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President Drnovšek decorates Archbishop Franc Kramberger

Maribor, 11/03/2006  |  press release, speech

Click to enlargePresident Janez Drnovšek today visited the Archdiocese of Maribor to decorate Archbishop and Metropolitan Franc Kramberger for his outstanding services to Slovenia in the civil, cultural and humanitarian fields and for his 25 years of service as Bishop Ordinary of Maribor. President Drnovšek decorated Msgr Kramberger with the Golden Order for Services. Following the formal conferral of the decoration, President Drnovšek and Archbishop Kramberger visited the cathedral.

Archbishop Kramberger has been working in the civil, cultural and pastoral spheres in the interests of the Republic of Slovenia for 25 years, and he has made a many-sided contribution to the nation’s cultural, political and spiritual development.

Click to enlargeAs prefect and head master of the seminary school, he has achieved extraordinary successes in educating the younger generations, especially priests. By founding the Anton Martin Slomšek Diocesan School he has had an effect on the entire Slovene cultural area.

As regards his charitable work, as president of Caritas Slovenia he has made an outstanding contribution, particularly in the material sphere, providing help for the needy – in particularly families and individuals in situations of hardship.

In the spheres of academic research, culture and publishing, he has been responsible, as patron of the Society of St Hermagoras, for ensuring the continuing influence of this century-and-a-half-old institution on the development of Slovenia’s cultural and national identity. He has organised and systematically catalogued the personal library of Blessed Anton Martin Slomšek, and in this way contributed to the recognisability of a historical period and the life and work of this great Slovene. Slomšek, as the founder of the Diocese of Maribor and the first theological school in Maribor, was also the subject of his doctoral dissertation and he has dedicated numerous monographs and articles to him, in this way helping to raise international awareness of Slomšek’s cultural and spiritual tradition. He continued this work as vice-postulator for Slomšek’s beatification and later as bishop. His invaluable work in cataloguing Anton Martin Slomšek’s archives is particularly deserving of mention.

The success of Msgr Kramberger’s educational, cultural and charitable work is also linked to his activity in the enterprise sphere, particularly the building of institutions such as the Andreanum (containing the Faculty of Theology), the Theological Library, the Slomšek Library, the Ars Sacra Gallery, the organ-building workshop in Hoče and the organ school in Maribor, a restoration workshop and home for retired priests, and in the development of Rast, an organisation involved in the maintenance of cultural monuments, education and pastoral care.

In the sphere of national politics, it should be remembered that it was thanks to Msgr Kramberger’s efforts that a part of Slovenia’s territory that for centuries had come under the Archdiocese of Zagreb was transferred, by a decision of Pope John Paul II, to the Diocese of Maribor, meaning that the entire territory of the Republic of Slovenia now comes under Slovene dioceses.

He deserves considerable credit for his efforts to bring about the restoration of numerous cultural monuments, particularly churches and other religious buildings, that testify to our national and cultural identity.

Msgr Kramberger’s work has been equally valuable in the broader national context, especially during the delicate moments of the independence process, when he took a decisive stance in favour of defending the national political interests of the Republic of Slovenia. For decades he has demonstrated his commitment to the progress and spiritual growth of the people of Slovenia through his active support for the development of cultural institutions, both ecclesiastical and secular (for example Maribor University). He also confirmed his democratic spirit by calling pastoral council elections for all the parishes in his diocese and in this way included lay-people in the pastoral work of the Church.

Also noteworthy are the years he has spent endeavouring to bring about a reorganisation of the Church in Slovenia and the founding of new dioceses, something of both pastoral and national cultural importance.

On presenting the decoration to Archbishop Kramberger, President Drnovšek said the following words:

‘Ladies and Gentlemen; Your Grace; I am very happy to be able to congratulate you personally on this occasion. First of all, because the Diocese of Maribor has become an Archdiocese and you the first Archbishop of Maribor, and also because of this State decoration. It is my firm belief that this decoration has finished in the right hands.

Over the course of many years you have contributed a great deal to enabling people
to act according to their own moral values, to seek something more in life, to avoid closing themselves in their own selfishness, their material ambitions, and instead to strive for something higher, to feel the distress of others, to help them, to be good and honest.

We often say that the State and religion should not mix, but I believe that in one aspect they should. The State needs people with high moral virtues and values, it needs truth-loving, honest people, good people who are willing to work, to help their fellow-citizens. If State institutions are filled with people without a soul, with people who only look after their own interests, then State institutions are only dedicated to themselves, they do not help others, they do not help citizens. They need to be filled with true, good, honest people who feel and who are willing to help. And it is precisely here, Your Grace, that your contribution has been so significant.

In all these years you have always given something more. I am happy to have this opportunity to accompany this State decoration with these words. I offer you and the Archdiocese of Maribor my best wishes for continued successful work and the greatest possible success in educating people, young people, with the right moral values. Thank you very much.'

After the ceremony Archbishop Kramberger thanked President Drnovšek for the decoration and the two then visited the cathedral, where the cathedral canon Dr Stanislav Lipovšek showed them its sights of interest, with particular emphasis on the chapel housing the remains of Blessed Anton Martin Slomšek, the first Slovene to be beatified. President Drnovšek also signed the cathedral’s guestbook.