Hans Vocking has been intensively involved with Islam (mosque in Frankfurt a.M.) © DmitriyRazinkov (shutterstock)
Born in 1940 in Gronau, the Islamic scholar and religious Hans Vocking is considered a promoter of Christian dialogue. He has also often been a critical heckler in debates about Islam.
The Catholic religious, North Africa expert and longtime promoter of Christian-Islamic dialogue, P. Hans Vocking, turns 80 on Saturday. He is one of the most prominent experts on Islam in the Catholic Church in Germany. After joining the Order of African Missionaries ("White Fathers"), Vocking studied Arabic and Islamic Studies in Algeria and Rome from 1970 onwards.
Expert on interreligious dialogue
For 20 years, starting in 1978, Hans Vocking directed the Christian-Islamic Encounter and Documentation Center (CIBEDO), which was newly founded in Frankfurt by the White Fathers. It promotes – since 1998 as a specialized agency of the German Bishops' Conference – the interreligious dialogue of Christians and Muslims. From 1998, Vocking taught at the Pontifical Institute for Arabic Studies in Rome. In 2002, the Commission of the Bishops' Conferences of the European Community called him to Brussels as an advisor and expert on Christian-Islamic dialogue. The religious has lived in Cologne since 2013.
Critical heckler in Islam debates
Vocking also repeatedly commented on German debates about Islam and integration. In 2016, for example, he criticized the Greens' opposition to the classification of the Maghreb countries Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco as safe countries of origin. He said there is no systematic persecution in the three countries, including of homosexuals. Therefore, the concern of the German government is completely justified, Vocking said in June 2016. The transfer of the western culture of freedom to countries with completely different traditions is misleading. "If you go by that, most of the world must be considered unsafe."