Professor with “visionary power”

Professor with 'visionary power'

The moral theologian Eberhard Schockenhoff passed away on Saturday. Schockenhoff was a longtime member of the German Ethics Council. He was primarily concerned with questions of bioethics and the life sciences and participated in the Synodal Way.

Theologian Eberhard Schockenhoff is dead. This was confirmed by the Faculty of Theology at the University of Freiburg. The 67-year-old died Saturday in Freiburg as a result of an accident.

Schockenhoff was one of the most renowned theologians and ethicists in Germany. For a long time he was a member of the German Ethics Council. In Freiburg he held the chair of moral theology. Schockenhoff was a particularly sought-after expert in the field of life sciences and bioethics.

DBK and ZdK pay tribute to Schockenhoff

The German Bishops' Conference and the Central Committee of German Catholics (ZdK) have paid tribute to the late theologian. The chairman of the Bishops' Conference, Bishop Georg Batzing, on Sunday praised Schockenhoff's "visionary power in his theological research and speeches as well as his remarkable analytical brilliance". ZdK President Thomas Sternberg expressed "high esteem and deeply felt gratitude".

Batzing emphasized that Schockenhoff never taught with a raised forefinger or thought in categories of prohibition. The bishop described Schockenhoff's complete scientific work "as a moral theology that serves humanity". Sternberg also said Schockenhoff had developed a timely sexual morality "that people understood". Schockenhoff's thinking, he said, was anchored in the present but not opposed to the traditions of the Church.

Appreciations from church and politics

The Archbishop of Freiburg Stephan Burger expressed his concern. Schockenhoff had been connected to the archdiocese in many ways, he said. "The Archdiocese of Freiburg and the Catholic Faculty are deeply indebted to him. With him we lose a committed and esteemed theologian and priest."

Rottenburg Bishop Gebhard Furst called Schockenhoff one of the most distinguished moral theologians and social ethicists. He has influenced the social discourse on bioethical and medical ethics ies. Furst paid tribute to the Rottenburg diocesan priest as a priest and scientist "for whom honesty and authenticity and the question of conscience always took precedence over economic or political interests".

Ruhr Bishop Franz-Josef Overbeck said on Monday that the scientist had written critically and in a way that was appropriate to the situation –
always thinking loyally with the Church – knew how to speak out. "His theology was based on the foundation of a comprehensive and
Schockenhoff's "knowledge of the tradition of our church, which he kept alive in a rational manner in various contemporary discourses, as is still the case today in the face of major challenges in medical ethics," said the Bishop of Essen.

Baden-Wurttemberg's Minister President Winfried Kretschmann (Greens) paid tribute to Schockenhoff as an influential theologian. His contributions to ecclesiastical and social debates are characterized by "visionary ideas".

Faculty Day: "Not a comfortable, but always a competent interlocutor"

With great consternation and sadness, the president of the Catholic Theological Faculty Day (KThF), Johanna Rahner, has reacted to the death of her colleague Eberhard Schockenhoff. Schockenhoff's death is not only a great loss for German scientific theology, but for society as a whole, Rahner said on Sunday.

Schockenhoff was perceived and taken seriously as one of the most renowned theologians of his generation, even outside his discipline. "Eberhard Schockenhoff was not a comfortable, but always a competent interlocutor."

In Catholic ethics, the Freiburg scientist had opened many doors and advanced Catholic sexual morality, according to Rahner. As examples, she cited the topics of sexuality and abuse, as well as the treatment of women in his church. For the inner-Catholic discussion process Synodal Way, in which Schockenhoff had been involved in the Forum Sexuality, his death was a catastrophe.

Theologian Striet pays tribute to Schockenhoff

The Freiburg theologian Magnus Striet paid tribute to his colleague Eberhard Schockenhoff, who died over the weekend, as an excellent scientist whose arguments were heard in politics and society. For example, in biopolitical debates, Schockenhoff always advocated "not simply sacrificing ethical principles to economic benefit calculations," Striet said Monday on Deutschlandfunk radio (DLF).

Schockenhoff's strength was also to always remain curious for new social and scientific developments and to use well-founded criticism or new arguments for his thinking, Striet said. "Also his attitude, according to which theology should never be abstract debate, but a theology close to man, will remain."

In internal church discussions – for example, in the area of sexual morality or in the discussion about remarried divorcees – Schockenhoff was concerned with "moving forward and reconsidering historically grown positions when they are no longer tenable," said Striet.

Schockenhoff: priest and professor

Born in Stuttgart in 1953, Eberhard Schockenhoff studied theology, first in Tubingen, then in Rome, where he was ordained priest in 1978. He did his doctorate under Alfons Auer and was assistant to the later Cardinal of the Curia Walter Kasper in Tubingen. In the early 1990s, Schockenhoff was appointed professor of moral theology in Regensburg; in 1994, he moved to Freiburg.

Schockenhoff had been a member of the National Ethics Council since 2001, and of the German Ethics Council from 2008 to 2016, where he served as vice chairman for four years. In 2016, he amed the presidency of the Catholic Academic Alien Service (KAAD) and was involved in many other church groups and contexts.

Medicine, Peace Ethics and the Synodal Way

Schockenhoff published numerous academic studies in which he addressed current social and political ies. For example, he dealt with questions of medical ethics and sketched out the outlines of an ethic of peace in the age of the new rearmament. In 2007, his broad study on the "Theology of Freedom" was published.

Within the church, Schockenhoff was an important mediator and contact person. Thus, he committed himself to a sexual ethic that is oriented toward the different realities of life and does not focus on rigid norms. Schockenhoff also played a central role in the current deliberations on the future of the church and pastoral care in Germany, the Synodal Way discussion process.

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