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Remarks by President John J. DeGioia

Introduction of Pastor Rick Warren

Gaston Hall
Georgetown University
February 4, 2008

Today happens to mark the birthday of Dietrich Bonhoeffer—the Lutheran pastor, theologian, and staunch opponent of Nazism…who was executed only a month before the end of World War II for his resistance activities.  Bonhoeffer’s prolific writings on faith and spirituality have continued to be influential—especially his work on behalf of the international ecumenical movement…and his insistence on the importance of an active response to Christ’s Sermon on the Mount—a call to social justice and solidarity with poor.

It is, therefore, extremely appropriate that we hold our second Improving the Human Condition lecture, today…and that we welcome Dr. Rick Warren to Georgetown.  As you know, like Bonhoeffer, Dr. Warren is a pastor and theologian…he has also made enormous contributions with his writings on faith and spirituality…and his support of efforts to combat global poverty, disease and illiteracy are certainly testimony to his concern for the neediest in our midst.

As a Catholic and Jesuit university—as a Christian institution—the heritage… tradition…and spirit of service that animates and motivates everything we do here at Georgetown challenges us and compels us to also care for the neediest in our midst…to be in solidarity with the poor.  

True solidarity requires more than simply providing service to the poor…to the marginalized…to those in need.  Solidarity calls us to identify with the poor through personal experience…to actively confront the injustices our experience reveals…and to engage others in this effort.  At its crux, solidarity—which recognizes the innate human dignity of every individual—demands a true love of others that seeks to express itself in works of justice.

For those of you who many not have attended our inaugural lecture, which featured Dr. Tachi Yamada—the President of the Gates Foundation’s Global Health Program—let me say, again, that this lecture series is a reflection of our ongoing efforts to be in solidarity with the poor and marginalized—to better understand their experience and to help address their problems.

It also presents an extraordinary opportunity for eminent thinkers and practitioners to share their thoughts, insights and perspectives on issues related to human development…and to address the most urgent problems we face at this moment in time.

Additionally, this series complements a course entitled “Ethics, Globalization, and Development,” that the university has offered each spring for the past four years.  I have the privilege of teaching it along with another member of our faculty, Carol Lancaster.  Carol is a distinguished veteran in the field of development and the Director of our Mortara Center for International Studies.  In our course discussions, we explore a wide range of issues—including theories of poverty… development …and our moral responsibilities.

Finally, this lecture series—by helping us to focus on solidarity with the poor—will hopefully help instill in the young people who come to us a single ideal.  It was an ideal first expressed by former Jesuit Superior-General Pedro Arrupe:  The ideal that they must be women and men for others.

These are women and men who will not be deaf to the needs of others…who will accept responsibility not only for their own development—but for the collective development of the human family…and who will work to recognize and remedy the injustices suffered by the poor and marginalized in our global family.

This ideal certainly resonates with our guest speaker—Dr. Rick Warren—who teaches that doing good is the only way for any of us to create significance in our lives.

Pastor of the Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California, Dr. Warren is probably best known for his work, The Purpose-Driven Life.  One of the best selling books of all time, it has sold more than 30 million copies, worldwide, and significantly impacted the way countless people live their lives.

He is also a theologian who has lectured at seminaries and universities around the world, including Oxford and Cambridge.

Additionally, he is an advocate of social justice…and a prominent global philanthropist. He and his wife, Kay, donate 90% of their income to various international causes, including efforts to end poverty and pandemic disease in Africa.  Pastor Warren is particularly passionate about fighting AIDS, and in 2006 his church hosted the Global Summit on AIDS.

He is also a global strategist—and advises leaders in the public, private, and faith sectors on poverty, health, education, and faith in culture. He has been invited to speak at the United Nations; the World Economic Forum in Davos; the African Union; TIME’s Global Health Summit; and numerous congresses around the world.

TIME magazine named him one of “15 World Leaders Who Mattered Most in 2004,” and one of the “100 Most Influential People in the World” in 2005.  Also in 2005, U.S. News & World Report named him one of “’s 25 Best Leaders”.

It is an honor to have Pastor Warren with us today...and to hear his perspective on his healthcare work in …the state of our global community…and our responsibilities to one another. 

Additionally, I hope—in the spirit of Dietrich Bonhoeffer…a spirit which challenge us to advance both ecumenism and social justice—that today’s lecture will help foster dialogue and discussion between Catholics and Evangelicals on relevant issues of the day…and also help promote true solidarity with the poor. 

…It is now my privilege to introduce Dr. Rick Warren…and, again, in the ecumenical spirit of Dietrich Bonhoeffer—I would like to invite everyone to remain for the second part of our evening—an “Open Interfaith Dialogue” with Rick Warren.

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