Greeting Address at the Opening of the Ecumenical Week of Prayer

Bishop Gusztáv Bölcskei opened the Ecumenical Week of Prayer on 16 January 2011 in his greeting.

As the Hungarian welcome greeting puts it: God has brought us all here to the house of prayer, in this hour of prayer. Prayer is a special genre, a quality and opportunity unique to human beings. A man may pray from himself, which is not an act of selfishness, but the admission that he is not capable of doing everything on his own. A man may pray for his friends and enemies, his church, his nation, for politicians (and not just because of them), for Europe, for all the peoples across the globe and the whole of creation. Every prayer carries within itself the motif that we all need a dimension that only unfolds in prayer.

That is what we are doing here, at the opening of the Ecumenical Week of Prayer. The people who consider themselves to be the followers of Christ in this world have come together.

Why is there a need for followers? Is Christ not powerful enough? Isn’t He almighty, sitting at God’s right hand? He is, but his nature is different from worldly power. Christ is the only Lord for us, we are obeying His one and only law when we ask Hungarians and the whole world to reconcile with God. It is through Christ that God uses his power.

For Christ, power is the serving of people. He never accepted the certainties that were considered irrefutable. He never acknowledged the seeming certainty that God and man are at a distance impossible to cover. For him, the only real certainty was grace, which means that the only certainty was God Himself, who is evident for Christ, but inconceivable for man, and what we consider to be a certainty is often not valid in His terms.

There are no certainties, there are only values, which can only remain values if we stand by them and are ready to confess what we believe in. These values are neither self-evident nor invincible, they need to be protected and proclaimed, they need to be lived by, otherwise they will become extinct, just like certain animal species.

It is not a certainty that we necessarily belong to the EU; the Hungarian rotating presidency is no reason for us to become conceited: we have plenty to learn and to prove. If, however, we Hungarians can reconcile with God, ourselves and each other, we can stand as proud Europeans in front of the rest of Europe.

It is not a certainty that we Hungarians live in a democracy; ours is a young and fragile one; and it is a daily challenge to protect democratic values and institutions. Democratic power can only be strengthened, and it can only reach new horizons if the goals of people take precedence over its own goals. The goal and task has to be to find and keep, even protect this humane approach.

The situation and role of churches is not a certainty, either. Christianity must be in constant dialogue with the state, with other intellectual actors in society; on the other hand, there is need for open and ecumenical dialogue within the great family of churches.

Social solidarity, morality, the sustainability of society are also not certainties. A society can only claim to have the above characteristics if its members are able to show that they are ready to act to help each other, voluntarily and selflessly. A society can only serve voluntarily if it is free. And if it is free indeed, it can recognise the responsibility inherent in freedom.

The followers of Christ do not pray in the attempt to prove that they are in possession of the truth, but rather to offer themselves as well as the people they are praying for to be held be the hands of Christ’s truth.

Let me say once more: God has brought us all here to the house of prayer, in this hour of prayer.