The World Congress of Faiths mourns Sir Sigmund Sternberg who died on Sunday 16 October 2016 aged 95. He was born in Budapest, Hungary. He emigrated to Britain in 1939 and was naturalised as a British citizen in 1947.
His contribution to the Interfaith world was immeasurable. Amongst many other achievements, he was responsible for the relocation of a Roman Catholic convent at Auschwitz, organising the first papal visit to a synagogue in 1986, negotiating the Vatican's recognition of the state of Israel and organising the erection of statues around the globe to the memory of Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish diplomat who saved so many Jews from the Nazis but who perished , probably executed by the Soviets, some years after the Second World War.
He served as vice-president of the World Congress of Faiths for many years. He loved to attend our meetings and was generous in his support of our endeavours. Along with two other World Congress members, the Rev Marcus Braybrook and Sheikh Zaki Badawi, he was co-founder of the Three Faiths Forum. He was also the sole Patron of the International Council of Christians and Jews and attended their meetings in many different countries, always supporting the work of reconciliation and dialogue.
He was knighted in 1976, appointed a Papal Knight in 1985, and awarded the Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion in 1998 for his interfaith work worldwide. His work for understanding between faiths took him to every continent and has brought him recognition from nineteen countries as well as the Vatican winning him many medals that he treasured.
He was a prominent member of the Movement for Reform Judaism, serving as its Life President.
May his memory be a blessing to us all.