to always bear in mind that unifying source and one goal of our humanity in your scientific pursuits in various branches of the professions, so that in fruitful dialogue with all people of every culture and language, you may light anew the lux vera, the true light, for the people of our days,” concluded Cardinal Müller.
All the participants in the conferring of the honorary doctorate of the Catholic University of Croatia to Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller received a commemorative booklet in which, among other things, are the cardinal’s profound philosophical and theological reflections about God today, challenges to the person, and God in the contemporary world, which concludes as follows: “The question of God for the people of today is certainly an intellectual challenge but even more so an existential challenge. With regard to death, faith stands before the final examination. The response by Cardinal Alojzije Stepinac, when his episcopal confrères suggested that he send President Tito of Yugoslavia a request for parole based on health considerations, could serve us as a shining example. The cardinal’s answer was as follows: ‘You remember that Marshall Tito has said on many occasions that while he is here, I shall not be in Zagreb. The Marshall is under the illusion that I mourn greatly for Zagreb. I am not the least drawn by a desire for Zagreb or for any position whatsoever. My only ambition in this world is to endure until the end and die in the grace of God.'”
Cardinal Müller also celebrated Mass that day at the Zagreb cathedral in honor of Blessed Alojzije Stepinac. Afterwards, there was a presentation of the Croatian edition of his book The Hope of the Family: A Dialogue with Gerhard Cardinal Müller (Razgovor o nadi), organized by the publishing house Verbum in the Vijenac Auditorium of the Archdiocesan Pastoral Institute.