Welcome to the official website of the CENTER OF ECUMENICAL, MISSIOLOGICAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL STUDIES "METROPOLITAN PANTELEIMON PAPAGEORGIOU" (CEMES)
THE OFFICIAL RECEPTION OF THE CEMES PRESIDIUM TO PRESENT THE BOOK "FOR THE UNITY OF THE ONE CHURCH OF CHRIST"
INTER-ORTHODOX MASTER PROGRAM IN "ORTHODOX ECUMENICAL THEOLOGY"(MOET) The Master Program in Orthodox Ecumenical Theology (MOET) is an inter-Orthodox and inter-jurisdictional Program, which aims at applying the invaluable theological legacy of the Orthodox Christianity to the needs of the present, following all international standards of excellence and the critical study pursued in modern academic scholarship. Aims and objectives - Το provide research and education in foundational Orthodox theology that meet the needs of the Church in the 21st century in local, inter-Christian, and inter-Faith environment. Though it was primarily planned to deal with Orthodox Theology in its ecumenical perspective - the term “ecumenical” referring to the universal, catholic and ecumenical dimension of the Christian faith - it also applies to all Christian theologies designated not in a confessional sense as “orthodox”. - To enhance understanding of the ecumenical, socio-economic, ecological and gender issues facing the Churches and society today, through teaching and research of the highest academic standard. - To create an international, multi-ethnic, multi-cultural and diverse student and faculty community to foster greater understanding between cultures, nations, and Church traditions. Target audience The Master in Orthodox Ecumenical Theology is addressed to English-speaking theologians, and graduates of relevant disciplines, who wish to acquire or broaden their specialization through a high-level instruction aiming at an effective application of the foundational doctrine of Christianity, especially the Orthodox (Biblical, Liturgical, Patristic) to our secular, multi-religious and multi-cultural context. Eligible for registration are holders of any undergraduate bachelor’s degree from accredited higher education institutions.
Program Structure. The Master Program in Orthodox Ecumenical Theology has two directions: A. Theological (OET) B. Geopolitical (G&R)
A. THEOLOGICAL DIRECTION "ORTHODOX ECUMENICAL THEOLOGY" (OET)
The Direction in "Orthodox Ecumenical Theology" (OET) is an inter-Orthodox and inter-jurisdictional Program of distant learning (webinar0, which aims at applying the invaluable theological legacy of the Orthodox Christianity to the needs of the present, following all international standards of excellence and the critical study pursued in modern academic scholarship. It will operate under the academic umbrella of the University of Saint Katherine (USK). Aims and objectives Το provide research and education in foundational Orthodox theology that meet the needs of the Church in the 21st century in local, inter-Christian, and inter-Faith environment. Though it was primarily planned to deal with Orthodox Theology in its ecumenical perspective - the term “ecumenical” referring to the universal, catholic and ecumenical dimension of the Christian faith - it also applies to all Christian theologies designated not in a confessional sense as “orthodox”. To enhance understanding of the ecumenical, socio-economic, ecological and gender issues facing the Churches and society today, through teaching and research of the highest academic standard. To create an international, multi-ethnic, multi-cultural and diverse student and faculty community to foster greater understanding between cultures, nations, and Church traditions. Target audience The Master in Orthodox Ecumenical Theology is addressed to English-speaking theologians, and graduates of relevant disciplines, who wish to acquire or broaden their specialization through a high-level instruction aiming at an effective application of the foundational doctrine of Christianity, especially the Orthodox (Biblical, Liturgical, Patristic) to our secular, multi-religious and multi-cultural context. Eligible for registration are holders of any undergraduate bachelor’s degree from accredited higher education institutions. The Academic Committee Emeritus Professor Metropolitan Ioannis Zizioulas, Professor of Dogmatic Theology , Former President of the Academy of Athens Emeritus Professor, Metropolitan Kallistos Ware Professor of Orthodox Theology, Oxford University Professor Metropolitan Makarios Tylliridis, Professor of Church History, Dean of Makarios III Seminary Professor Metropolitan Nifon Mihaita, Professor of Old Testament, Rector of the University of Targoviste Professor Metropolitan Vassilios Karayannis, Professor of Systematic Theology, President of St. Epiphanius Cultural Institute Professor Metropolitan Epiphanios Dumenko Prof. of Bible and Philosophy, Former Rector of the Kyiv Orthodox Theological Academy Emeritus Professor Petros Vassiliadis, Professor of New Testament, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (Director) Program Structure Students are required to complete the following Core and elective courses: First Term P. Vassiliadis N. Dimitriadis 6 ECTS Introductory course The Core Courses
1. Job Getcha (EP) 6 ECTS Liturgical Theology
1. Stylianos Muksuris (EP) Liturgical Theology 2. Nicolas Abou Mrad (ANT) 6 ECTS Biblical Theology (OT) 2. Ivan Zhelev Dimitrov (BUL) Biblical Theology (NT) 3. Dimitrios Moschos (GR) 6 ECTS Church History and Theology 3. Theodosios Kyriakidis Church History and Theology 4.Cyril Hovorun (UOC) 6 ECTS Ecumenical Theology & Ecclesiology 4.Augustinos Bairaktaris Ecumenical Theology & Ecclesiology 5.Nikolaos Dimitriadis 6 ECTS Inter-Christian, Inter-Faith & Ecological Witness 5.Dimitrios Keramidas Inter-Christian, Inter-Faith & Ecological Witness Second Term ELECTIVE COURSES (3 ECTS each) John Chryssavgis Ecology & Orthodox Social Ethos Cristian Sonea (ROM) Common Christian Witness Georgios Martzelos Patristic and Dogmatic Theology Dimitris Passakos Biblical Hermeneutics and Social Studies John Ngige Njoroge (ALE). Orthodox Mission and Inculturation Georges Adam (EVAN) Pauline Theology in Early & Contemporary Christianity Nikos Kouremenos Oriental Orthodox Churches: History and Spiritual Life Niki Papageorgiou The Church’s Structure: A Sociological Approach Petros Panagiotopoulos Scientific and Bioethical Issues in Orthodox Theology Spyridoula Athanasopoulou-Kypriou Orthodox Feminist Hermeneutics The Faculty
(in red the CEMES members, in parenthesis the Orthodox Jurisdictions OR non-Orthodox Churches)
Biblical Courses Petros Vassiliadis Miltiadis Konstantinou Ivan Zelev Dimitrov (BUL) Nicolas Abou Mrad (ANT) Dimitrios Passakos Georgios Adam (EVAN) Liturgical Courses Job Getcha (EP) Stylianos Muksuris (EP) Systematic Theological Courses Georgios Martzelos Vassilios Karayannis (CYP) Historical Courses Dimitrios Moschos (GR) Tamara Grdzelidze (GEO) Theodosios Kyriakidis MissiologicalCourses Dimitris Keramidas Cristian Sonea (ROM) Ecumenical Courses Cyril Hovorun (UOC) Augustinos Bairaktaris Inter-Faith andEnvironmental Courses Nikolaos Dimitriadis John Ngige Njoroge (ALE) Ecclesiological courses Cyril Hovorun (UOCU-MP) Social Courses Niki Papageorgiou Lukasz Nazarko (POL) Modern, Gender and Bio-ethics Courses Petros Panagiotopoulos Spyridoula Athanasopoulou-Kypriou Elizabeth Prodromou Inter-Christian Courses Nikos Kouremenos Rev. George Kondothra (ORIEN) Canonical Courses Theodoros Yagou (JER) Jovic Rastko (SER) Most of the Academic Staff are members of CEMES. The Dissertation During the third semester, students submit their Dissertation, an individual project on a subject relating to their studies and career. The topic is chosen by the student with input and advice from a faculty member, who acts as supervisor, working closely with the student. The dissertation is an individual 10,000-word paper of original scientific work, which upon completion is submitted for examination and approval by a three-member committee chaired by the student's supervisor Schedule Students are required to successfully complete 90 ECTS. A. The first semester covers an introductory course (worth 6 ECTS) and 5 core courses (worth 6 ECTS each). B. The second semester covers the 8 elective courses (worth 3 ECTS each), taken from both direction, at least 4 from OET Each teaching term has 13 teaching weeks through distance learning instruction and seminar work or educational exposures, followed by a 6-day exam period. C. The third semester is taken up with work on the master’s dissertation (worth 30 ECTS). The Master in Orthodox Ecumenical Theology offers a critical and multifarious study of Christianity, from the traditional focus of the Christian Faith to the present-day realities. The obtained skills that the graduates develop will allow them to work in Educational Institutions and Academies, concentrating on classical Christian Theology, in contemporary missionary work and Church administration, Archaeological Departments, Research Institutes, Museums, etc.
B. INTER-ORTHODOX MASTER PROGRAM IN "GEOPOLITICS AND RELIGION"
he 2nd Direction of the MOET master Program is in GEOPOLITICS AND RELIGION. It is an online distant Post-graduate Program. It is a forward-looking ambitious and very timely program, aiming at examining the religious phenomenon in its geopolitical dimension in a wide range of areas, from cultural heritage, national identity, international politics, world economy, international law, business, engineering, environment, to inter-religious relations and ecclesiastical policies, following all international standards of excellence and the critical study pursued in modern academic scholarship. It has a threefold aim: • Provide research and education in the field of geopolitics and its effects in all the above-mentioned areas that meet the needs of the 21st century research in local, regional, and international level in a transnational environment. • Enhance understanding of the ecumenical, socio-economic, ecological and gender issues facing the secular - as well as the faith - communities and the society at large – through teaching and research of highest academic standards. • Create an international, multi-ethnic, multi-cultural and diverse student and faculty community to foster greater understanding between cultures, nations, and religious traditions. Academic Committee
Emeritus Professor Paschalis Kitromilidis | Professor of History | member of the Academy of Athens.
Emeritus Professor Petros Vassiliadis I Professor of Biblical Theology | Aristotle University of Thessaloniki
Professor Evangellos Venizelos I Professor of Constitutional Law | Aristotle University of Thessaloniki
Professor Elizabeth Prodromou | Professor of Diplomacy | Fletcher Tufts University of USA (Director)
Schedule This direction in Geopolitics and Religions is a 14-month program of study comprised of three parts over three semesters. Eligible for registration are holders of any under-graduate diploma from accredited higher education institutions. It is taught exclusively in English. Students are required to successfully complete 90 ECTS. - In the first semester the students of this direction are obliged to take the introductory course and 5 core courses (worth 6 ETCS each) . - In the second semester all students will attent 8 elective courses (worth 3 ECS each), taken from both directions, at least 4 from GEO (geopolitical direction). - The third semester is taken up with work on the Master' s dissertation (worth 30 ETCS). Each teaching term has 13 teaching weeks through distance synchronic and a-synchronic instruction and seminar work, followed by a 6-day examination period. Target audience The Master Program. is addressed to English-speaking graduate students of all disciplines, who wish to acquire or broaden their specialization through online instruction aiming at a profound knowledge of the effects of geopolitics on the religious and faith communities, as well as the religious phenomenon in the secular life of the society at large in a multi- cultural and multi-religious context. Ideal career path The Master Program offers a critical and multifarious study of the religious, inter-faith and ecumenical relations, affected by secular and various geopolitical factors and ambitions to focus both on the traditional understanding of any Faith tradition and on their witness to present day realities. The obtained skills that the graduates develop will allow them to work in secular and religious environments, in educational and business and academic institutions, in Church administration, and in other relevant areas. Instructors and the Core and elective Courses First Term 0.Elizabeth Prodromou & N. DImitriadis 6 ECTS Introductory course to Geopolitics The Core Courses 1.Paschalis Kitromilidis 6 ECTS Modernity, Religion and Geopolitics 2.Elizabeth Prodromou 6 ECTS Human Rights, Diplomacy and Geopolitics 3.Evaggellos Venizelos 6 ECTS Geopolitics & International Law 4. Dimitris Stamatopoulos 6 ECTS History of Religions and Geopolitics 5. Petros Vassiliadis 6 ECTS Christian Religion and Geopolitics Altogether 36 ECTS Second Term ELECTIVE COURSES (3 ECTS Each) 1.Sergii Bortnyk Orthodox Church & Geopolitics (Ukraine case) 1.Diogenis Karagiannakidis Orthodox Church and Geopolitics (Mt Athos case) 1.Kostas Mygdalis Orthodox Church and Geopolitics (IAO case) 2 Dimitrios Keramidas Interfaith Dialogue, Ecology & Geopolitics 3. Dimitrios Moschos (GR) Church History and & Geopolitics 4. Stylianos Muksuris (EP) Liturgical Theology& Geopolitics 5.Cyril Hovorun Inter-Christian Relations and Geopolitics 6.Augustinos Bairaktaris Ecclesiology and Geopolitics 7.Dimitrios Passakos Social Studies and Geopolitics 8.Denia Athanasopoulou-Kypriou Feminist Theology and Geopolitics
FRIDAY 9.12.22 : “Orthodox Anthropology: Soul, Body and Death”. Archbishop Lazar Puhalo Coordinator: Rev. Prof. Augustinos Bairaktaris (Debaters: Emer. Prof. Georgios Martzelos – Rev. Prof. Cyril Hovorun)
FRIDAY 3.2.23 : “The Social Dimension of Eucharistic Ecclesiology” Rev. Prof. Stylianos Muksuris Coordinator: Metropolitan Prof. Job Getcha (Debaters: Rev. Prof. Andriy Dudchenko – Rev. Prof. Cristian Sonea) FRIDAY 10.2.23 Βιβλική στρογγυλή τράπεζα:“Η Χριστιανική κοινωνική διδασκαλία”. Συντονίζει ο Ομότ. Καθ. Πέτρος Βασιλειάδης, και μετέχουν οι: καθ. Δημήτριος Πασσάκος – Δρ. π. Γεώργιος Aδάμ - Δρ. Γεώργιος Μπασιούδης - καθ. Νικόλαος Δημητριάδης FRIDAY 22.2.2023 : “The Archbishopric of Ohrid in the Orthodox Communion. Expectations and Perspectives” Coordinator: Emer. Prof. Petros Vassiliadis (Speakers: Prof. Dimitrios Keramidas – Prof. Svetoslav Riboloff- Prof. Gjoko Gjorgjevski) FRIDAY 24.2.2023 : “Russian Orthodox Social Ethics in Peace and in War” Emer. Prof. Andrii Krawchuk Coordinator: Prof. Antoine Arjakovsky (Debaters: Prof. Dimitrios Moschos – Prof. Tamara Grdzelidze)
FRIDAY 7.4.23 Round Table on the Way toward the 1.700th Anniversary of the 1st Ecumenical Council. Coordinated by Emer. Prof. Petros Vassiliadis, with short interventions by Metr. of Pisidia, Prof. Job Getcha, Archb. of Chernihiv Efstratios Zora, Rev. Prof. Ihor Shaban, Rev. Dr. Adalberto Mainardi FRIDAY 21.4.2023 “The Prophetic Eschatology and Nationalism in Orthodox Church's Mission” Rev. Prof. Cristian Sonea - Dr. Nikos Kouremenos: Coordinator: Prof. Dimitrios Keramidas (Rev. Prof. Ihor Shaban– Rev. Dr. Adalberto Mainardi) FRIDAY 28.4.2023 “Ορθοδοξία και Οικουμενικές σχέσεις. Από την Αγία και Μεγάλη Σύνοδο στο Κείμενο για το Κοινωνικό Έθος της Ορθόδοξης Εκκλησίας” Καθ. π. Αυγουστίνος Μπαϊραχτάρης Συντονιστής: Καθ. Στυλιανός Τσομπανίδης (Συζητούν: Καθ. Δημήτριος Κεραμιδάς – Δρ. Μαρία Σερέτη) FRIDAY 5.5.23 : “The Concept of Religious Diversity within the Project of Protection & Security of Places of Worship (PROSECUW)”. Prof. Nikolaos Dimitriadis Coordinator: Dr. Nikolaos Kouremenos (Debaters: Metr. Prof. Vassilios Karagiannis – Metr. Alexander Gianniris) FRIDAY 12.5.2023 : “ΕκκλησίακαιΚόσμος. Κοινωνιολογική προσέγγιση του Κοινωνικού Έθους της Ορθόδοξης Εκκλησίας” Καθ. Χριστόφορος Αρβανίτης Συντονιστής: Δρ. Kωνσταντίνος Ζορμπάς (Συζητούν: Καθ. Nίκη Παπαγεωργίου – Δρ. Κλεάνθης Νιζάμης)
FRIDAY 19.5.23: “Από την Εκκλησιαστική Ιστορία στην Εκκλησία στην Ιστορία και την Κοινωνία” Καθ. Δημήτριος Μόσχος Συντονιστής: Καθ. Πέτρος Παναγιωτόπουλος (Συζητούν: Δρ. Θεοδόσιος Κυριακίδης – Δρ. Nικόλαος Kουρεμένος)
Prof. Nicolas Abou Mrad's presentation
Priestess of woman (1) “You also be built up, as living stones, a spiritual house, and an holy priesthood” (1D2:5) There are many things that we are used to and deal with in our church life, and they have become part of it and Muslims, so we don't look much into their positions, meanings and members. Among these things, no, but the most important, priests. One of the symptoms of our neglecting the accountability of the written texts, and what our traditions and church history knew on this particular dimension, is what goes on here and there, and some of the attitudes that this or that adopts, regarding whether a "priest" is a job that a woman can perform, in the church, or not. And more importantly, before asking this question, see if there are, essentially, a “priests” for men in Christianity. And the answer to that question is not obvious. In order to present this topic with utmost accuracy, and to avoid confusion, we often see in a few writings that deal with the subject of "priests" in general, and "priests of women" in particular, as an example of non-discrimination between priests, bishops, shamousism and Discipleship, apostle, testimony, preaching, teaching, beginning, I would like to point out that, when I talk about Priests, in this article and what follows, I mean what is referred to in Greek as "ierateuma", such as "iereus (priest), "archiereus" (head priests, and in Latin volgatas pontifex), or in Latin as "sacerdotium" Including a sacerdoce (priest) My reader, please do not associate these phrases, say less now, with other phrases used in the New Testament and Christian scriptures, referring to church functions, such as bishop, sheikhs, presbuteros, deacon/servant. Every position has its own essay. My reader used to eat my topics, on this page, starting from my Bible reading, and I will not deviate from this principle in the subject of priests. However, due to the extensive scope of research, my reader should allow me to devote more than one article to this subject, so that I can explain as far as I can, and have a logical follow-up of the proposal to the end. I know that this is prickly for some, but the right that we all seek requires us to be serious and to be modest together, the seriousness of the world and the learner, and the modesty of the world and learned. One who reads the New Testament observes, clearly, that the term "ierateuma" and its longing does not connect to any work based on painting and laying of hands, as we know it in the church today. The term “priest” (iereus), in the New Testament, often refers to a function in the Orshelem structure, in the context of violent criticism or severe opposition to Jesus and Jesus, and his disciples and them. Jesus alone, in the message to the Hebrews, is called a priest, often, in connection with his saying, "in the rank of a true friend," and in the context of the general message, is a comparison between the structure, its sacrifices, its priesthood or presidency, and the Christ, the redemption through him and his priesthood and him being the head of the universe H A N E N E The term “priests” and “priests” applies to the whole Christian community, twice in 1 Peter (1 Peter 2:5, 9), and three times in John (Rev. 1:6; 5:10; 20:6). In the next two articles sold, I will address the subject of the priesthood of Christ in the letter to the Hebrews, what it means for Christ to be a "forever, on the rank of a true royal," priest, and the subject of the priests of the believers, as presented in the message of Peter I and John. I concur here on the observations made above, and on some brief historical observations about the uses of the term "priests" and its derivatives in Christianity, highlighting the fact that the term priest (iereus) was first pronounced on the bishop's job in what is known as the seeds of a bishop Licarpos, a collection of writings attributed to the bishop Polycarpos, which, if proven, You go back to the end of the 2nd century or early 3rd century. While the term priests were used to refer to “presbuteroi”, communism was only recorded in the later centuries, especially beginning in the fifth century, probably under influence of the origin who borrowed, in his