Edward Ondrako, Professor at the Catholic University of America, sharing his experience in Turkey during a trip with RumiForum:

Edward Ondrako

I am Ed Ondrako, I am a Franciscan, and I would like to echo the magnificent sentiments that we have been listening to all evening, particularly emphasizing the gifts that are brought by everybody in this room, from the leaders, all of us participating, from the insights sharing on what’s going on in our hearts, in our minds, and our hopes for the future. I am struck by one short part of the conversation last evening when I sensed such an authentic compassion by those who are hosting us. Compassion and more than that! Empathy and loyalty towards truth and candor about difficulties! That had to do when there were comments made about 9/11.

I think I have never heard such forceful statement by our hosts here, that was typical of so many other people, how they in great pain at 9/11 and the time after it. It is that kind of candor and loyalty are such difficult things that gives me great hope for the future because we look to the past and we can use a phrase, I take it from Vatican, and find so often comfort in it, that truth wins because it is truth. It wins with its gentleness and with its power! The Gulen Movement in my experience so far, and my reading about it, but mostly in our experiencing at these last days is that’s what the Gulen Movement is focusing on: Truth wins! I couldn’t help but think, you know we discovered something, such a pleasant surprise that by wearing the Franciscan habit here in Turkey, so many young people especially came up and wanted to take pictures taken and wanted to hug me and I could not help but think after a while I was hugging the children, say we are gonna build a safer and more harmonious world for you, so help us God! And that’s what we are gonna do for you and the Gulen Movement is doing that, and I can’t help but think as a Franciscan that’s what I am called to do.

I think as a very final comment, when we were with the Zaman editors as well as with those who were involved in publishing, and Bishop Morrowich was with us; he spoke to us briefly about Nostra Aetate, that was one of the documents that emerged in the Vatican Council about the Catholic Church’s relationship to those who don’t believe as Catholics do, and he was very emphatic about that as the blueprint not only for the present but also for the future. Then when we were finished, I asked about the Assisi Decalogue peace that was written by all of the religious representatives who met in Assisi shortly after 9/11 in January 2002. I asked whether that was used as a tool, because the potential for it is there, but why is it sort of sitting on the shelf, as one might say? He was very positive how important that was, but he said, things take time and this goes, he used the word, lantama, slowly. But the Gulen Movement, so the Franciscans, and the goodwill I hear in the group that we have; with all our human frailty and all our strengths, we are not all saing for sure, but we are all working together to build this better world. So I thank the RumiForum and our leaders for all of the hard work and sacrifices to make this come true for us.