YMCA World - No. 2 - June 1998

7th World Council of YMCAs - Buenos Aires, Argentina - 1977

Take A Look at Our World

Paulos Mar Gregorios

Dr. Paulos Mar Gregorios challenged the YMCAs as never before with a provocative address entitled: “Take a look at our world!”

The 1977 World Council was the first to be held in Latin America, in response to an invitation received from the YMCA in Argentina. At the “roll call of nations”, in the opening session, delegates from 61 national movements responded. President K.M. Philip, in a brief and clear opening statement, reviewed progress made during the three years of his presidency and calling on delegates said: “May we constantly remind ourselves that we are Œenlisted in reconciliation¹. May we be permeated, in our common task, with a spirit of openness to each other and a will for reconciliation as together we seek to chart a course for the future. Then only can we hope to exert a reconciling influence in the world of our times.”

Remarkable for its substance and its penetrating philosophical, scientific, theological, social and political insights was the major address given by Dr. Paulos Mar Gregorios, Metropolitan of Delhi, Orthodox Syrian Church of the East. The Metropolitan

underscored how “the world is an arena where good and evil Œforce fields¹ confront each other, confront us. The Christian teaching is that history is a field where the wheat and the tares grow together and can be finally separated only at the last time.

At that last time, Good and evil are not reconciled to each other. The wheat is gathered together into the barns, the tares are burned in the fire. Thus, it is not reconciliation that finally overcomes evil, but judgment and destruction. But we must not make

the mistake that because in history the good will always be mixed with the evil, therefore we can do nothing about it. Our business in history is to carry on the struggle against evil, to overcome evil with good.”

The Metropolitan did not hesitate, in the political and economic part of this world overview, to state as his personal belief, that the future of the world would be in a socialist economic and political order. Conscious of his limited time, he did not clearly define what form of socialism he had in mind - and there are many in today¹s world. It is to the credit of the speaker that he spoke his mind, and to the YMCA World council that he felt free to do so.

Addressing himself directly to YMCA issues, Metropolitan Gregorios emphasized the need for much more significant youth involvement in policy making and in execution of policy. He also underscored the need to link opportunities for personal growth

with a commitment to “the growth and development of society”. Recognizing the variety of situations in which the YMCA expresses its Christian commitment. he added, “It is clear that one single policy cannot hold for all these situations”. To be Christian means both Christian identity and openness “to all humanity”. He went on to say, “Identity and openess are both equally essential to being Christian. It is from the identity that the openness comes, not from a blank. Openness does not mean open like a door. There must be something behind the door which is worth coming to.”

The Metropolitan called for “a conscious effort to promote deep dialogue with other religions in multi-religious contexts, especially in Asia.” And raised the searching question, “Can the YMCA undertake some radically new projects involving the structural evils of society, and in which the poor are the active participants in the struggle, not merely passive recipients of help?” To a large degree, the decisions of the World Council are the beginnings of a response to his challenges.