"The only side that we take is that of our faith, which today may seem to land us in one political camp, tomorrow another, but in truth we are always only in one camp, that of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ."
The speech of the Istanbul-based patriarch was one of numerous appearances by the man known for his advocacy of interfaith relations and religious freedom, and often dubbed the "green patriarch" for working to combat environmental degradation, Religion News Service reports.
Our friend Kevin Offner, who is on Intervarsity staff for graduate students at Georgetown, noted that a friend sent him links to a transcript, the video, and coverage of the Patriarch's speech. Kevin wrote back to his friend:
Thanks and I took the time to read the Patriarch's address.
Yes, yes, all he says is good and important. But really now: addressing the three issues of nonviolence, health care and environmentalism--these are all issues that just about everyone at Georgetown agrees on. Or at least, they're very sexy, politically correct, cool things to talk about today.
And yet what Luther said remains ever true today: "If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the truth of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christ. Where the battle rages, there the loyalty of the solider is proved, and to be steady on all the battlefield besides, is mere flight and disgrace if he flinches at that point."
What is one of the huge elephants in the room, the huge culture battles that is going on right now all across our country, especially in the Roman Catholic world (which Georgetown represents)? Sexuality and marriage! Yet not a word here about homosexuality, abortion, divorce, sex outside of marriage, gay marriage, etc. Good grief, he could have at *least* thrown out a few choice lines when talking about caring for creation, like, "and let us care for all of God's creation, including the unborn," or something like this. But nope, very safe and non-controversial. (He does say, "Just as every human life is a gift from God, to be treated with love and respect," but does this include the unborn? His listeners could interpret it either way.)
Please don't misunderstand me. Yes, of course the issues of health care and the environment are important. But this is the wide road, the easy road, the road that will win one lots of applause. To bring the Gospel (that unchanging Gospel and Truth which the Patriarch so wisely discussed in his introduction) to bear on those issues that are currently dividing Christians from the world is to speak courageously and prophetically.
The Patriarch sadly missed a golden opportunity.
PS. I hope I'm wrong here, but I just haven't heard the Patriarch speak out forcefully and prophetically, with the strong foundation of the Tradition behind him, about matters of sexuality and marriage and abortion. I honestly do hope I'm wrong--no doubt you can send me several links of his speeches in the past few years where he's addressed strongly these pivotal cultural issues? (I write this honestly and not sarcastically.)
Well said, Kevin.