writings, the term “priest/priests” from the Old Testament, and used to For reference to bishops and elders. However, the use of Origins of this phrase falls within the interpretive thought of Origins, which is based on the distinction between shadow and truth, and considering the structure of Jerusalem and its service as a shadow of the worshipful Christian society that holds the perfection of truth, and I will dedicate an article to this matter to an important one. Yes, not just interpretive, but liturgically as well. The golden-mouth book, "In the Priests," came to consecrate, starting in the late fourth century, if the ratio is correct—and estimated to be chronologically late to post the fifth century—a job of a "thanks finisher" as a priesthood. And this is what will become a tradition in the following centuries, and the development of this idea carried out to this day. In conclusion, the New Testament does not include what confirms the existence of a functional priesthood in Christianity, parallels the priesthood of the structure, but the opposite is true, the writings of the New Testament bear harsh criticism of the priests and rejection of it, and then completely exclude it to Jesus, who puts it as a priesthood rank from outside the Traditional Leviticus dynasty, and the priests are distributed to all Believers are in relationship with their faith and life in Christ. And that’s what we’ll be exposed to in the articles to come. (Followed, please do not anticipate conclusions, and whoever wants to anticipate them, it is none of my business with what you reach Ρriestess of woman (2) "Swear to the Lord and will not regret it: you are a priest for ever and ever on the righteous royal rank" (Psalm 110:4) In the opening of the fifth and final part of Psalms, in the place where Christ the Lord, who previously chanted out his pains and oppressed the wicked, then God's salvation, arrives at the gates of the new Zion, built with stones are the words of God, and his commandments are his commandments, adorned with his presence in pain wisdom LIVE- He enters, beginning with Psalm 110, as a king and a priest Forever. And his entry comes, after the "kings of the earth and its chiefs" who conspired against him and his God had fallen, and after the structure and what is associated with it (Psalm 74). The psalmist, in his full summary of the Bible in hymns, the Christ of the Lord wanted to enter New Zion, not only as a king ("Lift up, O chiefs, your gates, let the King of glory enter") but as a priest for ever, and as he adds, "at the rank of a righteous king," in which they were God's priesthood The former eats, the righteous only join from them, to whom they want to follow "The Christ" to New Zion, chanting the salvation of the Lord, and wandering around Him to hear His teaching in wisdom and word. This is the journey of psalms It is clear to those who study the Psalms that the organizer who knows the teaching and writing of the Bible, breaks the Leviticus priests and the service of the structure, in perfect accordance with the prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel, and that, for example, the latter, makes the center of the New Zion, The presence of God in Christ the only king and priest. In the New Testament, the Epistle writer goes to Hebrews, laying out his message, step-by-step, the path of the Psalms, so that we can consider it the most NT as the Psalms travel quote. It is as if he is proseing what the psalms have written in poetry. He builds his thesis and teaching on the verse of the royal priesthood, in comparison, which takes the greatest bias in his message, between the structure of Jerusalem, its priests and massacres, New Zion, its only priest and its sacrifice, to conclude that the first has passed away, and the second remains forever, as its priest forever Yeh, who on the rank of royal honest. who is my honest king ? In answer to this question, let me observe from the book. Before the creation of Aaron the Leviticus priesthood, in the Exodus, to serve the tent of meeting at the Exodus march (starting from the last 24), the cleric hits two to the priest – before the third judicial blow also, in the Golden Calf, after the creation of the Haronic Priests – in a position YEN: First, in Ecclesiastes 4:14-16, where the Lord gives "Aaron the Leviticus" a prophetic job instead of his priesthood, in service to Moses making him "God" to Aaron, and he says to Moses "put your words in his mouth... And you shall have a mouth and you shall be his God,” just as God does with Isaiah (Isaiah 6:7), Jeremiah (Jer 1:9), and Ezekiel (Hez 3:1-3) - the three were priests and God made them prophets. This observation is of great importance, because replacing priests with prophecy, we will also encounter him, forcefully, in the prophets, and then upon Paul the apostle who puts prophecy at the top of the list of talents (1 Cor 12), without mentioning priests. Again, in Tek 14:18-20, the only place we hear about a honest king in the book: “And my king, a righteous king, a peaceful king of Shalem, bring out bread and wine.” And he was a priest of God the Most High. God blessed him and said: "Blessed is Abraham from God Almighty, the owner of the heavens and the earth, and blessed is God Almighty, who has delivered your enemies into your hand." So he gave him a tithe of everything. "The singular story of a honest king is like that, short, concise, and it only tells us that he was a priest of the Most High God," his name means "King of righteousness," and he is a king of Shalem, meaning "King of Peace," or a place called "Peace". He does not offer sacrifices, but bread and wine. Enter the story of Abraham as if it was not his origin, and as if it was from the beginning. And he comes out of it, like it’s endless, like it goes on forever. But he tells the story as the light shines in the darkness, giving the blessing to Abraham and moving on, and then, Abraham's story takes a direction he carries to the eternal divine promise, which the book says is fulfilled in Jesus Christ. “This is my honest king, a peaceful king, the priest of God on high, who received Abraham returning from the kingship and blessed him, whom Abraham had sworn ten times to him.” The translator is firstly "King of Justice" then also "King of Peace" i.e. "King of Peace", without father, without mother, without offspring. There is no beginning of days and no end of life. But he is like the Son of God. "He remains a priest for ever" (Heb 7:1-3) Between my king Sadiq king of Shalom and the priest of God the High, and between the kings of Israel and their priests, there is a vast difference, shortened it as follows: while the priests of Jerusalem and its kings carry their city to ruin (read the Prophets), my king Sadiq carries the story of Abraham and his promise to their eternal fulfillment. Therefore, in my conviction, the writer of Hebrews has placed Christ priesthood a true royal rank: for in Christ is the kingdom of righteousness and truth, and peace, not only to Jerusalem, but to the whole world, who blessed the bread and wine as a mark of his death and resurrection, and in remembrance of his advancement to himself, until as time goes by. Between a true king and the Christ who is in his rank, everything is nullified, every priesthood and every structure, and Jesus becomes the only priest, the only one who has made the Holy of Holies to atone for the sins of men once and for all, by which the eternal promise of God to Abraham has become a fulfilled promise, with a lasting son and An endless blessing to all the nations of the earth. And the writer of Hebrews said, "For it was appointed among us a high priest like this, holy without evil or defamation, who was separated from sin, and became exalted above the heavens, who is not." a priest that he should offer sacrifices first for the sins of himself and then for the sins of the people, for he had done it once, then He introduced himself. Mosquitoes establish people with whom they are weak chief priests. But for the word of the oath after the mosquitoes, it will establish a son in perfect condition for ever. " (Acts 7:26-28). While the New Testament follows the footsteps of the Old Testament, breaking the structure and its priesthood, and bringing prophecy as a channel that carries the words of God to men, Christ appears as one priest, who has no father or mother, like a true king, but from God cometh and to him proceed, and so he had peace, and his kingdom was the Peace. And so, as we will see in tomorrow's essay, all the people of his kingdom are priests, as the Lord wills. Priestess of women (3) The royal priests “But you are a chosen race, and a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a chosen people, that you may declare the virtues of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light” (1 Timothy 2:9) Apostle Peter says this for those who call them "the diasporas" residing in the cities of Asia minor (1 Peter 1:1). And by this phrase, those who believed from the Jews the gospel of Jesus Christ, and were living outside the land of Judaism. And the deeper spoilt to describe them as "expatriates from the diaspora," is not geographically so much as connected to the scriptural concept of alienation, which we find in the story of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, which is to stay in the land that the Lord called Abraham to proceed to after he had left his homeland and his tribe and Yat Abih, i.e. renounce all belongingness to things This land, obeyed the call of God and believed in the promised salvation and the abundance of offspring, that is, that out of it God would produce people who will be like his image, faith in his word and obedience to the ultimate sacrifice. Emphasizing this connection between the “people of the diaspora” and the stories of Genesis, Peter, in the first verse of this letter, in Greek origin, uses the phrase “parepidimos” that comes to the tongue of Abraham (in the seventies translation) in his own speech to the son of Huth, saying, “I am grey.” B, and it will come to you" (Tek 23:4) And the fact that the adjective of "stranger" or "stranger" accompanies the story of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and it is strongly present in their journey, so that the reader gets the impression that the writer only wants them as "strangers" or "strangers" on the land where God guided them and called them to walk according to His word. he is among the nations And the Loft, in Genesis, upon which the Prophet's Petrus is based, that the promise of offspring becomes to Abraham while he is in his foreign land or alienation, and in the words of the Lord to the one who called him to leave his land, his tribe and his father's house, that this land of foreign land I give it to you and we will take it after you an eternal king. And I will be their God" (Tek 17:8) What is meant by this is that the "foreign land" remains a foreign land, and the people are not turned into it after an invitation to the inhabitants of the land or its owners, but they are strangers to everything except to walk in the word of the Lord, which he called them, by the faith that Abraham had, and was justified (Tek 15: 6). In this sense, the Book of Genesis, brilliantly, combines two contradictory concepts: the nation—or the people—and alienation. The nation is not a nation, nor the people a people, in the civilized concept, unless it belongs to its own land and creates a political entity focused on power, control and a system of governance. As for in the book, Abraham was not a people and a nation unless he was cloned from his belonging to a particular land and a political entity as the entities of the peoples, and lived an eternal alienation. From that impulse, Peter 1:23 continues to address the scattered people in his first message, inviting them to love one another. That is, he calls them not to see themselves as a nation or race, people or country, because, having believed in Christ who died for them and died for them, and in God who raised them from the dead, they are "born with the word of the living God," that is, they have abandoned their civilized identity, and are nullified To be born to ancestors of who A particular nation, to be born again by the word of God. “For every body and all the glory of a human being is like a flower of grass; the grass withers and its flower has fallen. But the word of the Lord stands forever. And this is the word with which you were preached” (1 Duck 1:24-25). Belongings perish, identities perish in the deadly "clash of civilizations", and countries are transformed, but God wanted people, when he called them, to belong to what is not fading, that is, to the word of his love, that love that is on the image of Christ, who was hidden in the world with his blood, and which, even if he had died, unless Allah raised him from the dead Until he pleases the righteous in the light of his word. To those foreigners and scattered among the nations, like Abraham in the calling land, Peter says, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people set for a possession, that you may declare the virtues of him who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light” (1 Peter 2:9). His extensive use of phrases indicating belonging to a civilized and ethnic entity attracts us: you are a gender, a priest, a nation, and a people. The term sex indicates ethnic affiliation, and the nation and the people are two phrases that are connected to identity and state killings or civil affiliation in the political dimension, while the term priests is connected to the centralization of the religious structure of a people of peoples, and this structure is linked administratively and authoristically friendly. Depending on the king or state. However, the letter writer, based on Genesis and Exodus, empties these phrases from their familiar meanings, connecting them to what we wanted above in terms of belonging to the Word of God. Genos, which refers to the sum of people belonging to a particular race by birth, homosexuality, derived from the same root as genneo which means "to give birth," the writer connects it to the second birth spoken of in 1 Duck 1:23. Believers in Christ do not belong to a gender because they are born to their parents' race, colour, or descent, but because, having been born into mortal and decaying flesh, they are born again by the Living Word of God. They have not returned to a falsehood they received from their parents, but they have returned to the history of Christ, who called them to “purify yourselves in obedience to the truth through the Spirit, and love one another with a pure heart” (1 Peter 1:22). They are a “chosen gender” because they were taught love that knows no hypocrisy, and walked in truth and purity, not because they are higher than other peoples or stayed stronger. Then Peter also calls them a nation and a people, not because they are clinging around a state and political entity, or because they belong to a kingdom or empire, and subject to a ruling sultan, they are distracted and alienated, as he calls them at the beginning of the message. He called them so, because they became a nation and a nation in subjection to the word of God, which called them to be steadfast in truth and fidelity, absolute love and obedience to justice and benevolence, to be a blessing to all peoples and an example for them that these also may walk in good faith and glorify God for their deeds (1 Duck 2:12) And to crown it all, the apostles, based on Ecclesiastes 19:6, call them “royal priests.” And the fact that the phrase "royal priests" is the Greek translation we find in the seventies of the Hebrew origin "kingdom of priests" which is answered in this verse from Exodus, saying: "Now if you listen to my voice and keep my covenant ye shall be mine of all peoples, for the whole earth is mine." And you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation." This comes from the clip that talks about the Lord appearing to Moses coming down Mount Horeb to give him his law, crowning leaving Egypt and reaching the mountain of God to worship Him. And before the Lord came down into the mountain in glory and glory, and before Moses delivered his commandments, which the expatriates of Egypt must go into, the Lord say to Moses these words to bring it to the children of Israel. Perhaps the phrase royal priesthood or priesthood is the most important here, and it must be understood, the other, against the context in which the writer of Exodus puts us. The significance of this phrase is that it is used here on a scale not seen in any other texts in the Old Testament, and, of course, not found in any of the Old East religious context. The priesthood has a specific meaning and so is its job, and it is an organically connected link to the central structure subject to the king directly, and it has specific functions, and its transition from one person to another takes place under strict conditions, including physical injuries in the Israeli priesthood, for example. However, the word of the Lord to Moses, who was supposed to lean on the mountain with his glory and give his commandments, is called priests to those who obey his commandments and keep his covenant all of them, regardless of the origin of their job. The importance given to this priesthood “rank”, is expressed by the word “kingdom” or “royalty”, which links this general priests directly to the King, and the King here is none but God Himself. The scene the Exodus gives us, at this point, is this: God is King after the fall of Pharaoh and the people exiting Egypt, and God is also the God who will descend on his mountain as a structure for him. And in this structure, all who obey his word are his priests directly connected to him. Later the exodus of Aaron's own priesthood will speak, but this priesthood will call specific jobs most important to the sacrifice, and he will be subject to severe criticism, and God will end the priesthood dynasty in the prophets, while royal priesthood is connected to obeying God's word, and his commandments and work by it, and he is the only priesthood that will continue until the end of the new covenant, until The travel of the vision And this is a great indication. Against this background, Peter uses the term “royal priests” in his first message, and the context he follows is a particular exit context: the immigrants from the diaspora between nations, those who have left their people, peoples, lands, and kings, and wandered into a land that is not theirs, but to God, who owns the earth. All of them, and there, when they became in the house of foreigners from Egypt, Pray that they might be a nation and nation in their foreign land, born, as Isaac, not by flesh, but by the word of God, the living for ever. These become priests of God, the King of all the earth, if they accept His word and become his own, and their priesthood job is to “tell of the virtues of God, who called them out of darkness into His wonderful light.” On this basis, we can say that a royal priesthood is the role of priests in teaching, preaching and keeping the word of God, and that they become, by being scattered among the nations, a blessing to nations, that by their deeds and good conduct, the nations find their way to God, the King of all the earth. It is worth reminding in my previous articles that the term priesthood, in the New Testament, refers only to Jesus Christ, who, according to the letter to the Hebrews, becomes the highest priesthood rank, nullifies the priesthood of the structure, because he has become a chief priest who does not need to make a sacrifice Fesa, Kaharon and his sons, and about the people, but forward Himself is once a sacrifice to God the Father for all people. After Christ, believers come in Him, bearing in their conduct, love and loyalty to the word of truth, the image of His priesthood, to meet before all people, an invitation to repentance. The term priesthood is entirely absent from the other functions in the church called by other names, bishop, sheikh, servant/deacon, royal priesthood remains an invitation to all who have accepted the redemption by the blood of Jesus to bear on their forehead the mark of the cross, and embark on a constant alienation from all that is in it The world is gone from vanity, and to be born Everyday with the word of God and be filled with love and good deeds. Only, by this, does he become a true priest of God the Most High, always standing before His face. At the end of this article, back to the topic. Are there any priests for