German Cardinal Reinhard Marx called November 19 for a “new era of Christianity to speak of God” as he received an honorary doctorate in Paris.

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66-year-old Marx, President of the German Bishops’ Conference and one of Pope Francis’ closest advisers as Coordinator of the Vatican Council for the Economy, received Tuesday night an honorary doctorate from the Institut Catholique de Paris (ICP), according to La Croix.

Marx, who is also the Archbishop of Munich and Freising, said he was “very honored and moved” to receive the distinction.

He added that ever since studying at the ICP for a year during his seminary studies, in 1975, “France has been a companion in my life”.

The award was given to Marx on the occasion of the 130th anniversary of the ICP’s Faculty of Theology.

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Chancellor of the ICP and Archbishop of Paris, Michel Aupetit, said the nod to Marx was a sign of the “reconciliation” between France and Germany, “beyond the divisions of history”, but also a sign of “unity in faith”.

Theology Faculty Dean Father Jean-Louis Souletie added that Marx deserved the honorary doctorate for being “a man of the Church, a man of freedom and a European”.

“You are a convinced and convincing initiator within the Church”, Souletie told Marx, praising the cardinal for initiating the German Church’s ‘binding synodal path’, since “synodality is a necessity for the march of the contemporary Church”.

Monsignor Philippe Bordeyne, rector of the ICP, also thanked Marx for helping the Church not to fear “the serious questions of our time”.

Why it matters

Accepting the doctorate, Marx gave a keynote speech with the topic “Liberty, equality, fraternity: A Catholic response”.

While there was a time when that motto of the French Republic was for him personally a “paradigm of modern Western society”, it is now more like a “new concern for the future”, the cardinal said.

“Today’s growing unrest and insecurity are the social, economic, political and ecological consequences of unlimited capitalism”, Marx explained.

He added that, faced with those realities, the Church must open a “new era of Christianity” and return to its social doctrine to “master capitalism”, so as to ensure a “more integral” development and progress for all.

‘Liberty, equality, fraternity’ is only “valid” as a system if it means “a responsible freedom, an equality of all in dignity within our common home”, Marx said.

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