Dr Baldur Hermans: An enthusiasm-filled Scout of the Holy Land
JERUSALEM – Interview with Dr Baldur Hermans, faithful friend of the Holy Land and of the Latin Patriarchate, on a short visit to Jerusalem Dr Hermans talks about his activity and his commitment with the Scouts Movement, both on local and international levels.
Dr Baldur Hermans was born in Holland. He is German and lives in the town of Essen where he carries out different duties. Doctor in History and in Social Sciences, during his youth he studied Theology and was for one yearlong student of Joseph Ratzinger, future Pope Benedikt XVI. He has taught Social Ethics at several Catholic seminaries in Germany and elsewhere in Europe.
He knew the Holy Land in 1982, during a pilgrimage tour with a group of priests. He knew then the Latin Patriarchate through certain priests, of whom the future Latin Patriarch, Mgr Michel Sabbah.
During his youth, together with the Salesian Fathers of Don Bosco, in charge of the parish, he has integrated the Scouts Movement in Germany, devoting himself to this Christian charisma which urges a spirit of creativity, of friendship and of love for nature.
He became later International Commissioner of DPSG (German Catholic Scout Association of St George) and also Secretary General of ICCS (International Catholic Conference of Scouting), over nine years, namely until 2011.
He has later worked a lot for the integration of Catholic Scouts of Palestine and of Jordan in the international framework of Catholic Scouts Movement, enabling these groups to coordinate their work and to open out to far reaching programs of international exchange
- What is Scouts for you as a Catholic?
Today I can express myself better than when I was young. I think that Scouts is a very important for youth in particular. It is a genuine experience of life among people, within groups, while in touch with nature. Scouts promote as well a spirit of creativity and develop a good knowledge of cultures.
Scouts underscore the factor of “doing”. It develops a spirit of pragmatism. Its values are deeply Christian.
Scouts teach younger generation to take up responsibilities within their own societies.
- How did you weave these links with the Patriarchate and the Holy Land? What do they represent for you?
The first time I came to the Holy Land was in 1982 when I accompanied the pilgrimage of a group of priests of my diocese. I met then the Latin Patriarch, through these priests. I met for example Fr Michel Sabbah – who was to become Patriarch some years later – and I got acquainted to his family in Nazareth. I met other priests as well: Emile Salaytah, Imad Twal, Elias Odeh .. etc and also committed laymen, with whom cooperation grew up. My knowledge of the Holy Land and of the Patriarchate kept on-going for many years.
Later in 1992 we suggested, at Jifna Parish, a training session for leaders of scouts groups in Palestine where we have distributed at the end, to those who provided a good image of Scouts action in their midst, a medal called “Wood Badge”.
For me it is important that young Christian Palestinians know that they are not alone. Scouts, since its inception, is a “missionary” movement which tends to grow out, everywhere, in all spheres
- What does the Medallion of Honor, which you received from the Patriarch some days ago, mean for you?
That was a surprise; I was not informed. I did not work for it, for I work on basis of friendship. But it is a way to say thank you.
- What is, in your opinion, the ideal means to corroborate the Christian presence in the Holy Land, particularly in these difficult moments on the local and regional levels?
I chose to work on the human field rather on the political. I think that life should be made more cheerful for youngsters. That is why we need to create centers and places where they can feel free and close to nature. They should lead a normal life. Not just thinking of problems, otherwise they will continue all way long to consider emigration.
That should be done along with respect to history and culture of this country, which are different from ours, we Europeans and Westerners.
Later, helping people to find housing, work, … etc It is of course very important, but the capacities of each are limited.
- What is your activity nowadays? What plans do you have?
I went on retirement but I am still member of several bodies. I keep from home doing research work in History, and I am helped by certain experts to create archives for German Scouts.
In 2011, I stopped being Secretary General of ICCS, after having filled this voluntary position during 9 years.
However, I keep for Scouts two main activities. First I travel across East Europe where I give Pastoral seminars on Scouts. These countries have suffered a lot during 40 years of Communist regime. Later I shall do my best to contribute in favor of Scouts Movement schemes in the Middle East.
I try to play a mediation role to secure a practical support to Church in Jordan (bells and stained glass windows, for example, were offered as gift to a church over there) and in Palestine.
Information compiled by Firas Abedrabbo