women? Of course, whoever answers the exile, based on the contexts and advocates I have provided so far, may have misunderstood the book, and how the priests present its meanings. There is no difference between men and women in the priesthood vocation in the higher sense. However, the question remains among churches today, having distinguished us between the biblical priesthood, and the jobs of bishop, sheikh and deacon referred to in the New Testament, can a woman hold on to the duties of a bishop, sheik, or deacon? I'll be eating this in the articles for the next few days. I will begin with a liturgical and historical presentation of the factors that led to the Church's view of the functions of bishop, sheikhs and deacons as priesthood. This is going to take me a while. And whoever follows me, please have some patience. Priests of Women (4) The shadow of the celestial “See that you do everything according to the example which I showed you in the mountain” (Heb 8:5) Whenever I sit in my desk to write today's essay on women's priesthood, I feel the need to clarify many things before answering our fundamental question: Can women become priests, or hold on to the jobs of bishops, sheikhs and deacons? Although my answer is instinctive and easy, and I can now answer, simply, "yes" or "no", but the ease of the answer, in my conviction, assumes, beginning, that we complete the path to it. And I said, in my first post (Women's priesthood 1), the question above, is preceded by another question: Is there, in essence, a priesthood for men? I clarified, in the previous two days, that the New Testament summarizes the priesthood in Jesus Christ, according to the message to the Hebrews, and the message generalizes itself, as well as the travel of revelation, the priesthood to all believers, men and women of course, elders and children, in inviting them to accept the word of God For him, and to her testimony. And the question I would like to clarify today is: Where is the origin of this pastoral service of the Word? In response to this question, there is a dynamic movement, in the Old Testament travels, in displaying and serving the Divine Tabernacle, and simply, I refer to four levels: First Level: In the last 24-30, we read about God's instructions to Moses for building the Tabernacle where he is commanded to put up the Tablet of the Law, the Ten Commandments. The Tabernacle is served by Moses as a prophet, and Aaron as a priest after Moses cleanses it with sacrifices to enable him to enter the Tabernacle to serve God's Word in the Tabernacle. At this level, the job of a priest in the dorm is limited to the service of the word, and the job of the sacrifice is to prepare the priest for that service. And service is taking the word of God and bringing it to people. Second Level: Immediately after God gave Moses his commandments to build the Tabernacle to serve his word, Aaron sets up a golden wheel and practices, with the people, his ritual of worship. Worshipers of the Golden Calf invoke God's wrath and punishment, so his dwelling is pulled out from the midst of the people, and he separates in the dwelling, between the "Holy of Holies," where the commandments, which only Moses enters, and the priests are forbidden to enter, and between the place of the altar where the priests offer sacrifices for their sins and the sins of the people . Alone Moses enters Jerusalem of the Holy Mosques, which is separated by a veil from the rest of the Tabernacle, and he reads, also, that his servant, Joshua bin Nun, was a permanent resident there. And Joshua, as the book says, is a little slave - we'll see the importance of that later. Third Level: Solomon builds the structure in Jerusalem and has the Holy of Holies to place the Coffin of the Covenant bearing the Table of the Commandments. However, God, immediately after the structure was built and consecrated, declares its destruction, because of the betrayal of the king and his people. Following are stories of the Covenant Coffin being lost and then being found. The banner is that the two kings that the book says found the Covenant Covenant Coffin and returned it to the structure, are Josiah and Hezekiah, and the only two kings that the Book says about are Sarah according to the will of God. Needless to say, the movement of the Covenant Coffin to and from the structure is connected with whether or not the Word of God is kept. Josiah is the last to see the coffin, then Jerusalem and its structure fall, and the coffin is gone forever. At this level, the role of priests is to offer sacrifices because of sin, but the holy of holies, only the chief priests enters it, once a year, to atone for himself and the people. As if the word of God fell, serving the structure far. It is in the book that the presence of God in His word in the structure has expired, and the structure has become a place for betrayal. And that structure eventually comes down. The fourth level: This level comes in the prophecy of Ezekiel. And it meets the first tier. There is a great ambiance between the presence of Allah and the speech of the Prophet. Just as God spoke to Moses about building the house and its details, God spoke to Ezekiel about the building and its details—building is never called a structure in Ezekiel, it’s called a house. What distinguishes the house of Ezekiel is that God returns to dwell in it forever in his word that comes out of it and overflows to the whole earth. There are no kings in the house, no priests, but those who are present around the word of God become servants of his word and sent to all the earth. The name of the place where the house of God is located in Ezekiel is “the Lord is there”. We note that the major element that controls movement between these four levels of divine presence in the dwelling, is the word of God. She is the center of worship. It tempts us, in the first level, that God wanted the Haronic priests to be connected in his service, with the holy word of God. Everything that the priest is instructed to do, and all acts of worship, is a response to the word given to the priest who carries this word and conveys it, as a mediator to the people. And with only this essential job, his other functions of purge and massacres are understood. That's because sacrifices, as I said, were only wanted by God, so that the priest can be cleansed so that he can come before the word, take it, and take it to the people. In the book of Exodus this never happened. Aaron and his sons did not blaspheme to God on this level. On the contrary, they distorted the Word of God when they erected the Golden Calf and said to the people, “These are your gods, Israel, the one who brought you out of Egypt.” The first level of God's presence and worship of God with the word remained a desirable level, the second level was not achieved because God prevented the priests from entering the holy shrines and wearing hijab. And the third level was not achieved, which God ruled to destroy after building it, and in it the coffin of the covenant was lost forever. The first level came back to the fourth level presence, until John said about the "word of God" he became flesh and dwells in us, that is his dwelling in us, to return in Christ the presence of God in people, this is the fifth level I will talk about tomorrow, and his ministry to you Hanutia. Appendix I thank friend Hanna Haider who reminded me of this talk to Bishop George Green on the subject of whether women are entitled to be in church functions. The conversation with the bishop took place in the year 1993, and his speech to the one whom I conveyed honestly took place in 1992. Here's the talk: "- Your Excellency Bishop, in our age, the concepts that equate a woman to a man have increased, and you came up with this idea, as it appears from your thoughts and writings ... How does Bishop George Khidr see this issue and how does he support it? Green: I only came to this situation after 30 years of frequent, thinking and contemplating it, until it was proven to me by science that a woman is as smart as a man ... And this is a big lie, and it's all a big lie, a little more emotional than the man ... Not more loving than a man, not more in love than a man more angry ... Religion is the same for man and woman with the same power. At first, I thought she leaned to literature and poetry, and in my days they raised her like that, she teaches literature, embroidery experience, stories and I don't know what... - I mean here in their class? Green: What, they classify and control women .. Then it turns out that she becomes a defense minister, which means she sits with senior officers and talks about tanks and military aircraft... It means she has a strange mind to know the details of matters and she becomes the President of the Republic and by the standard of the Prime Minister of many of us Arabs and others, there is nothing that prevents her and gives great production... I mean, poor people did not know that Myths were ruled by the people that it is for the house to give birth. - So if I present you with the equality of men and women in life, are you with their equality in the church? Should a woman become a shepherd or a patriarch? Green: Of course, I pondered about this because it has an effect in the West.... We are in the Eastern Church after a long time, is it a walking topic? They talk about a little more, but we have to face western thinking ... I guess I'm a kid in theology... I guess it's okay to be a priest by my theology... A Quranic pastor or a bishop or something... What's the matter ... Come on in practice - What prevents such a thing? Green: There is only a practical story that can be prevented or what can be prevented, and that can be overcome one day. Now the practical story is related to women's hormones to the other. And the changes that happen every month are like this .... Now, this is a begos, one can get over it, because some women in Barcelona have symptoms for two or three days, and some women with medicines, they get over it, are there any problems ... - What does this mean, there is no problem ... Green: This is no longer a problem with the truth for that, I imagine that even the Eastern Church - now the Western churches are not Anglican Catholic and Evangelical Protestantism, all have priests and female monarchs, which means a woman comes to rule 500 priests. - Do you encourage Helshey in your church? Green: I don't encourage I just wait for it to come true.... - And what are you upset about? Green: Nope nope nope nope - It means there is no religious mistake Green: Once upon a time ... What I think takes a long time to form... I used to think that women are not qualified to lead because the story of priests and bishops has leadership and prayer.. Then I came to believe that a woman is fit to lead where she orders... And I wonder more often. About a radio talk with Bishop George Green 2012
VLADIKA LAZAR PUHALO, THE SOUL, THE BODY & DEATH PROLOGUE "Regarding those things which are passed over insilenceintheDivineScripture,itismanifestthattheymustnotbesoughtout.TheHolySpiritrevealedtousthose things which it is to our profit to learn, andagain as for those things which are not profitable, Hekeptthemhidden.Butsincemanisanargumentativeand inquisitive creature, whatever we have been ableto learn from the Holy Fathers, as it were somewhatdimly, this also shall I attempt to make clear to you"(StAnastasiosofSinai).1
The fathers have enjoined us repeatedly that we not be curious concerning the soul after death, its condition or its state. For, "a wicked and perverse generation seeks after signs."2 To seek such proofs of the objects of faith is to renounce faith, for "Faith is the essence of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."3 Faith is the tool of salvation, but if we seek proof, then we no longer seek faith, if we strive to know of a certainty what transcends all knowledge, then we crush our own spirit and kill our own faith. Bearing these injunctions in mind, and determined to conform, with God's help, to the promise of our father amongst the saints, Anastasios of Sinai, that we say only "what we have been able to learn from the Holy Fathers," it has become necessary to write somewhat concerning the soul, the body and death, and concerning the judgment and our prayers for those who have fallen asleep. Surely no one would undertake to write on such a subject lightmindedly, or without some fear, and no one would venture to set forth such a subject unless the circumstances of the time made it imperative. It is imper- ative now, because on every side, Orthodox people are beset by all manner of speculations, every sort of scientific, religious, occult and philosophical teaching about the nature of the soul and death, and the condition of souls after death. It is difficult enough for Orthodox people to keep their bearing in a world dedicated and committed to ungodliness and sin, but when they are seeking for truth and so much falsehood cleverly masquerades as truth, the struggle is rendered even more difficult. Thus, while it is a fearful thing to write on this subject, it seems that under the circumstances, it would be almost a sinful thing not to. For in avoiding the task, we would be leaving the faithful prey to a host of falsehoods while keeping the truth buried in obscurity. There is, at present, a considerable vogue in academic and occult speculation on the nature of the state of the soul after it departs the body. Most of these speculations are inspired by a nearly desperate desire of a post-Christian society to find some sort of proof that life continues after bodily death. As this society is post-Christian, it wants a proof that will exempt it from having to answer for the course and quality of life it chooses, of its own free will, to follow in this present existence. Death is the enemy of mankind, and a source of the utmost confusion and dread to a humanity deprived of true Christian hope. The idea that death is a final end of all human existence is also a source of avarice, self-centredness, the worship and exaltation of the pas- sions and the desire to feed the sensual pleasures to the utmost in this life. This is precisely why the Apostle says that, "Through fear of death, man was all his lifetime held in bondage by him who had the power of death, namely Satan," and, "The sting of death is sin."4 Mankind in general has always known that human existence does not cease with physical death, and those philosophies which have advocated the contrary have usually appeared in times of considerable material well-being and carnal self-indulgence. Such philosoph- ers, advocating that death is a final end to all existence, usually have a vested interest in advocating this: it frees their own conscience from the moral constraint of the possibility of having to answer later for the avarice, coarse materialism and selfish passions of this life. Developing a philosophy which denies all chance of judgment of the person is a way of conquering and defeating one's own conscience. It is, therefore, a psychopathic pursuit. Given then, that we accept the continuance of human existence after the repose of the person, there are a number of questions which arise in our minds: what is the nature of this continued existence, can we know about it from tangible, scientific or experiential evidence, or from faith only; what bearing do our conduct, spiritual directions in this life and faith have upon our state in that continued existence; what happens to the soul during that period when it is separated from the body; what is meant by judgment and when does it take place; what is the meaning of the prayers offered for those who have fallen asleep? To add to the confusion created by sectarian and occult writings on the soul and death, certain false teachings have crept into some of our own Orthodox texts, especially during the period of the Westernizers, when all manner of Latin and scholastic material found its way into our theological texts. Often these alien concepts and understandings were applied to Orthodox teachings, or to certain moral fables and moral allegories, and corrupt teachings were created. Such a terrible and corrupt teaching is the tollhouse myth,5 created by interpreting an ancient allegory according to Latin doctrine, which teaches that at death, a person's soul must pass through terrifying and dangerous aerial, demonic judgments. This particular subject is discussed in Appendix 2 of this work. In many instances, our whole concept of the nature of man, his relationship with God, the nature of the Holy Church, the judgment of the soul, God's mercy and justice, and of salvation (soteriology) itself, have been corrupted by Western influences primarily by the doctrine and philosophy of the "satisfaction theory of salvation" upon which rest such teachings as purgatory, toll-houses and the mechanical (really, "magical") theory of prayers for the departed. These false teachings present God as a remote, vengeful creature Who demands some degree of personal satisfaction for any, even minor, offences a person might commit against Him. Such teachings as these have hardened the hearts of many and turned many to atheism. In this work we will, with God's help, strive to present the Orthodox Christian understanding of these matters. Obviously, there are contrary views; views which either do not accept the authority of the Scripture, Church fathers and Sacred Tradition or which consider that there is some sort of stream of cosmic or gnostic consciousness which has equal or superior authority with them and which can create new theologies about which the former did not know. Within the Christian world, there are, generally speaking, two conceptions of the relationship between the body and the soul, and the state of the soul after the repose of the body. The first of these is the Orthodox Christian view, and it quite naturally conforms to the Hebraic understanding, as presented in the Old Testament and completed in the New Testament. After all, the Orthodox Church regards Herself as the New Israel, the continuation of the Old Testament Church in its fulfilled and completed state, in the "New Testament." Many of the later Christian religions maintain at least some aspects of these understandings. The other view, held to one degree or another by theosophists and many of the Western Christian religions, is essentially Gnostic, though it is present also in Origenism (more correctly, Platonism as developed by the early Christian heretic Origen and later neo-Platonist philosophers such as Augustine of Hippo.) As an example, in the first, the Orthodox under- standing, the "person" is considered to be composed of both soul and body in harmony. At death, the body is committed to the grave, while the soul continues to live by God's grace, not of itself, and it is assigned to a state of repose proper to itself by an act of the Will of God, existing completely by means of grace and functioning solely within the realm of grace, having a noetic per- ception of the joy and blessings which await it, or the sorrow and grief which await it. Thus, it awaits the resurrection of its other half, its body, in a state of grace. The Gnostic (and Origenistic) view holds that the soul is liberated from a physical prison at death,6 and thus functions even better than before death. It enters into a new freedom, exalts in the discovery that it can see, reason and discover new things even though it no longer has the other unit of its existence, the body, with the bodily senses. This Origenistic view includes a whole range of teachings about purgatories, experiences of exaltation, unspeakable horrors of souls pursued and tormented by demons, wanderings, hauntings, of souls hovering over their bodies, of transmigrations and even of returns to the body shortly after death. The difference between these two views is, as you see, quite great. Because of all this, hoping on the mercy of God and trusting the wisdom and grace of our holy and God-bearing fathers, it seems absolutely imperative to present, even if only in general terms, the Orthodox patristic teaching on these matters. ENDNOTES: 1. Answer 89. 2. Mt.16:4; Jn.4:48. 3. Hb.11:1. 4. Hb.2:14-15; 1Cor.15:56.
5. We are referring here to the novel teaching or doctrine of aerial judgments, which contains a clearly anti-Orthodox soteriology. There was, extremely rarely, a certain allegorical use of the expression "customs booths" (Greek:"telonia") to express to simple, illiterate people, the action of the conscience at the time of one`s death.
