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Building a Civilization of Love Together: Cardinal O’Malley Delivers Quasquicentennial Lecture

In the words of Dr. Tal Howard, director of the Center for Faith and Inquiry (CFI), “It’s not every day that a Catholic Cardinal, an Archbishop, speaks at an evangelical college.” But April 20 was an exception.

Gordon College was pleased to welcome His Eminence Seán Patrick Cardinal O’Malley, Archbishop of Boston, to deliver the Quasquicentennial Lecture, a capstone event in the 125th anniversary celebration. His message, “Our Common Concern for the Least Among Us” challenged listeners to engage in the common call of all Christ’s followers to serve and care for the poor.

“In the past, the polarity was often between Catholics and Protestants. Today, that has changed. The new polarity is believer and non-believer,” he exhorted. “Hence, there is a certain urgency about reviving the dialogues among churches.” Citing the enormous progress that the once-divided Church has made toward unity and renewed friendship, the Cardinal reminded his audience that there is still significant work to be done to “bind up the wounds of our world and build a civilization of love.”

Cardinal O’Malley encouraged his fellow believers to, together, counter what he called a “globalization of indifference,” to seek opportunities to serve the poor. He recounted stories from his own experience and cited several Catholic and Protest thought leaders—including Gordon alumnus Christian Smith ’82, who coined the phrase moralistic therapeutic deism to describe the religious lives of American youth.

“Hopefully our encounter with the living God will help us to discover our shared mission to be brothers and sisters to each other, to work for a lasting peace based on justice and solidarity, and a special preferential love for the poor, the sick and the suffering, who are the protagonists of Jesus’ gospel,” he concluded.

Following his lecture, the Cardinal sat for a conversation with President D. Michael Lindsay, answering questions about immigration reform, the persecution of believers at the hands of ISIS, the experience of being in a conclave—and even lighter topics, such as his sports loyalty. Lacing touches of humor into his august message, the Cardinal said, “The Red Sox didn’t win the pennant for almost a century until I became Archbishop. So I’m taking credit for that.” He added with a smile that his Cardinal uniform includes red socks.

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