German Chancellor Angela Merkel has credited Christianity with providing the foundation for the country's values system.
Merkel made the statement on Friday during the second annual Ecumenical Kirchentag in Munich – a May 12-16 Christian festival which drew some 125,000 people.
"Our society lives on premises that it cannot create by itself. Without a doubt, one of these very important premises is Christianity. Christianity has shaped our country," Merkel said according to Vatican Radio's German service. "I'm not saying we could not have arrived where we are in any other way, but here in Germany it's very clear that we came to our values system through Christianity."
"That means we know that freedom does not mean freedom from something, but it means freedom given by God through His Creation to commit oneself to help others and stand up for causes," she continued. "This may be the most important source of social cohesion."
According to Reuters, Merkel's statement was "not a surprising" one in Germany, especially from the leader of the Christian Democratic Union party, but it stands out as one seldom heard in other European nations, many of which have strict church-state separations.
Meanwhile, German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziére, who also attended the Kirchentag, wrote in an opinion piece following his participation that he would like to see such a festival held for Muslims in the country.
"During these days in Munich, I asked myself how long we still need before we can arrange an event like this with Islam?" Maiziére wrote. "Following Martin Luther King's motto 'I have a dream,' I wish we could have joint festivals, controversial debates and engaging discussions with Islam and within Islam."
Christian-Muslim dialogue was one of the themes explored at this year's Kirchentag, which featured panel discussions, rock concerts, and Bible studies among other activities.
The theme of the gathering was "That you may have hope," based on a text from 1 Peter, with organizers hoping the event would teach people "how a Christian life-style can flourish in the world as well as for the world."