6. By contrast, the fathers always spoke of the sanctity of the physical body, and referred to our being delivered from the power of the "flesh", meaning the carnal lusts built up in our person, and from the carnal passions and frame of mind which dwell parasitically in the "flesh". When any one of the fathers speaks of the soul being "set free from the body", etc, it is evident that they mean it no longer has the use of the bodily senses through which it sins. By the same token, the body is freed of the ability to sin also, since the soul conceives the sin and the body carries it out. (See, e.g., Fr John Romanides, "The Nature and Destiny of Man" in The Greek Orthodox Theological Review, Vol.1 (series).
"Thelastenemythatshallbedestroyedisdeath.""Yetheretoomanmakesagain,namelydeath,andthecuttingoffofsinthatevilmaynotbeimmortal."1 In general, in the West, the concept of death and the soul after death is coloured by the Hellenic ideas of Western Scholasticism, and is founded on apocryphal and non-Christian sources. This is especially well evidenced by such teachings as Original Sin, which includes the notion of death as a formal punishment, Purgatory, the natural immortality of the soul, and other similar ideas, not least of which is a certain hedonism in the Western moral ideal, which sets as an object, a type of post-life epicureanism. The contemporary Greek theologian, Fr John Romanides remarks: "It would be highly illogical to try to interpret Pauline thought with the presupposition  that death is normal or,  that at most, it is the outcome of a juridical decision of God to punish the whole human race for one sin,  that happiness is the ultimate destiny of man, and  that the soul is immaterial, naturally immortal and as directly created by God at conception, normal and pure of defects."2 Man was created for communion with God. He found his complete fulfilment in a life of communion, praise and giving glory to the Creator, living in a unison of love with God, by love drawing nearer to Him toward sharing in His immortality, in His deity.3 Man was not created for death; death was not a part of his nature, and it is by no means "natural." Man was created to live, through unity with the Creator.4 Why, then, does God warn Adam and Eve that if they turn from Him in disobedience and learn the conflict between good and evil, they will "surely die;" for this is just what He means by, "For on the day you eat of it, you shall surely die."5 This was no threat of punishment, for death is by no means a contrived punishment, rather it was a simple statement of reality.6 Immortality is a property of God alone.7 Man cannot possess it.8 He can only share in it by grace.9 We said that man was created for communion with God, and thus, he was created for life.10 Evil, which causes death, was not in his nature.11 By disobedience, man turned away from God and thus from life and the Source of Life,12 and so death became his destiny,13 for his nature became corrupted14 and he was no longer in direct communion with life. By accepting sin into his nature, man fell, not from the high state of perfection ascribed to him by Augustine,15 but from a state of harmonious existence in which he was growing and maturing toward perfection in God. The fall resulted in a change in man's nature. It now became disharmonious, full of internal conflict,16 and dissonance. Death is in itself the arch-manifestation of this disharmony and dissonance.17 Death is an automatic result of separation from God, and sin is the cause of this separation. Death and sin are interacting and co-supportive, for "death is the wages of sin," while "sin is the sting of death."18 In order for one to be conquered, the other must be overcome. Thus, the "Only Sinless One," Jesus Christ alone was able to conquer death and liberate man from its bondage, making the struggle for "perfection"19 once more possible. For, sin sets up a complete internal disharmony, and death completely shatters the natural organism, the psychophysical organism that is man. The soul does not depart the body lightly, nor into a new world of purification and experience. Rather, the soul tears itself away from the body unwillingly, with anguish over the apparent destruction of its organism by the unnatural division of its components. It is not the body which holds man in bondage, but death itself and "him who has the power of death."20 Death is the "last enemy" of both God and man.21 It is the direct result of man's separation from God, and man is separated from God by sin. Satan increases and perpetuates this separation, and thus he has the power of death in his hands. To be in the hands of death means to be out of the hands of God.22 How great this enemy is, the Saviour Himself reveals to us. He wished us to know how great a gulf He was bridging for us, and yet how completely, how absolutely He was willing to suffer for us, and so on the Cross, He cried out, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?"23 This means that the Human Christ truly tasted death He placed Himself, as a man, in the hands of death: and to be in the hands of death is to be separated from God. Thus, the human body of Christ tasted death for us. Christ, as God, entered the realm of death and truly conquered it. He returned from death, removed His human nature and body from the hands of death and restored it once more to the hands of God.24 Thus, the dominion of death and, consequently, the effective power of Satan, has been shattered. (All that is left to him is the power of deceit and delusion).25 There is now one resurrected Body, the Body of Christ that fully human body which is united fully with God. In it, the power of death is shattered once and for all. One participates in that victory over death by uniting oneself with that one resurrected Body in which the victory is complete and certain: by uniting oneself to the Body of Christ. For this reason, in the Divine Liturgy, we partake of that one Resurrected Body and unite ourselves to it. For this reason, too, the Orthodox Dogma of the Church is, for us, central and vital to our lives and salvation. The Church is the Body of Christ, as the Apostle clearly says.26 We unite ourselves to that Body of Christ, the Church, in the rebirth of Baptism, which in itself is a living manifestation of the victory over death, and within the Church, we receive the very Body and Blood of the risen and ascended Saviour, and in faith unite ourselves to Him, and participate in the liberation from the fear of death with which Satan has held mankind in bondage all his lifetime.27 Being truly liberated from that bondage, one can take up where Adam and Eve left off, in the struggle to mature in perfection: only now, it is a very great struggle indeed. Thus, salvation consists in the union of the faithful with the life of God in the Body of Christ (the Holy Church), where the evil-one is being progressively and really destroyed in the life of co-suffering love.28 This union is effected by baptism (the grace of regeneration) and fulfilled in the Holy Com- munion of the Body and Blood of Christ, and in the mutual, cooperative struggle of Orthodox Christians against the power and influence of the evil-one. This is precisely why the last words of the "Lord's Prayer" are, "deliver us from the evil-one," and not "deliver us from evil." THEACTOFDEATH The "act of death" is a great mystery, and we do not wish to go too far in trying to explain or define it, but we will make a few observations.29 Death is the unnatural dissolution of the psychophysical organism of man. It occurs by means of the corruption of the vital functions of the physical aspect of man whether a long process of corruption, as when a person dies of old age; an accelerated corruption, as when one dies of disease or illness; or an instantaneous one, as with an accident. The soul, the "psyche" aspect of man, cannot function on its own, but only by means of the body. Thus, when the body's functions break down and cease, God, in His mercy calls the soul forth and preserves it in existence. The soul is the life-force of the body, and so the body dies at the moment the soul is called forth from it. The body does not die until the soul departs from it. This is why persons whose heart beat has ceased and whose brains no longer emit even the slightest signs of life, have been found, nevertheless, to be still alive such as the famous incident in the 1970's, in the United States, when doctors, having applied the "Harvard Method for Determining Death," opened a man's skull and began to extract his brain, supposing him to be dead: he was still alive, and the doctors hurriedly tried to undo their deed. The soul does not depart from the body easily. Death is unnatural; it is common to the fallen nature of man, and not to his true nature. Thus, the soul tears itself away from the body with regret, not as from a separate object or container, but as from its own self, from a part of its own being. ENDNOTES: 1. 1Cor.15:26; St Gregory the Theologian, OrationonTheophany, Ch.12. 2. Fr John Romanides, TheAncestralSin, Athens, 1971. 3. 1Tm.6:16; 2Tm.1:10; 1Cor.17:50-54; cp St Anastasios of Sinai, "the soul is not by nature, but by Grace immortal" (Ans.89:2). 4. Wis.2:23-24; 1:13f. 5. Gn.2:7.
6. see St Gregory Palamas, Phys.Ch. 5.150, c11157 PG. Augustine of Hippo, in his blasphemous commentary on Genesis, interprets this verse and has God saying, "On the day you eat of it, I will kill you."
7. St Ambrose of Milan, TheChristianFaith, 3:19-21, e.g.
8. ibid; Jb.10:12. 9. St Ambrose of Milan, ibid; St Hilary of Poitiers, TheTrinity, 9:4, 38, e.g. 10. Wis.3:23.
11. St John Damascene, Exposition of the Orthodox Faith, 12:4-5; St Ambrose of Milan, Belief in the Resurrection; c47 and c120 of 2nd Carthage; St Gregory of Sinai, OnCommandmentsandDogmas, 4:11 (Philokalia).
12. St Hilary, ibid, 9:4-5; 38-39, etc.
13. Dt.30:15, 19-20; Wis.2:24; Rm.5:12, etc. 14. St Gregory of Sinai, ibid; 1Cor.15:24. 15. 1Cor.15:26. 16. Rm.7:10-25.
17. This is why the Orthodox Russians, at funeral services purposely ring the bells in a disharmonious peal.
18. Rm.2:23; 1Cor.15:56; Gn.3:22; St Gregory the Theologian, loc cit; St Ambrose of Milan, Belief in the Resurrection, Ch. 48; St John Chrysostom, Homily on the Statues, 5:13 and 14; Homily 79 on John's Gospel (esp. on Jn.16:33); St Cyril of Jerusalem, CatecheticalLecture Nr.3, On Baptism.
19. 2Cor.7:1. Because of the New Adam, we can take up where the old Adam left off when he fell.
20. Hb.2:14. 21. 1Cor.15:26. 22. Hb.2:14-15. The early Christians understood this principle very well. During the time of the great persecutions, when anyone identified as a Christian could be killed at random on the street, the Christians would never absent them- selves from the Divine Liturgy on account of fear of being killed. To do so, to have become again a slave to the fear of death, would have been considered a confession that one had again become a slave to the evil-one. 23. Mt.27:46; Mk.15:34.
24. Which is why the apostle says that God raised Him from the dead (Acts 2:24, 34; 3:15, 26, etc.).
25. see, for example, The Life of St Antony, by St Athanasios the Great, where this idea is repeated two or three times.
26. Col.1:18; 24. 27. Hb.2:14-17; 1Cor.10:16-17, etc. 28. Eph.6:12; 2:2; 6:13, etc. 29. On the subject of the "act of death", we are not setting forth theological statements or doctrines, but only observations. THE RELATIONSHIPOFTHESOULANDBODY "Man, with respect to his nature, is most trulysaid to be neither soul without body, nor, on theother hand, body without soul; but is composed ofthe union of body and soul into one form of thebeautiful."(St.MethodiosofOlympus).1 Man was created both body and soul. The body alone, though it was created first, is not the human being, and though the soul gave life to the body, neither is it alone the human being.2 Man be- came a living human being when body and soul were united together.3 As our holy and God-bearing father Gregory Palamas says: "When God is said to have made man according to His image, the word man means neither the soul by itself nor the body by itself, but the two together."4 From love, God created the body and in love He bestowed upon it the soul as the force of life, that it might dwell in harmony with the body and function by means of the body, bearing not only His likeness and image, but man being himself like a type and image of the life of the Holy Church. For God created not without wisdom, but that His love and salvation might be made manifest. The soul and the body, then, are not two separate entities; they are together a single psychophysical whole, mutually serving one another and mutually dependent upon one another for life and functions, as our holy father Ephraim the Syrian says: "Behold how both the soul and the body look and attest to one another: even as the body must have the soul so as to live, so must the soul have the body to see and hear."5 And St Anastasios of Sinai informs us likewise that: "Accordingly, when the soul is separated from the entire body, it no longer is able to operate, because it operates through the members of the body..."6 The soul is not the prisoner of the body,7 rather the two were created and composed together in a mutual life, each one harmoniously deriving functions and qualities of existence from the other.8 If the soul departs the body, the body dies. And the soul, when separated from the body is no longer able to function in any sensual, psycho- physical manner, as our holy and God-bearing father Justin the Martyr says: "For as in the case of a yoke of oxen, if one or other is loosed from the yoke, neither of them can effect anything, if they be unyoked from their communion...For what is man but the rational animal composed of body and soul? Is the soul by itself man? No; but [only] the soul of a man. Would the body be called man? No; but it is called the body of a man...then neither of these is by itself man, but that which is made up of the two together is called man ..."9 Thus, the soul and body mutually depend upon, fulfil and provide life and functions to one another. It is sheer carelessness and a great error to misrepresent certain passages of Apostle Paul, using them out of context to establish an idea of a direct conflict between body and soul, and a need for the soul to be liberated from the body. When, for example, the Apostle says, "O wretched man that I am, who will deliver me from the body of this death,"10 he is referring not to the physical body, but to the power of sin lodged parasitically in the "flesh."11 To understand the Orthodox Christian anthropology in this respect, one must refer to the Scripture and understand Apostle Paul's teachings, not according to the idea and conceptions of pagan Greece,12 which made a sharp distinction between body and soul, but rather to the uniform concepts of the entire Old and New Testament in which "body and soul" denote the whole living person, and not at all independent parts of him. The Manicheans held the contrary view, and St Titus of Bostra, in refuting them, observes: "When the living body is dissolved by death and we should look upon its dust or its bones, or wish to say something about the soul, we say that these things are of a man, but we do not say that they are the man."13 And St Photios the Great, refuting Origenism, concurs: "The name `man', according to the most truthful and natural expression, applies to neither the soul without [its] body, nor to the body without [its] soul, but to that composition of soul and body made into a unique form of beauty. But Origen says that the soul alone is the man, as did Plato."14 In both Old Testament Scripture and general Hebrew thought, and in New Testament Scripture and Orthodox Christian thought in general, a living person is consistently regarded as a composite entity of body and soul. Death is an unnatural shattering of this psychophysical entity. As our holy father St Titus of Bostra says: "But though the soul be immortal [by grace], yet it is not the person, and so the Apostle does not consider [death] to differ in any wise from destruction..."15 It was clearly understood in Old Testament Scripture that that which survived in death maintained a continuity of identity, and, since Christ had not yet trampled down the bonds of death and appeared in the state of the reposed ("hades"), it was conceived of as existing in a state of wordless, sightless repose. The soul evidently had some consciousness of future destiny, some active hope, and thus it was neither dead nor devoid of some sort of spiritual awareness, by grace.16 Old Testament anthropology, like that of the New Testament never conceived of a naturally immortal soul inhabiting a mortal body from which it might be liberated, but always conceived of a simple, non-dualistic anthropology of a single, psychophysical organism. An active, intellectual life or functioning of the soul alone could never be conceived in either Old or New Testament thought. For the soul to function, its restoration with the body as the "whole person" would be absolutely necessary. The sharp conflict between these two concepts: the Scriptural and the Hellenic, was clearly brought forth in the reaction to Paul's sermon to the Greeks, on the resurrection, found at Acts 17:16-34. Apart from the Stoics and a few others, few of the Greeks would have questioned a concept of the soul continuing to exist, and even being rewarded after death, but the idea of a bodily resurrection astounded them. Their astonishment was logical. In general, with some exceptions, they conceived that the soul was a prisoner of the body and escaped, or was liberated from the body by death, and that it gained its highest knowledge and awareness only then. Why, therefore, would anyone want to have the soul reunited with the body in a resurrection17 By contrast, there is a parable in the Talmud (the Hebrew commentaries on the "Old Testament") which gives a good example of the Old Testament understanding of the subject. This parable was given to explain the matter to the simple Jewish people. In it we read: "There was a ruler who had an orchard. When he saw that the choice first-fruits were ripening, he set two watchmen over the orchard gate. The one was crippled in his legs, and the other was blind. The cripple, seeing the ripe and choice first-fruits, submitted to temptation. He said to the blind man: take me on your shoulders, I will guide you, and we will go to the best tree and take of the first-fruits and eat them. This they did. When the ruler came and saw that the choice first-fruits were gone, he questioned the two watchmen. The blind one replied, `Have I eyes that I could see to take the fruit?' The cripple replied, `Have I legs that I could go and get the fruit?' The ruler, perceiving the matter, made the cripple to sit on the shoulder of the blind man, and he judged the two as one. Even so shall the Holy-One, blessed be He, do on the last day. He will cast the soul back into its body, and He will judge the two as one."18 The fathers of the Church have taught the same thing, telling us precisely that the soul cannot receive its reward without the body, as St Ambrose of Milan makes clear, saying: "And this is the course and ground of justice, that since the actions of body and soul are common to both (for what the soul has conceived, the body has carried out), each should come into judgment... for it would seem almost inconsistent that...the mind guilty of a fault shared by another should be subjected to penalty, and the flesh, the author of the evil, should enjoy rest: and that that alone should suffer which had not sinned alone, or should attain to glory not having fought alone, with the help of grace."?19 St Irenae of Lyons is like-minded when he says: "For it is just that in the very same condition in which they (the body and the soul) toiled or were afflicted, being proved in every way by suffering, they should receive the reward of their suffering ..."20 St Titus of Bostra, rebuking the Manicheans, confirms this thought in words quoted by St John the Damascene: "For the soul cannot enjoy anything, or possess, or do anything, or suffer, except it be together with the body, being the same as it was created in the beginning, and thus it enjoys that which is proper to it. This state is lost in death through the disobedience of Adam, and again through the obedience of the one Christ, through hope it receives (in the resurrection) again the state of being a person."21ENDNOTES: 1. On The Resurrection (Against Origen), 1:5. 2. see for example, St Titus of Bostra, HomilyOne,AgainsttheManicheans, para.1 (quoted by St John the Damascene: P.G. 96:489B). 3. Gn.2:7; cp. Chapter 1 of this work. 4. P.G. 150, 1361c. 5. HymnEightOnParadise (complete text in Appendix 1). 6. Answer89 (complete text in Appendix 1). 7. The teaching that the soul is a "prisoner of the body," and thus a separate entity which can exit the body, have experiences, receive visions, revelations, wander from place to place, be purged or be "examined and judged" without its body, or indeed, function in any sensual manner without its body is, essentially, pagan Hellenism. Such teachings of the relationship of the body and the soul, called dualism, because they give the soul an actual independent functioning apart from the body, were refuted in the patristic works against Origen and against the Manichean and Gnostic heresies. This doctrine of dualism is also one of the roots of a basic misunderstanding of the dogma of redemption involved in many erroneous teachings. When one penetrates to the essence of such mythologies as purgatory, toll-houses, etc, one finds a basic presupposition that God either cannot or will not forgive sins, but that He must rather obtain some form of satisfaction for them, please Himself with some form of punishment for each transgression. This self-pleasing passion may take the form of physical torment (as in the purgatory myth) or mental and physical torture (as in the toll-house myth). The Latin doctrine of "the saving merits of Christ" is such a teaching also. Here, God does not actually forgive anyone of anything, He only agrees to be satisfied by Christ's suffering, and He is bribed by the excessive merits earned by Christ through His sufferings, and appropriated to a sinner for the sinner's having fulfilled some legal obligation. These teachings of dualism are nearly always bound together with a variation of the "satisfaction theory" of redemption. 8. Some misread Eccl.7:1, "...the day of death is better than the day of one's birth." The Hebrew understanding of this verse is expressed in the Talmudic writings thus: "Why rejoice when a ship leaves harbour and sets forth on a perilous journey: rather rejoice when it safely returns." This also points out the belief in the soul's continuance after death. Taken in connection with related verses and writings, we get a picture of the Old Israel's concept of the nature of the soul and its repose. It is, of course, identical to that of the New Israel, the Orthodox Church, except that the Incarnation and Resurrection of Christ have not only given us a fuller knowledge, but have also changed many things. It is interesting that some people think that the teaching of the Hebrews on this subject should be dramatically different from that of the New Testament Church, as if there were two different Gods, giving two different revelations. The Orthodox Church, after all, is the fulfilled and continued Israel. 9. OnTheResurrection, chapter 8. 10. Rm.7:24.
