The Bishop of Coventry has received one of Germany's highest awards in recognition of his peace and reconciliation work.
The Right Reverend Dr Christopher Cocksworth was presented with the Commander’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany, by the German Ambassador to the UK, Andreas Michaelis in a special ceremony yesterday. It was conferred upon him by Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier.
Coventry has become a symbol of peace and reconciliation between Germany and the United Kingdom after the Second World War. The city was bombed by the German Luftwaffe during the war and in November 1940, the city centre was largely destroyed, including St. Michael’s Cathedral.
Since the end of the war, Coventry and its cathedral have done much to promote not only reconciliation between Germans and Britons, but also peace around the world.
During the award ceremony, Ambassador Michaelis thanked Bishop Christopher for his tireless efforts in the name of reconciliation between Germany and the United Kingdom. He said:
"You are an outstanding bridge-builder, an ardent champion of reconciliation and peace, and a staunch and inspirational campaigner against prejudice and injustice.
"This accolade represents one of the highest distinctions the Federal Republic of Germany can confer upon individuals.
"You have nurtured the spiritual legacy of reconciliation through your very close ties with Germany as well as your inspiring dedication to Coventry's twinnings with Kiel and Dresden and to the Community of the Cross of Nails."
In response, Bishop Christopher said:
"It is a very great joy for me to receive this honour from the Federal Republic of Germany. I receive it with thanksgiving for the part that the people of Coventry have played – through the work of the Cathedral, the City Council and a host of other institutional and personal relationships – in the long road to lasting reconciliation between nations that once fought each other in two world wars.
"I have had the pleasure of meeting a number of Presidents of Germany over my years as Bishop of Coventry and I have a particular respect for President Steinmeier, and I am also grateful for the kindness, hospitality and support of Ambassador Michaelis. I look forward to working for the deepening of relationships between the UK and Germany through Coventry Cathedral, and the International Community of the Cross of Nails."