Address by Dr. Gerald Goetting, Chairman of the Christian Democratic Union and Vice-President of G. D. R. on the occasion of the Otto Nuschke Award to Metropolitan Dr. Paulos Mar Gregorios of Delhi.
My Lord Metropolitan, Your Excellency, Dear friends,
I welcome you most heartily to this festive hour of the directorate of the national executive committee of the Christian Democratic Union of Germany. We are highly pleased that Your Grace accepted our invitation and consented to receive the Otto Nuschke prize today.
Otto Nuschke was one of the founders of our party and its Chairman for many years. As early as in the Weimar Republic, that means in the time after World War I, he had the reputation of being an important democratic politician who stood for friendly relations with the Soviet Union. In the time of fascist dictatorship in Germany he was politically discriminated against and persecuted. In the years after liberation from fascism he took a decisive part in the CDU’s formation as a political party of Christians who stood for an antifascist-democratic Germany, consciously taking part in the buildup of the socialist society in our country. Thus we Christian Democrats follow the political conviction that, with this decision we might contribute to a world of peace and justice, to which we know ourselves committed by the social consequences of the Christian ethic.
The Otto Nuschke prize was founded to honour Christian personalities of our country and from all over the world, who set an example in the struggle for peace and social progress. Your Grace, my Lord Metropolitan, is the first churchman from a developing country who is awarded this honour. Your unceasing activity in the Ecumene, and particularly in the Christian peace movement have made your name well known and highly respected also in our country.
Your Grace has been the Metropolitan of Delhi of the Syrian Orthodox Church of the East for many years past. We highly esteem Your Grace as one of the leading representatives of the tradition of orthodoxy, who is seeking to infuse this venerable spirituality, which goes back to the beginnings of the Christian Church, with quite a new vitality for the people of our time.
Your Grace have been active not only in the church and the society of Your Indian homeland. You have travelled in all continents. After years of civil service in Ethiopia, Your Grace served as an Associate Secretary General of the World Council of Churches in Geneva. Since the last Assembly of the World Council of Churches in Vancouver you have been one of the seven Presidents of the Council.
Since the end of the sixties Your Grace has been active in the work of the Christian Peace Conference, which can look back with pride upon three decades of its existence this year. We Christian Democrats of the GDR have supported this movement from the very beginning. Many members of our Party are cooperating in it. As the vice - Chairman of the CPC Your Grace has substantially co-determined the profile of the Fifth and Sixth All-Christian Peace Assemblies by Your principled papers.
Your Grace, my Lord Metropolitan, has devoted much energy to promoting the initiative of the Russian Orthodox Church to deepen the cooperation of all the world religions, which culminated in the great 1982 World Conference of “Religious Workers for Saving the Sacred Gift of Life from Nuclear Catastrophe” held in Moscow.
Your Grace chaired all the round-table discussions held in Moscow in the past years as a follow-up of that World Conference. Likewise, Your Grace has also taken a responsible part in the activities of the World Peace Council. Last year in February you were invited to the International Forum “For a World Free from Nuclear Weapons and for the Survival of Mankind” in Moscow, where along with Mikhail Gorbachev, You delivered a speech attracting worldwide attention. Your Grace led the discussions of the working group of the representatives of the world religions, and reported on this work at the final meeting held in the Great Kremlin Palace.
In May 1987, in your paper read before the Second International Church Conference on “Theology and Spirituality of the Russian Orthodox Church” held in Moscow, Your Grace encouraged “interpreting the Christian faith in such a way that it touches society and mankind as a whole”. Thus you characterized the basic concern that determines your own work. Your extensive and manifold activity, which we can appreciate here only in some aspects, is based on your outstanding competence in two fields which decisively determine our world, if not the future destiny of mankind: the scientific-technological revolution, and the economy.
Your Grace acted as the moderator of the World Conference on “Faith, Science and the Future” held by the World Council of Churches in Boston, 1979. There you proved a competent interlocutor for representatives of natural science and technology. In the past years you have been critically exposing US President Reagan’s SDI program as well as other modern armament programs, not only from the political aspect, but also from that of technical feasibility.
Your Grace has been engaged most intensively with problems of world economy. For many years you were the chairman of the international study commission of “Politics and Economy” of the Christian Peace Conference. In all the great lectures you gave at CPC meetings as well as at the Moscow World Religious Conferences, the analysis of the underdevelopment of the so-called two-thirds world and the question of how it could be overcome were extensively discussed. In all of your statements made on this matter one perceives that solidarity with the exploited masses living in destitution, not only of your own country, but of all countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, is a basic motive of your activity.
In a time when problems of world economy are gaining an ever-increasing weight in the ecumenical discussion, you gave important guidance to many Christians by Your profound analyses and a differentiated view. Very soon you found the capitalistic market mechanisms to be the major cause of the catastrophic situation in many countries of the Third World, as it is showing today in the unimaginable indebtedness of these states. You criticized the so-called “gap thinking”, which is a way of thinking centred on overcoming the gap between capitalistic industrial countries and the developing countries. This thinking implies overcoming that gap by methods derived from capitalism. This would, however, perpetuate the dependence on the capitalistic centres. Your Grace, my Lord Metropolitan, plead for the self-determining role of the peoples’ forces instead.