11. see St Gregory Palamas, First Triad, para.2, answer 2; Methodios of Olympos, On The Resurrection, part 1; Fr John Romanides, The Ancestral Sin, Athens, 1971.
12. cp. Romanides, TheNatureandDestinyofMan (Greek Orthodox Theological Review, vol.1, series). Apostle Paul was a Jew, and his concepts and word imagery were Hebraic. The West interpreted Paul with Hellenic, especially Platonic, preconceptions. The meaning of his imagery and even of his words themselves must be related back to Hebrew significations, since Paul was "translating" as it were, Hebrew concepts into Greek, and making do with what words were available.
16.e.g., "If a man die, shall he live again? All the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my transformation comes. Thou shalt call, and I will answer Thee: Thou wilt have a desire to the work of Thine hands...If I wait, the grave is my house: I have made my bed in darkness...and where is now my hope. For I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: and though...worms destroy this body, yet, in my flesh shall I see God: Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another..." (Jb.14: 14; 17:13; 19:25-26. cp. Jn.5:28 29); "Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return to God Who gave it" (Eccl.12:7); "...the soul shall be bound in the bundle of life with the Lord your God" (1Ki.25:29). "God made man to be immortal, and made him to be an image of His own eternity" (Wis.2:23-24); etc. See also Chapter 3 of this work.
17. This was one of Origen's quandaries once he had adopted the radical dualism of Hellenism and its disdain for the body. He tried to solve it with his theory of "material substratum" (see Chapter 4 of this work). This is also the quandary of the doctrines that souls can be examined and judged at death by demons, aerial toll-houses and the like. Indeed, St Titus of Bostra poses this very question in refuting the radical dualism of the Manicheans (Homily One), and Sts Irenae of Lyons and Ambrose of Milan both refute the idea that the soul can be "judged" or physically suffer without the body, in their works against heresies (cited in Appendix A).
18. Sanh.91a, b.
19. OnBeliefinTheResurrection, para.88.
20. Book Five, para.32.
21. Homily One, AgainstTheManicheans, para.1.
Rev. Prof. Stylianos Muksuris' presentation
Draft of Emer. Prof. Petros Vassiliadis' introduction
Prof. Gjoko Gjorgjevski's intervention
All we witnessed a rapid change of events and a drastic development regarding the status of our church, based on two most important pronouncements: 1) the decision of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Constantinople to answer to the appeal of our church (on May 9, 2022 the Holy Synod decided to recognize the Church known as “Macedonian Orthodox Church– Archbishopric of Ohrid” (MOC-OA) as “Archbishopric of Orhid”, its ecclesiastic hierarchy, as headed by the actual Head of the Church and upheld as canonical and valid in the entire Orthodox world, and 2) the reconciliation and the decision of the Serbian Orthodox Church to grant autocephaly. In a short time of approximately one month, a half-century problem was solved: the misunderstanding with the Serbian Orthodox Church, with the acceptance by the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Constantinople and the restoration of communion with other local Orthodox churches.
However, it is also true that all this did not happen all at once. Years ago, the establishment and improvement of relations with other Orthodox churches, above all with those from the immediate neighbourhood, was noticed. For example, about ten of our students studied in Thessaloniki, two of them are already employed at our Faculty. I would also especially highlight the conections with Bulgarian Theological Faculties. At the moment, more than a third of our professors and assistants completed their studies at one of the orthodox universities of Thessaloniki, Sofia, Bucharest, Moscow and Saint Petersburg.
Regarding the different ways of acceptance by other Orthodox churches, I feel deeply blessed and grateful, regardless of their current position. With those who know each other, we should know each other better and give the opportunity for those who don't know us to get to know us. Our big challenge now is the Serbian Orthodox Church. The reconciliation came with relief and great joy, considering that previously the ties between our two peoples were excellent, the only obstacle being the church issue. So, this whole process is peaking very naturally, but it's still at the very beginning.
This means that the decisions of other Orthodox churches and the expectation of the Tomos from Constantinople should only be an encouragement for a greater achievement and activity in the new for us ecclesiastical conditions. However, no matter how long the procedure will last, the most important has been done. From the ecclesiological and liturgical aspect, our church is no longer in isolation and is part of the family of Orthodox Churches. It has obtained restoration of eucharistic communion. The final step with the granting of a Tomos by the Ecumenical Patriarchate is truly expected, which, I hope, would make our church by all recognized and accepted autocephalous church in the 21st century.
Emer. Prpf. Andrii Krawchuk's presentation
DRAFT: The End of Orthodox Social Ethics in Russia and Lessons for Ukraine ABSTRACT: Russian Orthodoxy formulated foundational principles of social ethics in The Basis of the Social Concept of the Russian Orthodox Church (2000) and in The Russian Orthodox Church’s Basic Teaching on Human Dignity, Freedom and Rights (2008). In light of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on 24 February 2022, we return to those foundational statements, reviewing elements that are especially relevant to the present war, outlining emerging questions that reveal the crisis of Russian Orthodoxy, and drawing lessons for a new Orthodox ethos, which is being developed inside the Orthodox Church of Ukraine. OUTLINE: Preliminary notes Prospects of dialogue when one side threatens the other’s existence Social ethics in ROC – problem of words vs. deeds Loss of the original telos, or end, of ROC social ethics Introduction Focus: just war and the church’s “social” role in public space Contrast of ROC declarations (2000, 2008) and action after 24 Feb 2022 Emerging questions point to a crisis of ROC, lessons for OCU 1. Russian Orthodox social ethics: declarations and deviations Human dignity The church’s discernment: autonomous from the political sphere The church’s duty to intercede with civil authorities for justice The duty of civil disobedience 2. When is a war just – or unjust? Norms and transgressions Unjust aggression Justice and the security of neighbors under threat Sources misread and distorted Ethical engagement in war 3. The state of Russian Orthodoxy and an alternative path for Orthodoxy in Ukraine Where is Russian Orthodoxy? 7 Proposals for an alternative Orthodox ethos in Ukraine Andrii Krawchuk (firstname.lastname@example.org) Last year I delivered my talk in the CEMES Public Lectures on 22 February, 2022, two days before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. At the request of the organizers I focused not on the Orthodox Churches in Ukraine, which I have studied for almost a decade, but on the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (UGCC) of my background. In thinking about the churches in Ukraine, I was intrigued by what appears to be a natural affinity between the UGCC and the Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU), striking similarities in the historical and contemporary experiences of the two churches. Those convergences offer unique opportunities for a strong and enduring fraternity, if not something more. Among other things, I considered the Russian Church in Ukraine (Moscow Patriarchate), which uses an unnecessarily confusing official name. Two days before Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine I still felt that dialogue with that church was important. After the full-scale war was launched, I hastily re-phrased my remarks and said that for now, dialogue with the Church of Russia was not possible. In retrospect, it may have been better to reformulate that in two points. One, that in the foreseeable future the OCU would likely leave dialogue with Moscow to the higher authority of the Ecumenical Patriarch; and two, that the OCU would leave the door open (as indeed it has) to dialogue with the Russian church in Ukraine, if that church clarified its political and ecclesiastical allegiances. In May, 2022, the Russian church in Ukraine took a half-step toward clarifying its position and abruptly stopped. Though it claimed to have severed relations with Moscow, there was no documentary evidence to that effect. The church’s only possible claim to canonicity rests on its uninterrupted membership under the Muscovite aegis. This only added to the confusion about where and with whom it stands. When I first proposed an examination of social ethics in the ROC, I was merely echoing a theme that Prof. Vassiliadis had proposed for this year. It was natural for me to gravitate toward social ethics, since this I have been interested in this branch of theology for a long time. I also felt that a focus on the ROC would be an opportunity to think about two key documents from the beginning of our century which treat that subject, even if that would mean uncovering glaring contradictions between lofty declarations made two decades ago and the grim reality today. The horrifying events of the past year, ongoing destruction, and genocidal aggression continue to traumatize the people of Ukraine and their supporters throughout the world. It will take a long time to move beyond the shock and to absorb the scale of this abomination of desolation. Historian Timothy Snyder initially called this conflict as a colonial war that is the culmination of centuries of oppression and objectification. But based on growing evidence of atrocities and the rhetoric of aggression he renamed it a genocidal war. In the religious sphere, after Kirill’s scandalous blessing of the war there were calls even among his own to have him hauled in before a tribunal of patriarchs on a charge of heresy. But the real issue goes far beyond the concerns about phyletism, or about a slight difference of opinion on doctrine. The evil of this regime and its mad tyrant has yet to be given a definitive name, but for many it ranks with the arch-villains of World War II, Hitler and Stalin. As for Kirill, by collaborating with the terrorist regime and blessing the war of aggression that kills his own faithful on both sides of the battlefield, he arguably surpassed his predecessor Metropolitan Sergius’ “adaptation” with Stalin in 1927. The moral horror and revulsion that this war occasioned affected me profoundly. As the war continued, and any talk of peace was predicated on Ukraine’s capitulation, I shared widespread Ukrainian scepticism of any possibility of dialogue with Russia or its foot-servants. This setting aside of interactive encounter is not a deliberate rejection of dialogue, but a recognition that it cannot happen as long as one side contests the legitimacy and threatens the existence of the other with military aggression. The full impact of that aggression on human life, the social fabric, institutions, and infrastructure redirects all resources and energy toward healing, rebuilding, and defending against further devastation. Like Russia’s thermobaric vacuum bombs that sucked up all surrounding oxygen in their area, the war sucked the air out of any possible dialogue. This religious reality reflected the military reality, where appeasement would be capitulation to an emboldened aggressor. For the foreseeable future the only credible prospects for dialogue with Russia are outside Ukraine. Patriarch Bartholomew has the wisdom, authority, clout, and patience to do it. Elsewhere, in the comfort of detached, diplomatic impartiality, Vatican ecumenists and pro-Russian Putinverstehers have their own reasons to wish for a “return to normal” before long. For my part, until there is peace, a just peace, my interest in the aggressor state and its spiritual enabler has sunk to an all-time low. Ukrainians are wounded, bleeding, dying. Their needs are the top priority and the moral obligation – not appeasing the aggressor. Yet, despite those deep misgivings – at one point I thought it best to select another topic– I began slowly to read and to think about the social ethics of the church that is blessing the destruction of the land of my ancestors. After all, this too is work toward a recovery of truth. I began to write, drawn in by the idea of looking at social ethics through abysmal, destructive errors and then moving toward constructive lessons for a social ethic of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU). In the original title (“Russian Orthodox Social Ethics in Peace and in War”), I was already focused on the discrepancy between lofty declarations issued in 2000 and their revocation in 2022. The revised title, with “the end” is more dramatic, but still retains a provocative ambiguity and avoids a more judgmental “the failure,” which was discarded. Introduction The social ethics of a religious community may be broadly understood as the values that it articulates in words and implements in action through the course of its historical interaction with its wider social and political contexts. Since the 19th century, Christian communities have looked to their original sources and traditions, and to their own more recent insights and experiences, in crystallizing, systematizing, and giving coherent expression to the ways that they have responded to ethical questions in the public sphere. A distinct “genre” of social thought emerged from diverse starting points in different churches. In Roman Catholicism, Leo XIII’s encyclical Rerum Novarum (1891) is often considered to mark such a beginning, while local churches like the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church can point to Metropolitan Sheptytsky’s pastoral letter On the Social Question (1904). Russian Orthodoxy formulated foundational principles of social ethics in The Basis of the Social Concept of the Russian Orthodox Church (2000: BSC) and in The Russian Orthodox Church’s Basic Teaching on Human Dignity, Freedom and Rights (2008: DFR). In light of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on 24 February 2022 and Patriarch Kirill’s blessing, it is interesting to note that these early documents anticipated urgent questions that have come to the fore, concerning the just war and the church’s role in the public space. From these foundational statements, we will discuss those elements that are especially relevant to the present war, outline the emerging questions that reveal the crisis of Russian Orthodoxy, and draw lessons for a new Orthodox ethos, such as the one already being developed inside the OCU. 1. Russian Orthodox social ethics: declarations and deviations Human dignity “Every individual is endowed by God with dignity and freedom. The use of this freedom for evil purposes however will inevitably lead to the erosion of one’s own dignity and the degradation of the dignity of others” (DFR, III.1). The Russian church recognized human dignity in two dimensions: ontological – the sacred worth of every person (as divine image), and ethical – the dynamic sphere of responsible effort and action to seek the good and overcome evil (becoming the likeness). In the further elaboration of dignity, however, there is ambivalence on whether the inherent, God-given dignity of every person remains intact under all circumstances, or whether it is vulnerable to moral corruption. On the one hand, the universal quality of dignity is emphatically confirmed as stable, regardless of human moral action: “A morally undignified life does not ruin the God-given dignity ontologically but darkens it so much as to make it hardly discernible. This is why it takes so much effort of will to discern and even admit the natural dignity of a villain or a tyrant” (DFR, I.4). On the other hand, this same ontological dimension of dignity can be cultivated through moral living or destroyed by immorality: “… a human being preserves his God-given dignity and grows in it only if he lives in accordance with moral norms” (DFR, I.5); and The image of God can be either darkened or illumined depending on the self-determination of a free individual, while the natural dignity becomes either more apparent in his life or obliterated by sin. The result is directly dependent on the self-determination of an individual (DFR, II.1). After 24 February 2022, when the “natural dignity” of Russia’s villainous tyrant was eivdent to even fewer people than before, the Russian church had an opportunity to explain its notion of “ontological darkening” and whether it too had detected the presence of a tyrant. Tyranny or not, according to its own teaching the church was under no obligation to obey dictates that are harmful from a religious standpoint (BSC, III.5). The church that had recognized the protection of dignity as a “good goal” (DFR, III.5), was silent on the repeated violation of human dignity in the atrocities at Bucha, Irpin’, Izium, Mariupol, and elsewhere. The church’s discernment: autonomous from the political sphere The Russian church reserved the right to set its own course independently of political considerations. For one thing, it placed limits on ritual blessings in the public space, denying benediction for the political activity of lay individuals and “church organizations involved in election campaigns and political agitation.” (BSC, V.4). Similarly, when the decisions of political leaders contradict the church’s values, the church confirms the difference “and states it publicly in order to avoid confusion and misunderstanding among the faithful and society at large.” (BSC, V.4). In its pursuit of and commitment to truth, the church is bound by its responsibility to speak the truth: “Nor has [the church] the power to fall silent and to stop preaching the truth whatever other teachings may be prescribed or propagated by state bodies. In this respect, the Church is absolutely free from the state” (BSC, III.5, emphasis added). By drawing a sharp line between political expectations and its own autonomous reasoning, the Russian church accepted the responsibility of critical discernment and of accurate public communication in order to clarify where it stood. So in February 2022, if the church had differed with the state over the war, by its own rationale it was obliged to speak out publicly against the war. By failing to do that and instead blessing the war, Kirill aligned his moral deliberation and critical discernment with Putin’s regime. And since the church is not a robot, a zombie, or a rubber stamp, there could be no confusion about Kirill’s conscious and deliberate investment in the war. The church’s duty to intercede with civil authorities for justice The Russian church acknowledged its duty to intercede with the government on behalf of the rights and concerns of citizens and social groups (BSC III.8). In the past the church had intervened on behalf of people unjustly convicted, humiliated, exploited, or condemned to death (DFR IV.2, V.2). In the presence of injustice, the church could not be true to its mission in the world as a passive bystander, but only as an advocate for justice. By fulfilling the duty to intercede the church affirms its moral mandate in the public sphere. It fulfills its public responsibility and, by the same token, demonstrates moral accountability. Fully cognizant that these were not empty words or declarative posturing, the church confirmed that the moral responsibility was hard and fast, here and now: “Today just as before, we are called to show concern, not only in word but also in deed, for the protection of human rights and dignity” (DFR V.2). In 2022, this principle raised questions about the Russian church’s moral accountability: where was its intercession on behalf of civilian victims, women and children subjected to Russian atrocities and violence in Ukraine? Where was its intercession on behalf of Russian troops, treated as cannon fodder and executed for refusing to fight? In addition to injustices proceeding from courts and laws, the Russian church recognized that human rights and dignity were often violated by states and by “pseudo-religious groups, terrorist and other criminal communities,” and therefore had to be protected (DFR, V. 2). When such violations occurred, the church also had a duty to intervene. In a long list of 15 areas in the church’s human rights advocacy, it is astonishing to find “protecting the rights of nations and ethnic groups to their own religion, language and culture” (DFR, V. 2, emphasis added). In 2022, where was the Russian church to protect the rights of Ukrainians to their own religion, language, and culture as each of these was threatened and violated by the Russian state, by its pseudo-religious groups (Russian Orthodox army), and by its terrorist and criminal (Wagner group) organizations? The duty of civil disobedience The church’s moral determinations in the public sphere are not limited to issues in the social order, but extend to the political sphere as well. Following from the church’s claim of absolute