Bartholomew I Christmas message: Science is a priceless gift from God
By Anna Poce & Linda Bordoni
In a Christmas message addressed to the faithful, the leader of the Greek Orthodox Church invited believers across the world to become vaccinated against the coronavirus if they have not already done so.
"The divine Incarnation, together with the manifestation of God’s truth about God, also reveals the truth and the ultimate destination of man,” writes Bartholomew I, and he upholds science, as long as it serves humanity, as a precious gift from God.
Reflecting on the divine Incarnation, the Patriarch says "Whoever honours God must also honour man, and whoever undermines man also dishonours God, who has assumed our nature. In Christ, when we speak theologically of God, we speak at the same time of man."
Thus, he continues the life of the Church "represents, expresses and serves this salvific mystery of the divine-humanity. (…) She lives and preaches the truth of an authentic spiritual life and the culture of love and solidarity."
Moreover, "offering the reason for your hope” (1 Peter 3:15), in no way does the Church regard contemporary civilization “as another sinful Nineveh invoking like Jonah the divine wrath upon it and its abolition, but rather the Church struggles for the transformation of culture in Christ."
In light of all this, Bartholomew says, in the Church today there is a need for "pastoral imagination" and "dialogue" and not "argumentation"; "participation and not abstention, concrete acts and not abstract theory, creative acceptance and not general rejection."
Fidelity to the tradition of the Church must not be entrapment in the past - he continues - but the use of the experience of the past in the present in a creative way.
Looking to the New Year guided by Christ
The second part of the Ecumenical Patriarch’s message focuses on what humanity has experienced this past year, namely the situation generated by the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.
He thanks God for the work of scientists in developing vaccines and drugs to treat the virus and encourages all the faithful to get vaccinated and to respect the safety measures taken by health authorities.
"Science," he says, "as long as it works in the service of man, is a priceless gift from God. We must gratefully accept this gift and not be misled by the irresponsible voices of non-experts and those proclaiming themselves representatives of God and ‘spiritual advisors’ of the genuine faith, who contradict themselves woefully, however, due to their lack of love for their fellows, whose lives they expose to great danger.”
In the belief that the lives of all are directed "by the God of wisdom and love," Bartholomew invites us to look to 2022 as a year of salvation, despite recent events, because it is "guided by Christ, who loves men and cares for all things" and who "wills everyone to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth.” (1 Tim 2.4).
Wishing all men and women of goodwill "a healthy new year, fruitful in good deeds and full of divine gifts," the Patriarch concludes his message exhorting us to spend time in adoration of the Child Jesus and praying "for the peaceful and harmonious coexistence of all those who reside in the Holy Land."