Religious dignitaries decorated by the president

Ljubljana – Catholic Cardinal Franc Rode, Evangelical Lutheran Bishop Geza Filo and Mufti Nedžad Grabus were honoured with state decorations at a ceremony at the Presidential Palace on Tuesday. They highlighted the importance of diversity, cooperation and coexistence of different religious communities.

Cardinal Rode, who served as the archbishop of Ljubljana in 1997-2004, was awarded the Golden Order of Merit by President Borut Pahor for his lifetime achievement, contribution to Slovenia’s independence and international establishment, and promotion of the culture of interfaith dialogue.

Receiving the decoration, Rode said he perceived it as an “embrace of the homeland, as a kind hand given to him by Slovenia, as an honour and recognition of this young country.”

Slovenia has every opportunity to grow, to find its foundation in solidarity and unity of all, to grow in a democratic spirit, in respect of diversity,” Rode said, expressing the wish for people to quarrel and attack each other less.

The former Ljubljana archbishop would like Slovenians to “create an atmosphere that is relaxed and truly fraternal.”

The Silver Orders of Merit were meanwhile presented to Bishop Filo and Mufti Nedžad Grabus for their successful, unifying and tolerance-fostering leadership of the respective religious communities.

Filo, who headed the Evangelical and Lutheran Church in Slovenia in 2013-2019, is happy that the president presented the high state decorations to representatives of three religious communities in the year when Slovenia celebrates the 30th anniversary of independence.

He noted that what the three decorated representatives had in common was they unwaveringly believed in a just, free and solidarity-based world for all, regardless of their religious, social, political and other background even during the most difficult times.

“Getting to know other and different people, their habits, religion, customs, living with them, all this enriches a person and broadens their horizons,” Filo added.

Grabus, who served as the religious leader of the Islamic Community in Slovenia from 2006 to June 2021, sees the decoration as a strong message and a guidance for developing relations within European culture and civilization by accepting and respecting diversity.

He noted that Muslims in Europe were often condemned for their religious affiliation and religious heritage, adding that “we must do everything in our power to maintain peace, stability and trust.”

Grabus called for the building of relations based on truth and justice and condemnation of all crimes, where he particularly emphasised the prohibition of denial of the Holocaust and the Srebrenica genocide.