independence from the state in matters of morality, its social ethic allowed the possibility of disobeying state laws. That point was not hypothetical, and specific examples were readily available. The church could never obey an order to renounce the faith, or to commit “sinful and spiritually harmful actions” (BSC III.5). Presumably other actions or decisions of the state, especially those that triggered the church’s duty to intercede in the name of justice, would also fall under the church’s non-compliance. In 2022, how did Kirill conclude that Russia’s war of aggression is not a sinful and spiritually harmful action, and that it deserved the church’s blessing? Recognizing that there is more to civil disobedience than non-compliance, the Russian church listed a number of options that are open to it when its values and state policies clashed: direct dialogue with the civil authority, mobilizing support for democratic review and reform, appeals to international bodies and public opinion, and mobilizing faithful for peaceful civil disobedience (BSC III.5). When in 2022 did the Russian church exercise those options with reference to Russia’s war of aggression?? The Russian church extended its consideration of civil disobedience to the case of armed conflict. There were two types of conflict in which the church “cannot support the state or cooperate with it”: waging civil war or aggressive external war. (BSC III.8) Why in 2022 did the Russian church disregard its own restriction on collaborating with the state in its aggressive external war? 2. When is a war just – or unjust? Norms and transgressions Unjust aggression In inter-ethnic conflicts, the Russian church declares that it will not take sides, except “when one of the sides commits an evident aggression or injustice” (BSC, II.4). The church recognizes its responsibility to analyze conflicts thoroughly enough to know when an evident aggression or injustice has taken place. BSC does not say explicitly what happens once unjust aggression is confirmed, but we may presume that the Russian church did not intend knowingly to take the side of an unjust aggressor. Instead, it would denounce the injustice.In 2022, as Kirill blessed Russia’s war of aggression, which evident aggression or injustice was it that outweighed in his mind the “evident aggression and injustice” by Putin’s Russia? And by what reasoning did he side with the unjust aggressor? Justice and the security of neighbors under threat BSC considers the justification of war according to biblical and traditional sources. War may be evil, but it becomes a necessary evil, a just war, when the security of neighbours and the restoration of trampled justice are at stake. (BSC, VIII.2) In 2022, “security and justice” became trumped-up pretexts for Putin’s war of aggression. Russia supposedly had no alternative but to protect itself because Ukraine was allegedly on the verge of attacking it, and Russian speakers in as-yet unoccupied territories were told that they were treated unfairly. For added spiritual security and protection from the wrath of the Almighty, a curious strategy was devised – in case the “necessary evil” should turn out to be an unjust war. Surely even God would not see the war for what it was as long as Putin and Kirill called it by another name (a “special operation”) and if the will of the people could be crafted by threatening citizens of Russia with seven years in prison for using the word “war.” Sources misread and distorted BSC quotes Mt 26.52, “They that take the sword shall perish with the sword” and concludes that it “justifies the idea of just war.” (BSC VIII.3) It most emphatically does not, as the preceding words in the same verse make abundantly clear: ““Put your sword in its place,for all who take the sword willperish by the sword.” (NKJV) The classic argument for the just war centers on the notion of defense against unjust aggression: “If a thief is found breaking in, and he is struck so that he dies, there shall be no guilt for his bloodshed“ (Ex 22.2, NKJV). Regardless of the amount of misreading and distortion, the Bible contains no justification for the unjust aggressor. Also in support of the just war, BSC cites the legend of a Christian-Muslim encounter. In conversation with the ninth-century missionary and “Apostle to the Slavs” St. Cyril, the Saracens asked “Your God is Christ. He commanded you to pray for enemies, to do good to those who hate and persecute you and to offer the other cheek to those who hit you, but what do you actually do? If anyone offends you, you sharpen your sword and go into battle and kill. Why do you not obey your Christ?” Cyril responded, Christ is our God Who ordered us to pray for our offenders and to do good to them. He also said that no one of us can show greater love in life than he who gives his life for his friends (Jn. 15:3). That is why we generously endure offences caused us as private people. But in company we defend one another and give our lives in battle for our neighbours, so that you, having taken our fellows prisoners, could not imprison their souls together with their bodies by forcing them into renouncing their faith and into godless deeds. Our Christ-loving soldiers protect our Holy Church with arms in their hands. They safeguard the sovereign in whose sacred person they respect the image of the rule of the Heavenly King. They safeguard their land because with its fall the home authority will inevitably fall too and the evangelical faith will be shaken. These are precious pledges for which soldiers should fight to the last. And if they give their lives in battlefield, the Church will include them in the community of the holy martyrs and call them intercessors before God. (BSC, VIII.2).
Although the story of Cyril and the Saracens was revised and embellished over centuries, this address seems to have captivated the leader of the Russian church. The argument that Christ-loving soldiers should fight to the last to protect their land, church and faith, sovereign and home authority may present a coherent, rally-round-the-flag answer to a ninth-century question, but it is not a license to kill whenever someone arbitrarily conjures up an imagined threat. The just war is not about pretexts, word play, or constructed threats to “all that is sacred.” It is the last resort — of self-defence — against unjust aggression — inside one’s own home. With these criteria in mind, it is Ukraine that can claim this passage as its guideline. Since the original land-grabs in 2014, Russia has been the aggressor and the Russian church is playing word games. In doing so it breaks with its own social teaching and steps outside the limits of anything that is identifiably Christian. Further, the Russian church leadership was perfectly aware of the danger of waging war for all the wrong, “sinful” reasons, and enumerated them: aggressive nationalism, xenophobia, national exclusiveness and inter-ethnic enmity (BSC, II.4). The same point was reaffirmed emphatically: “It is contrary to Orthodox ethics to divide nations into the best and the worst and to belittle any ethnic or civic nation. Even more contrary to Orthodoxy are the teachings which put the nation in the place of God or reduce faith to one of the aspects of national self-awareness.” This too proved to be no obstacle for the church in its support for the 2022 campaign to de-Nazify Ukraine. Ethical engagement in war The determination of whether a war is or is not just also hinges on norms of conduct that are applied in war. Restrictions on permissible military violence had been in place since medieval Christianity, and the Russian church was aware of them: love of one’s neighbours, nation and Fatherland; understanding the needs of other nations; and the rejection of immoral means in serving one’s country. (BSC VIII.3) In 2022, the ROC either renounced its commitment to the love of neighbors or it reserved that love only to Russians. In either case, there was willful ignorance of Jesus’ parable in response to the question “who is my neighbor?” and its deliberate subversion: the Biblical everyman in need is replaced by a clannish, ethnic tribesman. Long before any talk of Russkii mir (Russian world), this is likely where the deep roots of phyletism (the church at the service of nationalism) may be found. As for understanding, much less considering, the needs of other nations, in light of 2022 there is only one possible explanation: the ROC discarded that principle as irrelevant. The just war theory of Western Christianity developed a number of conditions under which a war could be conducted in a morally permissible way. As noted in BSC, these included a principle of proportionality (foreseeable military losses and destruction should not exceed the purposes of the war), and the protection of civilians from direct hostilities (BSC VIII.3). In 2022, Kirill aligned his position on the purpose of the war with Putin’s: the war was necessary to protect Russia from an imagined threat in Ukraine: fascism, democracy, the West, NATO. But as the toll of casualties and destruction mounted, where was Kirill to ask Putin about the limits of proportional killing and devastation. Where was Kirill, as co-author of BSC, to point out that from his church’s perspective no war could be just if the number of losses was completely ignored, and victims of Russian aggression were dehumanized and abused, and Russian soldiers were no more than cannon fodder? Where was he when by his own directives it was time to say “enough”? BSC considers the difficulty of distinguishing between a defensive (just) war and a war of aggression, particularly when a state or states initiate hostilities and claim a duty to protect victims of aggression (BSC, VIII.3). In 2022, the idea of a duty to protect became a convenient instrument for justifying Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Official Russian state and patriarchal justifications of the war included the trope of an imagined persecution of Russians living in Ukraine, especially the Donbas region. Allegedly they were prevented from speaking and praying in Russian. According to Putin and Kirill, this triggered a Russian obligation to protect victims, and it overrode international norms, Ukraine’s sovereignty, and territorial integrity. It became the basis for Russia’s assumed right to launch a war of aggression, and for the Russian church’s decision to march in lock-step with the Kremlin. But BSC was no carte blanche for misguided invasions. Two decades before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, a more prudent Russian church had advocated caution before the state contemplated any unprovoked attack on another country, and before the church could bless such violations: “… the question whether the Church should support or condemn armed conflict must be examined separately each time they occur or when there is a risk that they might occur” (BSC, VIII.3). The authors of BSC knew perfectly well that no two wars are identical in their aims or rationales. It followed that there could be no a priori justification of a war, and the church had to confirm a real need for war in each specific case before giving its blessing. In the aftermath of Russia’s 2022 invasion, which Kirill blessed, it is his responsibility to explain his reasons for deciding that this war against Ukraine was necessary. If he were to argue, along with the war criminals at Nuremberg, that he was only obeying his master’s voice, we would have confirmation that the problem is not heresy but apostasy. Instead of sound theological reasoning and a prophetic condemnation of evil in his own backyard, we have convolutions that merely echo the master’s voice, which alleged that fascist ideas and unnamed western actors were operating in Ukraine and repressing Russian-speaking citizens. The methods of warfare and the moral state of the warring parties also help to distinguish a justifiable war from a crime. In a strange attribution to scripture that makes no reference to righteous indignation (1Jn. 2:16), BSC concludes that war should be waged with righteous indignation, not malice, greed, or lust. Other requirements include the humane treatment of the wounded, war prisoners (Rom. 12:21-22), and civilians, especially children, women and elderly. (BSC, VIII.3). The obligation to one’s own humanity and the enemy’s had also been formulated in the Middle Ages: “a fighting man should not lose his morality, forgetting that his enemy is a human being too” (BSC, VIII.3). The abdication of responsibility for humane treatment of the wounded and prisoners by the Russian forces since February 2022 also implicates the Russian church, which did not raise a voice of righteous indignation in the face of Russian war crimes and inhumanity. The church freely stated those criteria of a just war and chose to ignore them when the injustice was on the Russian side. The church affirmed, freely and without coercion, that the humane treatment of civilians and war prisoners is a Christian attitude. But when prisoners were tortured and treated inhumanely, when civilians were raped and slaughtered with their hands tied behind their backs, and when children were kidnapped and taken to Russia – this, to the church of Russia was not inhumanity. As Russian soldiers tortured, mutilated, and killed Ukrainians with impunity and genocidal intent, the ROC silently consented to that aggression and dehumanization – and to the dehumanization of Russia’s military forces. Kirill did not protest or condemn, and by blessing the war he explicitly sanctioned the dehumanization of Ukrainians and Russians alike. In BSC the Russian Church claims to have “a special concern for the military, educating them in fidelity to lofty moral ideals” (VIII.4). Who were the Russian Orthodox moral educators of the torturers and murderers in Bucha, Irpin’, Izium, and Mariupol, and what was the content of their teaching? Who were the Russian Orthodox moral teachers of the so-called Wagner group? Why did Kirill condone their actions with his silence? Finally, the conduct of war involved a commitment to protect the truth on the home front, and prevent it from degenerating into a pattern of propagating violence and hatred. The authors of BSC anticipated that this concern would be especially important in wartime: “The Church opposes the propaganda of war and violence, as well as various manifestations of hatred capable of provoking fratricidal clashes” (BSC VIII.5). The same concern reappeared in a discussion of mass media: “The propaganda of violence, enmity and hatred and ethnic, social and religious discord and the sinful exploitation of human instincts, including for commercial purposes, are inadmissible” (XV.1). On which day in 2022 did Kirill write to any of Putin’s television propagandists – Margarita (“we’re liberating Ukraine”) Simonyan, Dmitry (“there is no Ukraine”) Kiselyov, Olga (“we were driven to this”) Skabeyeva, or Vladimir (“if you draw your pistol, shoot”) Solovyov – to ask them to stop their propaganda of hatred, violence, and war? 3. The state of Russian Orthodoxy and an alternative path for Orthodoxy in Ukraine In this critical review of the ROC’s understanding of its social responsibility in the public forum and its ethical positions on war, we have compared official statements from 2000 and 2008 with the church’s blessing and justification of Putin’s war of aggression against Ukraine (2022–). On a matter of utmost moral significance, significant discrepancies are evident between the church’s declared ideals, and its decisions and actions in the first year of the war. The depth and extent of the ethical, spiritual, and ontological crisis that this represents for the Russian church place it arguably beyond the reach of mere accusations or condemnations. Instead of mudslinging, an accurate assessment of the objective reality can inform the socio-political diagnosis from which a constructive, alternative ecclesiology can emerge. Our concluding remarks address two questions: where does the foregoing discussion leave Russian Orthodoxy? And, what lessons can be drawn from it to formulate a constructive path for an alternative Orthodox ethos in Ukraine? As with the failed pariah state that chose isolation over international relations, the Russian church that aligned with it was on a path of self-isolation for a long time before 24 February 2022. Crete (2016) and Amman (2020) were only two episodes in a seditious, suicidal pattern of behavior. The conscious abdication in practice of its own declared social ethic is no small incident in the sad narrative of Russian Orthodoxy. The church’s renunciation of responsibilities in the public sphere – the duty to protect human dignity, to intercede with civil authorities, to practice civil disobedience in the name of justice, to recognize and condemn an unjust war, to protect civilians and provide humane treatment for war prisoners – and its blessing of Putin’s war of aggression shocked not only external observers but its own members too. Some called for remedial, canonical measures. But the scale of the problem may well exceed the capacity of any known disciplinary, punitive, restorative, or pastoral remedies. It certainly is greater than any one individual’s inadvertent doctrinal error or heresy, and potentially greater than an entire institution’s estrangement or loss of communion. Fraternal correction would probably be futile, as would excommunication or an anathema. Nor in this ecclesiological crisis can there be much point to a formal accusation from outside. By its actions and omissions the church accuses itself, and only it can decide to move through the steps of the necessary catharsis. The intended purpose, or telos, of Russian social ethics had real potential in theory, but like Stalin’s constitutions that were hailed for their stylistic beauty and legal wisdom, it was either ignored or subverted in practice. The outcome in 2022 was a disaster for the whole church and we can only follow from the sidelines to see how much deeper this entity will continue to fall.
The description of a dismal ecclesial situation can have a positive side if it points toward a new way of being Orthodox in Ukraine. It imposes nothing, but suggests lessons that can be learned and which can strengthen principles that the Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU) is already implementing. Learning from mistakes and developing best practices can pave the way to a new mode of Orthodox well-being in Ukraine. In fact, that would not be a new direction, but the further elaboration of the new theological and ecclesial consciousness that was born at the Maidan (2013-14): a social ethics of liberation, in which the clerical, institutional church joins its people, the social organism, in calling the government to account and in naming the values which should and will be defended in the public sphere – truth, justice, equality, social responsibility, accountable governance, democratization – and dignity. At risk of repeating some items from a previous reflection, the following seven proposals may provide food for thought. In an alternative mode of Orthodox being in Ukraine: 1. The church would not become a department of the state and would not aspire to become a state church. Even after it achieves the status of the undisputed majority religious community in Ukraine, it would support religious equality and not preferential treatment. 2. The church would distance itself from odious figures of oligarchy and corruption – “Pasha Mercedes,” “deacon” Novinskii and the like. 3. The church would read the Bible accurately and analytically, and avoid falling victim to manipulation in the service of political agendas. 4. The church would work systematically to root out and reject Russophobia. To embrace hatred would be to imitate the fallen church and to fail in the same way. The church would teach and deconstruct delusions related to this: that the church can be the servant of nationalists; that ethno-phobic hatred can be proof of patriotism; and that a Ukrainian-speaking mirror image of the ROC can be a legitimate ecclesiological alternative to the ROC. 5. The church would resist hegemonic agendas that impose one culture as superior to another. Having an official language does not mean that other cultures are “less equal.” 6. The church would recognize its role and responsibility to participate in the public forum of civil society, recognize that it has duties in support of social justice for all, and that it fulfills those duties with responsibility and accountability. 7. Sobornist’ (Ukrainian) – In addition to its public accountability, and beyond matters of sacramental and pastoral ministry, church leadership is accountable to its members, clergy and laity, who participate in democratic governance and decision-making. Such decision-making was plainly visible in numerous recorded acts of transfer from the Russian church to the OCU in 2022. With inclusive governance, transparency, and accountability, the hierarchical structure would never deceive or betray its people with secret allegiances or hidden agendas. Such governance can ensure that when a crisis looms it will be detected, reported, and resolved at all levels well in advance. Such governance and crisis management can prevent the kind of catastrophe and desperate solutions (too-little, too-late) that are signs of a church in free fall.