Such kind of economic analyses and considerations have led you to a clear anti-imperialist position. In your keynote address to the Sixth All-Christian Peace Conference held three years ago, you put it as follows: “1 know that many of my friends are allergic to terms such as “imperialistic” and “neocolonialistic”. But such terms are not merely red rags. The existence of imperialism and neocolonialism in the world of today is a matter of fact. The SDI program is one way to protect and promote imperialism and neocolonialism as well as the system of market economy that begets both of them.” That is a quotation from your speech.
On the other hand, my Lord Metropolitan, you regard the socialist countries as being - to speak in your own words - “an important and strong element of opposition to injustice and exploitation in the world”. As early as in 1972 you stressed that, together with the people of the Two-Thirds World, you are interested in the strengthening of this opposition, but not in its blunting by ideological, political, or economic compromises. Without the alliance with world socialism the developing countries will not attain economic independence - this is your conviction expressed again and again.
As a churchman, my Lord Metropolitan, you are deeply in the spiritual tradition of orthodoxy, But as you have also made an intensive study of occidental philosophy, it is given to you to disclose the spiritual wealth of this tradition to people of our time. By way of example, you argue against the wrong alternative of “spirit or matter” by saying: “Matter is good, because it is created by God. Materialism cannot be opposed to spiritualism. Matter and spirit are two aspects of one and the same good creation.” Such words will enrich thinking also in our European churches. Similarly, in your address to the Boston Conference you pleaded for understanding science and faith to be complementary rather than antagonistic.
In the face of the threat to mankind’s existence, in recent years you pointed out the necessity of a new way of thinking. While the United Nations had not yet been very successful in establishing a New International Economic System, Your Grace has been among those churchmen who demanded a New International Moral Order. There should be no doubt that the danger to mankind’s survival can be prevented only if we succeed in formulating ethical norms for politics, economy, and science, making these norms obligatory for everybody. Your Grace has rightly pointed out that such a moral code should be formulated not only for the individual sphere, but all the more so for corporations, states, and peoples. On last year’s Fifth Moscow Round-Table Conference of theologians and experts on “Common security and Moral-Ethical Values”, Your Grace yourself attempted to put a catalogue of such norms up for discussion. Let me quote some articles from it: “All nations are sovereign, free, and equal, but they are all responsible to one another and to the world community.” “The interdependence of nations must be utilized to create international structures of global cooperation in all fields of human activities.”
“No nation should endanger the security of any other nation for the sake of its own security.”
“War and militarization, like slavery and feudal dependence, must be abolished in all countries.”
“The nuclear weapon is an evil. It must be declared illegal, and destroyed.”
“The space and the oceans shall be common property of mankind, to be placed under international control and free from mass destruction weapons.”
“Contrasting socio-economical systems must coexist and cooperate in an atmosphere of mutual trust and peaceful competition.”
I can say, my Lord Metropolitan, that we, the members of the CDU, fully agree with these principles, and that our government’s policy is ruled by them. In recent years the President of the Council of State of the GDR, Erich Honecker, repeatedly took initiatives that were guided by such principles. Here I think of our proposals for a denuclearized corridor and of a zone free from chemical weapons in Central Europe, of a zone of trust and security. In the heart of our continent. I think of our support given to the Soviet Union’s proposals to free the world from nuclear weapons by the year 2000.
Today, honouring Your Grace for your paradigmatic activity for peace and justice, we can do so in a situation where a first step in this direction has been taken with the treaty concluded between the USSR and the USA on the elimination of land-based nuclear medium-range missiles, This encourages us, even though we are aware of the existence of strong forces interested in obstructing, or at least in putting difficulties into the further path to follow.
Our struggle is still going on. We know that it will be successful in the same measure in which all those who are concerned for peace and justice will join hands and unite.
The next targets on this way have been staked out; halving the strategic weapons, continued adherence to the ABM treaty - putting an end to nuclear tests, banning chemical weapons, substantially reducing conventional armaments and armed forces in Europe, including tactical nuclear weapons in the process of disarmament, We are feeling satisfaction with the fact that these objectives of the states of the Warsaw Pact are in agreement with the basic lines of the plan of the Indian Prime Minister, Mr. Rajiv Gandhi, to eliminate the mass destruction weapons step by step by the year 2010. Such proposals are in accordance with the hopes and demands being expressed today in the international Christendom with more and more emphasis.
Your Grace, my Lord Metropolitan,
Please take this award of the Otto Nuschke prize as a testimony of the deep attachment of Christians of our country to Christians in India. A safe and permanent peace, no longer threatened by nuclear weapons - a world that guarantees a prosperous development to every people - these are the aims in which we know ourselves to be of one mind with you.
We honour Your Grace as a man who is giving an example of the global thinking which is so necessary for all of us today. This concerns not only the breadth of your horizon, but also the depth of your thoughts.
We honour Your Grace as a representative of the Two-Thirds World who is acting in close solidarity with the emancipatory movements of its peoples, regarding himself as allied with the policy of the socialist countries.
We honour Your Grace as a churchman and theologian who is living out of the wisdom of orthodox piety, taking political responsibility for peace and justice in our world in an exemplary way.
In Your Moscow lecture of May 1987, my Lord Metropolitan, you said: “We have to find our own way in the situation we have been placed in by God.” You have found this way of your own, and by following it you have become an example for many people. With all my heart I wish you further strength and success on this way. Please receive our sincere congratulations together with our best wishes for your further well - being.