THE 2021-22 OPEN PUBLIC LECTURES OF CEMES
INTRODUCTION by the Director of MOET, Emer. Prof. Petros Vassiliadis The Center for Ecumenical, Missiological and Environmental Studies "Metropolitan Panteleimon Papageorgiou" (CEMES) has started a series of Open Public Lectures of its Master Program in "Orthodox Ecumenical Theology" (MOET) on November 30, 2021, with Rev. Prof. Hyacinthe Destivelle, Director of the Institute of Ecumenical Studies of Angelicum, who spoke on: "From Schism to Imperfect Communion. Evolution of the View of the Catholic Church on Division". Your Eminences, Reverend fathers, sisters and brothers of the Church of Christ from both Eastern and Western Christianity. Today is a historic date: the very day of the thronal Feast of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the 30th anniversary of H.A.H. Patriarch Bartholomew’s elevation to the throne of New Rome. But also, the year of H.H. Pope Francis’ courageous initiative to start an authentic conciliar process that will pave the way to an authentic synodality of the entire Church of Christ. And of course, H.H.'s visit to Cyprus and Greece. The English program of the Open Publish Lectures of MOET, jointly organized by members of CEMES (and the Scientific Committee and Teaching Staff of MOET), as well as by the Ecumenical Institute of the Pontifical University of St. Thomas (Angelicum), is inaugurated this evening. The series will include also lectures by scholars of the Ecumenical Monastery of Bose, and the Oriental Orthodox and Greek Catholic Churches, always scheduled at 18:00 pm Greek time (17:00 Italian time), and lasting 1:30 hours. Both CEMES and Angelicum decided to devote this academic year’s Open Public Lectures to the “Eastern/Oriental Orthodox-Latin/Greek Catholic relations”, which will hopefully lead to the visible unity of the Church of Christ. Parallel to these English lectures, this academic year CEMES will also has planned a series of Open Public Lectures in Greek for the Greek-speaking public around the globe on the same general theme and at the same time, starting next Tuesday. In both the English and the Greek series of lectures, in addition to the speaker and the coordinator, other scholars will join them for an in-depth discussion in an as much as possible balanced selection. To honour today's main speaker let me remind you what the famous papal encyclical UT UNUM SINT said: "To believe in Christ means to desire unity; to desire unity means to desire the Church; to desire the Church means to desire the communion of grace which corresponds to the Father’s plan from all eternity. Such is the meaning of Christ’s prayer: “Ut unum sint” (ΙΝΑ ΠΑΝΤΕΣ ΕΝ ΩΣΙΝ)." Despite the successful outcome of many official theological dialogues, no significant steps have yet been taken towards full Eucharistic unity, due to certain preoccupations and prejudices, which this series of lectures intends to analyze in order to overcome, as far as possible, any canonical, historical, ecclesiological, theological etc obstacle standing to this very day against the command of our Lord "that we may all be one"
SUMMARY OF REV. PROF. HYACINTHE DESTIVELLE's presentation and the discussion that followed: Prof. Hyacinthe Destivelle in his insightful presentation underlined that "Yves Congar in 1937 understood the origins of the separation of 1054 as the result of anthropological factors. Two years later, he offered a speculative synthesis on the question, as he studied the connection between “nationalism” and schism. Finally, in 1954 he presented schism as an “estrangement”. This word means: a) that separation was realized as a gradual evolution that began before the 11th century, which continued even after 1054; b) that the separation was not a unilateral initiative, but a common process, a “state of mutual ignorance”; c) that this estrangement concerned politics, culture, ecclesiology.Vatican II abandoned the category of schism and spoke of “separation”. Unitatis Redintegratio 3 enumerated Church elements beyond the Catholic Church, putting baptism in the first place. In addition, UR mentioned other existing elements outside the canonical boundaries of Catholicism, namely 'the written word of God; the life of grace; faith, hope and charity, with the other interior gifts of the Holy Spirit'. While the ancient Church was convinced that the baptism outside the 'Catholic' Church had no salvific efficacy, for Vatican II every validly baptized Christian is in communion with the Church of Christ. The Council used the words “incorporation”, “bond”, “ordination” and “communion”.. Lumen Gentium took up the trilogy of unity in faith, sacraments, and ministry, i.e., unity in doctrine, sacraments and canonical order. As to 'communion', it refers to common participation in the same good, in a third reality. This 'communion' among Christians is imperfect, because 'each of these three dimensions lacks certain elements', which vary from one community to another. This explains the Council’s use of the expression ‘Churches and Ecclesial communities’ to designate other Christians: as there are degrees of communion, there are many degrees of ecclesiality'. One can thereby distinguishes two dimensions of communion: ontological/spiritual dimension (at the level of the mystery of the Church), and institutional-canonical dimension (at the level of the visible Church); to these, it is necessary to add sacramental-Eucharistic communion, which is the expression of the 'perfect communion'. Thus, when the Catholic Church speaks of 'imperfect communion', it means an ontological and spiritual communion in faith, sacraments, and ministries which is real, but incomplete, as it is not yet manifested in the canonical and the Eucharistic communion". Emer. Prof. Rev. George M. Kondothra During the discussion that followed, Emer. Prof. Rev. George M. Kondothra remarked: “The word “evolution” used by Fr Hyacinthe Destivelle is significant. We need to recognise that theological interpretation is an evolving process. What we call “timeless truth” is approached and interpreted by us differently in different space and time. Our hermeneutical tools differ depending on language, cultural presuppositions, political and economic factors and so on. If we properly deal with such things with the best intention of unity we can overcome the negative influences and achieve what Christ willed for us. The various doctrinal formulas and definitions created in the history of the Church must be subject to the ineffable mystery of the relationship between the Three Hypostases in the Holy Trinity and the Union of the divine and the human in the incarnate hypostasis of Jesus Christ, the Word of God. They are dynamic realities, and our concepts and language fall far short of their infinitely vibrant dynamism that we can only dimly experience but not articulate in any logical discourse . This apophatic approach taught to us by great discerning teachers and fathers of the church is sometimes lost sight of when we engage in the war of words without love and without sensitivity to the spiritual riches of our brothers and sisters. The long Christological division between the Eastern and Oriental Churches has been theologically overcome in the 20th century by the sustained efforts of our churches and their committed theologians under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. To the great joy of all Christians we stated that in spite of differences in interpretations and acrimonious conflicts in past history we hold the same apostolic faith and we proclaim the same Christ. In fact, we overcame 1500 years of prejudice, mistrust, exclusion, anathemas, and counter witness to Christ. However, this great accomplishment guided by the Holy Spirit is still not translated into the final Eucharistic Communion as expected. Unless we positively collaborate with the guidance of the Holy Spirit in realising fraternal love, mutual trust, forgiveness, compassion and unity as the great values of the Kingdom of God we will be stuck with scholastic definitions and formulas unable to move forward. Hence I attach great importance to an evolutionary view of our past conflicts and divisions with a view to experience the healing and unity of the Church as the one Body of Christ in true faith, forgiveness and love. Rev. Dr. Ihor Shaban Rev. Dr. Ihor Shaban expressed his gratitude to Vassiliadis’ optimism concerning the situation in Ukraine at the present time and the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church being an instrument for ecumenical reproachment between Eastern and Western Christianity. As Pope John-Paul II said Ukraine can really become a lavatory of ecumenism. And yes, there were special occasions during the present-day crises, especially the pandemic, of common Christian witness. What I want to stress is that ecumenism is not just a beautiful idea, but a style of our life. We can speak to the world as one body of Christ with one voice. What I consider as important, at least for me, what Fr Destivelle described as models of unity, eschatological, eucharistic etc. These can be better defined by the curia. We know as Uniates that this old model of unity cannot be applied today in the ecumenical era. And we are very delighted by Pope Francis conciliar process that is now going on in the Catholic Church Prof. Dimitrios Keramidas Prof. Dimitrios Keramidas reminded that "we need to study contemporary Catholic theology as a whole, not fragments of it, as it was for a long time the case among the Orthodox. We also need, especially, to understand the development of the Catholic ecclesiological understanding of the churches and confessions beyond her boundaries". Prof. Nikolaos Dimitriadis Fiinally, Prof. Nikolaos Dimitriadis, as the deputy-director of these Open Public Lectures, cordially thanked Rev. Prof Hyacinthe Destivelle for his lecture, as well as the moderator Emer. Prof. Petros Vassiliadis, and the two respondents Emer, Prof. Rev. K.M. George and Rev. Dr. Ihor Shaban, as well as Prof. Dimitrios Keramidas, for their contributions, and reminded next week’s (next Tuesday at the same time) Emer. Prof. Grigorios Larentzakis presentation in Greek – hoping with English translation – on “Was there a ‘canonical’ Schism between Rome and Constantinople?”, coordinated again by the President in Honour of CEMES, Emer. Prof. Petros Vassiliadis, with the Catholic Archbishop Ioannis Spiteris and the Greek Catholic Archbishop Dimitrios Salachas, both Emer. Professors.
2. Personality, Conciliarity & Sobornost in the New Testament Revelation of Human Being A New Language for the Orthodox-Catholic Relations by Rev. Dr. Georgy Kochetkov
An Open Public Lecture of CEMES on "Personality, Conciliarity and Sobornost in the New Testament and the Catholic-Orthodox Relations" by Rev. Georgy Kochetkov, founder of St. Philaret Christian Orthodox Institute of Moscow, and of the Transfiguration Brotherhood in Russia, introduced by Rev. Dr. Adalberto Mainardi. The full text of Fr. Georgy is below:
3. Historical Factors of the Estrangement between the Catholic and the Orthodox Church by Prof. Dimitrios Keramidas
The summary of Prof. Keramidas' presentation was: "The reasons for the break of communion between the Catholic and the Orthodox Church were of political, cultural, linguistic, and theological nature. The term “estrangement” describes the interaction between these factors, that lead to the episode of 1054 and eventually to the division between the Greek and the Latin church. But if separation is first lived and then declared, also unity will be first lived and then formally declared. According to Stephen Runciman, a schism is “the emergence of a separate faction within the church”. John Meyendorff, from his part, notes that “the schism, which finally separated them (the Greeks and the Latins), could not be identified with any particular event or even be dated precisely,” and comments that “the difficulties created by history could be resolved if there had been a common ecclesiological criterion to settle the theological, canonical, or liturgical issues keeping the East and the West apart.” So, theological divergences were not disconnected to political and cultural differences and on the other hand the pressure exercised by political and other cultural factors cannot explain completely the break between the two Churches. Meyendorff points out that between Rome and Constantinople there were different perceptions regarding ecclesiology (who exercise supreme authority in the Church) and theological method (more scholastic in the West more hesychastic in the East). Yet these developments, along with attempts at union, cannot describe entirely that communion that, at different levels, existed between the faithful of the two churches after the 11th century (at least still 13th century). So, the position expressed by Christos Yannaras that the translation of the works of Thomas Aquinas into Greek was the starting point of the “schism”, that is, of the alienation of the Orthodox Church from her own roots, does not take sufficiently into account the fact that there was a concrete and real dialogue between many social elements of the two churches, despite the existence of an “estrangement” between the two worlds. The “Saint Irenaeus’s” joint orthodox-catholic working document “Serving communion. Re-thinking the relationship between primacy and synodality” states that “political and cultural factors strongly influenced the development of ecclesiastical structures in East and West. Therefore, in examining the causes and consequences of schisms, the role of these factors must be considered and assessed theologically.” If a theological analysis of non-theological reasons is requested, the Orthodox should elaborate a theological interpretation of diversity within and among the Church. In that sense, the different narratives of the Orthodox and Catholic Churches can not only rediscover each other’s value but also interact dynamically. Mono-narratives should be replaced by micro-narratives, along with the encounter between different spiritual experiences (instead of the imposition of a single religious belief over the others), the enhancement of cultural diversity (instead of the colonization of a specific culture), so that convergence between Christians, rather than inter-confessional polemics, will prevail." In summarizing Dr. Keramidas speech, Dr. Kyriakides pointed out that: "Today's speaker emphasized, by presenting concrete examples, that this estrangement between the two churches has been a gradual process, is complex, and is caused by a combination of theological, historical, cultural, social, and psychological factors." In his comments, he suggested three factors to be considered when analyzing the course of relations between the two churches: 1) the terms used and their quality change over time, 2) the role and influence that the flock have, by applying the appropriate pressure, on key issues, and 3) the political influence that the Church has and its use by the authorities for extra-ecclesiastical purposes. Finally, he noted that Mr. Keramidas spoke not only about the estrangement of the two churches, but despite their differences, about their efforts of reconciliation as well.
4. Common Christian Witness in Catholic-Orthodox Theology by Rev. Prof. Cristian Sonea
An Open Public Lecture of CEMES, dedicated in this academic year to the Catholic-Orthodox Relations, given by given by the professor of the Cluj Napoca Romanian University. The coordinator is Emer. Prof. Petros Vassiliadis with Prof. Dimitrios Keramidas also participating in the discussion.
5. The Prospects of Reunion of the Orthodox Church with the Catholic and the Oriental Churches by Emer. Prof. Georgios Martzelos
A CEMES Open Public Lectune in the series of "The Unity of the Church of Christ" of MOET by Emer. Prof. Georgios Martzelos, with comments by Rev. Prof. Augustinos Bairactaris and Rev. Dr. Adalberto Mainardi
B. SYNODALITY IN THE CATHOLIC CHURCH AND THE ENDANGERED UNITY OF THE ORTHODOX CHURCH
This webinar seminar, organized by CEMES within the series of this academic year’s Open Public Lectures on “the Unity of the Church of Christ”, was moderated by Dr. Dimitrios Keramidas, CEMES Vice-President, and Dr. Marianna Napolitano, junior fellow of the Fondazione per le Scienze Religiose "Giovanni XXIII" of Bologna, with presentations on: a. The Conciliar Process in the Catholic Church. Model of an authentic ecclesiastical organization of the Church of Christ? (Fr. Prof. James Puglisi, Director of the"Centro Pro Unione", Rome); b. Primacy, Conciliarity, Autocephaly and the “negative” identity in some Orthodox circles (Emer. Prof. Petros Vassiliadis). c. Orthodox mission and the inculturation process in Africa (Dr. Rev. Ngige John Njoroge, Kenya). Followed by nearly an hour panel with the participation of Prof. Elizabeth Prodromou, Prof. Nicolas Abou Mrad, Rev. Prof. Cristian Sonea, and Rev. Profs. Andriy Dudchenko, Ihor Shaban, and Sergii Bortnyk, on: Geopolitics and Orthodox unity, Orthodox and Catholic views on Church unity, Ukraine between Rome and Moscow, and views of various autocephalous Churches. All within the framework of our (Orthodox and Catholic) common journey toward the Unity of the Church of Christ.
Emer. Prof. Vassiliadis' presentation on PRIMACY, CONCILIARITY, AUTOCEPHALY AND THE “NEGATIVE” IDENTITY DEVELOPED IN MODERN ORTHODOXY was the following: "Moving now to the endangered unity in the Orthodox Church, having heard by Rev. Prof. Giacomo Puglisi about the conciliar process in the Catholic Church,[i] I would like as a prelude to remind you what a great Christian thinker, Bl. Pascal wrote in his Pensées: “Plurality - in other words conciliarity – that does not lead to unity is confusion. Unity that does not depend upon plurality (i.e. conciliarity) is tyranny”. [ii] The Church of Rome declined the practice of granting autocephaly to her (western) jurisdiction, because she realized that this may give a higher priority to political principles as well as culturalism. The division with Protestantism was due to the denial of a possible ecclesial autonomy by the Church of Rome (1517), and few years later (1596) moved to the «unionist» Council of Brest-Litovsk. In reality, «autonomy» received entirely different path, compared to what later happened in Eastern Christianity, both in form and in content, when the Eastern Catholic Churches were united with Rome, thus accepting the reality of «Liturgical Ritus», but remaining further away from the reality of a real Eucharistic union. The Church of Constantinople, within a geopolitical context of the last two centuries, took the risk of granting Autocephaly. However, the Orthodox people, falling under the Protestant influence and driven by the ideals of modernity, turned autocephaly they were granted into an ecclesiastical culturalism and a political nationalistic ideology! The authentic Orthodox witness in today’s world, especially after the recent events in Africa revealed this real ecclesiological problem. What lies behind this present crisis is related to a distorted understanding of primacy and conciliarity. To these primary markers of Orthodox ecclesiology one further element came into the fore and need also to be examined: autocephaly. And I will start from this secondary, but important, issue. Autocephaly My Greek Orthodox Church two centuries ago started a series of schismatic situations, causing in fact a wave all over Eastern Europe of uncanonical nationalistic independent Orthodox Churches. Autocephaly, originally thought as the necessary step for the people’s national identity and aspirations, is now considered, at least by all Greek theologians, as the unfortunate move that contributed to the heresy of ethnophyletism and nationalistic tendencies in the Orthodox Church. The present Ukrainian crisis has revealed, and brought to the surface, yet another problem, indirectly related to primacy: Uniatism. This structure within the Catholic Church – historically developed mainly in the geographic area of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict – has, rightly or wrongly,[iii] negatively affected the progress of the bilateral dialogue between the Orthodox and the Catholic Churches. Today, most of us consider these Churches no longer as an obstacle, but maybe as bridges towards Orthodox-Catholic unity.[iv] The new situation in Ukraine, with the granting of autocephaly to the Orthodox in that country, unexpectedly brought also a wider ecumenical revival.[v] And ironically enough with the contribution of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic community.[vi] Conciliarity Conciliarity and primacy are two important aspects of Christian ecclesiology.[vii] Conciliarity is more or less an expression of the Church's charismatic nature. By the same logic, the concept of primacy for centuries now – mainly in Protestant theology, but in the recent past also in some parts of modern Orthodox theology – is associated only with the institutional expression of the Church. Nevertheless, it is to be found both in the New Testament and in patristic theology of the undivided Church, where it acquired not only a canonical legitimation, but also a theological foundation.[viii] In the early stages of Christianity, the Church functioned as a corporate entity, a real “body of Christ.” Gradually, however, all the canonical decisions were taken without a real consensus by the entire Christian community. The 3rd millennium, with the enormous scientific and technological development, sooner or later will increase the horizon of the conciliar process in its proper and authentic use. Pope Francis’ initiative to start an authentic lengthy conciliar process in the Catholic Church, engaging the entire “people of God,” will not only remove yet another obstacle towards a eucharistic union with her Orthodox “sister” Church; it will remind us – and alert us for – the profound meaning of our Orthodox ecclesiological identity. Primacy The most serious theological issue at stake, however, for our Orthodox witness is a diaconal primacy. The informal refusal within contemporary Orthodoxy to accept a Church with a visible head (a Πρώτος) destroys the basis of the Church's unity. The imperative necessity of having a primus at a universal level, is based on the existence of primacy in liturgy – if we believe that lex orandi lex est credendi – in all levels of ecclesiastical life: autocephaly, metropolitan, episcopal even at a local parish level. Any novel perception of Church unity, based primarily on power, (arithmetic superiority), which is currently discussed on the basis of the Holy Canons’ inability to solve recent geopolitical situations, and of course mainly promoted by the Russian Orthodox Church on the basis of Moscow being the capital of a currently dominant empire, as previously was the case with the Ecumenical Patriarchate at the city of New Rome, the capital of the Roman empire, can hardly have any ecclesiological justification. Orthodoxy’s negative identity Unfortunately, for many centuries, especially in the second half of the second millennium, we Orthodox have unconsciously developed a “negative” Orthodox identity: we are not what the Bible and our Tradition have left us as a legacy, but what the others, mainly the Catholics, are not, i.e., without a primacy, the visible expression of the Church’s unity, accompanied of course by conciliarity. In addition, the Christian East lost, unconsciously of course, the main point of reference to her identity, i.e. the “oneness” of the Church of Christ. It is not accidental that the very name she was given is “Orthodoxia,” right doctrine, with little or minimal reference to “catholicity”. It was inevitable, therefore, to develop an attitude of introversion, a very conservative approach to her missional responsibility, something that was mainly limited to the preservation of her rich “tradition,” and a reserved stance towards ecumenism, the main goal of which is the quest for unity, the overcoming the scandal of ecclesial separation and schism, and the restoration of the “One” Church of Christ. Quite naturally then, the Orthodox conceived of their Church more as the “Church of the Fathers,” or the “Church of Tradition,” than as the “Church of Christ.” Another determinant of her identity, namely the Orthodox Church as the “Church of the Synods,” actually lost its validity, historically by defying the last two Synods (jointly with the Church of Rome, i.e. with the West), those of Lyon and Ferrara-Florence (sticking to her “doctrinal” rather than “conciliar” identity, i.e. defending the Church’s right doctrine). And most recently by the last-minute withdrawal of certain autocephalous Churches from the prepared for nearly a century Panorthodox Synod, the main goal of which, as it was officially announced, was the affirmation of the Orthodox unity. To conclude, we Orthodox should revisit our witness to the entire world, both within and outside our canonical boundaries, on the basis of an authentic ecclesiology with its principal expression of unity, and especially catholicity, manifested in the Bible (“that we may all be one”), in the Creed (in which we confess that we believe in “One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church”), and in our liturgical tradition (unceasingly praying “for the union of all”). Fortunately, this was reaffirmed by the HGCOC declaring that “the Church does exist for herself, but for the world.” And, of course, the Orthodox should abandon any ethnophyletistic – even nationalistic – cultural element in their identity. And last, but not least, abandon an ideological understanding of “Orthodoxia,” mostly used not traditionally, ecclesiologically, and theologically, but against the western use of “Catholic” of our Western sister Church as their identity mark. As a first practical step towards a Eucharistic reunion with the Catholic Church, allow me to make a personal recommendation on the basis of what I presented above: Pope Francis and Patriarch Bartholomew– in view of the approaching 1700th anniversary of the First Ecumenical Council in Nicaea and their expressed wish to celebrate together Easter and possibly a truly ecumenical council – should unilaterally restore a kind of ecclesiastical unity between the Churches of Rome and Constantinople Rome, following the example of their predecessors, Patriarch Athenagoras and Pope Paul VI, who unilaterally lifted the anathemas of 1054." NOTES [i] Giacomo Puglisi, “The conciliar process in the Catholic Church. Model of an authentic ecclesiastical organization of the Church of Christ?” [ii] Paris, Seuil, 1962, p. 269. [iii] Uniatism, as the most reliable Greek Catholic scholar, and expert in Byzantine liturgy, the late Robert Taft, pointed out, “far from restoring the broken communion between East and West…led to new divisions” (“Anamnesis, Not Amnesia: The ‘Healing Memories’ and the Problem of ‘Uniatism’,” December 1, 2000 Lecture at the University of St. Michael's College, Toronto, at www.american catholicpress.org/Father_Taft_Anamnesis_Not_Amnesia.html). [iv] See my “Orthodox-Catholic and Greek Catholic Relations after the Ukrainian Crisis,” in V. Latinovic-A. Wooden Stolen Churches or Bridges to Orthodoxy? Volume 2 Ecumenical and Practical Perspectives on the Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Dialogue II, Palgrave 2021, 253-267. [v] For the origins of Uniatism one can consult the most reliable treatment on the issue, written by a Russian historian and theologian (of Ukrainian origin, born in Odessa), G. Florovsky. He started his chapter on “Uniatism” in the second part of his Ways of Russian Theology, with the following accurate assessment: “The Unia was less an act of religious choice than cultural and political self-determination. Neither reasons of faith nor of doctrine were fundamental to the secession of the bishops. The early Uniates were quite sincere in contending that ‘they did not change the faith.’ They felt they were only transferring jurisdictions and seem really to have believed that the ‘Latin faith’ and the ‘Greek faith’ were identical.” (http://www.holytrinitymission.org/ books/english/ way_russian_theology_florovsky.htm#). [vi] The Primate of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, Sviatoslav (Shevchuk) acknowledges: “we consider our Mother Church to be the Church of ancient Constantinople,” (“There is No Frenzy Against Catholics in Constantinople,” Interview with Patriarch Bartholomew in the French La Croix, March 1992). [vii] The concept of conciliarity is understood both in the broadest sense of the term (inclusiveness, participation, universal consultation on theological and practical aspects of church life, etc.), and in its narrow meaning, namely that of the order of ecclesiastical administration. [viii] More on this in (Metropolitan of Pergamon) Joannis Zizioulas, “Recent Discussions on Primacy in Orthodox Theology,” in Walter Kasper (ed.), Ilministeropetrino. Cattolici e Orodossi in dialogo, Citta nuova: Roma 2004, pp. 249-264. Also (Metropolitan of Silyvria) Maximos Vgenopoulos, Primacy in the Church from Vatican I to Vatican II: A Greek Orthodox Perspective, Ph.D. dissertation at Heythrop College, London 2008. Rev. Dr. John N. Njoroge’s comment is as follows: My comment will focus on Inculturation from an African Orthodox perspective. The main objective is to bring into account, and especially from a missiological point of view, an argument proving the need to have an “African Orthodox Church”. To have an African Orthodox Church means having Orthodox faith imbued within the African worldview and lifestyle, as it grows and spread in South Saharan Africa. It will focus on the Orthodox faith as understood and practiced in the Eastern Orthodox Churches under the jurisdiction of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria and All Africa. Africa is a religious continent, meaning that the inhabiting communities have different religious systems with a set of beliefs and practices that actually, determine their worldviews, lifestyle and connection to the deity (God). According to John S. Mbiti, (1969) all African cultures and societies, traditional (pre-colonial) and contemporary (post-colonial), across the continent and regardless of differences in national origin, language, or ethnicity are deeply religious. This is why religion permeates all their aspects of life so it is not easy or possible to isolate it. In this case, dialogue with these religious systems is therefore a dialogue with the African peoples themselves in all the complexities of traditional and modern way life. Given the centrality of religious beliefs and practices in African, inculturation is essential for it will facilitate the African people to live the Orthodox faith as their own African way of life. In this intervention, the term inculturation will be used to denote a process through which Christian faith already embodied in a given culture is encountering another culture. In this context the Orthodox faith which has already been embodied in Hellenistic culture is encountering the African culture(s). The term Orthodoxy will be used to mean the Orthodox faith as outlined and practiced worldwide. Africa with be used to mean African continent and African will demonstrate African-ness. Inculturation Process within the Orthodox Church in Africa From a missiological perspective, the term inculturation is used as a concept that denotes the procedural patterns in which the Christian faith manifests itself in a given context, in a given time and place. Inculturation, when understood as a process, demonstrates that manifestation of planting of the Christian faith and the gospel of Jesus Christ, in the soil of the African contex. In the process of inculturation, the energies of the Holy Spirit transform culture and people involved into a new creation. The condition of transformation in inculturation is the willingness of the local community to give up those cultural elements that are not compatible with the Gospel. This happens when the unending dialogical process of inculturation balances culture in the anthropological sense of the word and the divine transforming work of the Holy Spirit. This dialogue should take place as a platform for interaction of the faith and culture through mutual critique and affirmation. According to Laurenti Magesa (2004, 5), inculturation is a process whereby faith already embodied in one culture encounters another culture. The aim of this encounter is to have the faith become part and parcel of a given “new culture”. As far as the Eastern Orthodox Church is concerned, the Orthodox faith is already spreading beyond the traditional, Orthodox cultures (Hellenic, Syriac, Slavonic, Ethiopian and Coptic) into Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, Alaska and Americas, where the Orthodox theology and ethos have to be embodied in these “new” cultural contexts. This raises important question on how Orthodoxy will be embodied into these “new” cultural contexts. This calls Orthodox theologians and missiologists to creatively come up with authentic method to be applied in the process on inculturation. The need for an authentic method is because inculturation entails acceptance or rejection, giving up or receiving thought forms, symbolic and linguistic expressions, attitudes and practices between the faith and new culture. Concerning the Orthodox Church in south Saharan Africa, the process of inculturation may not require a systematic planning and arrangement but will require critical study and theological direction. This is why it is crucial to go back to the biblical, liturgical practices and theologies that articulate inculturation, for example that of the local church by John Zizioulas. According to John Zizioulas (2002, 254), to be local means the church has taken roots in a given place with all its cultural, natural, social, and any other characteristic that constitutes the life, values and thoughts of the people involved. The process of becoming “African local church” will easy facilitate the transformation of the Orthodox theological thoughts to meet the African social-psychological- religious ethos. Consequently, making the Africans uphold Orthodoxy as their way of life, living it and apparently, Orthodoxy become meaningful by responding to their day-to-day live concerns. In order for this to happen in the Orthodox Church in south Saharan Africa, key areas of Orthodox life must be highly considered. These areas includes (although not limited to), worship, sacraments and church leadership. The current situation of the Orthodox Christianity south Saharan Africa calls for a new mission paradigm that would facilitate inculturation. However, in order for this to happen, the Orthodox theology of mission has to develop and moreover, identify crucial areas for inculturation. This proposes a dialogical process between African religious way of life and the main Orthodox faculties such as dogmatic and liturgics, biblical and pastoral theology. Apparently, this would result to Orthodox theological ethos be incarnated within the Africa way of life. Inculturation in the Orthodox Church in south Saharan Africa is a necessity, a mission and a call. Looking back to the history of the Orthodox Church in East Africa, this call started in 1930s, when the African Independent Churches broke away from the “Mission Churches”. The breaking away from the mission churches was because of cultural imperialism, evangelising methodologies and the collaboration of the mission churches with the colonial authorities. The founding of African Independent Churches (AICs) or the so-called African Instituted Churches or African Initiatives in Christianity has to be understood as a call towards a mission of inculturation within the churches in East Africa. This quest for inculturation was initially understood as a problem for the mission of a church by the Western European and North American mission churchesxi. However, the emerging of the AICs is primarily an extension of the need to inculturate mission Christianity to fit into by the African spiritual realities. The AICs aspired for an “African Christianity” that would contextualize the Gospel of Jesus Christ to be good news for Africa and in addition contribute to the world Christianity. The need for contextualized African Christianity made Africans like Reuben Mukasa Spartas who by then had broken with the Anglican Church of Uganda to search for Orthodoxy. For Spartas’, he was searching for a true faith that would satisfy his people’s social-religious and economic- political dissatisfaction experienced in their former Mission Churches. This brings into account the inculturation process seeking for identity. For Africans and especially in the AICs, both cultural and ecclesial identities were paramount, for they wanted to remain true African Christians something that was denied in their former mission churches. For one to be regarded a true Christian, has to adopt western lifestyle as practiced in mission stations. The seeking for cultural and ecclesial identities is one of the key aspects of inculturation process. This informs the peculiarities of one culture and how they can be incompatible with Christian faith which is an identity by itself. This is why Spartas sought affiliation with African Orthodox Church in America (AOCA) and in 1925 he wrote to Archbishop George Alexander McGuire the primate of AOCAxii requesting for admission to AOCA and instructions on how to read the bible and preaching. In answering Spartas, McGuire did put him into contact with Archbishop Daniel William Alexander, whom was in charge of AOCA in South Africa. Archbishop William Daniel Alexander extended his mission to Uganda in 1931 - 1932 where he ordained Reuben Spartas and Obadiah Kabanda Basajakitalo into priesthood. He also extended his mission to Kenya where he trained and ordained Arthur Gatung’u Gathuna of Kikuyu Karing’a Education Association (KKEA), which later became the Orthodox Church of Kenya. It can be concluded that by training and being affiliated to AOCA, the AICs in Kenya and Uganda go an ecclesial identity that enabled them to profess that they are Orthodox in faith. Having gotten this identity the Orthodox Church in East Africa spread rapidly. For example, from 1937 to 1952 there were 309-congregation spread throughout Kenya, with a membership of about 30,000 followers. The rapid growth is a clear indication of inculturation process. Whereby there is the keeping of one’s cultural identity and values on one hand and on the other professing the true Christian faith. The same need for identity made Fr. Spartas to seek affiliation with the Greek Orthodox patriarchate of Alexandria when he realized that AOCA was not canonical Orthodox Church. Some of the things that Fr. Spartas questioned were: first the Apostolic Succession of Archbishop George Alexander McGuire who had ordained Daniel William Alexander and secondly the liturgical rites of AOCA. For example, analysing the text and comparing it with the other mainstream Christian liturgies, its formal structure is that of Roman Catholicism, with a mixture of textual prayers borrowed from the Anglican and its rituals from the Eastern Oriental Orthodox rites. In the inculturation process, the issue of keeping one’s cultural identity and at the same time professing Christianity can bring confusion. However, a mechanism of balancing the two is paramount. For example, when the Orthodox Church started in Kenya, members of this church were referred to as the “Agikuyu Karing’a” meaning pure Kikuyu i.e. those who never wanted to abandon their cultural values and substitute them with the Christian lifestyle as taught by the protestant missionaries. As a mechanism of balancing one’s identity the Agikuyu Karing’a maintained that they never said they would have nothing to do with God; they were anti- western lifestyle, not anti-God or Christianity. They state that they are Christians and no way would they be termed heathen simply because they are Kikuyu. They justified themselves with the several similarities and parallelisms drawn from the newly Kikuyu translated Bible. First, and in general Kikuyu never had a different concept of Ngai (God) than that of Biblical God. Neither did the missionaries who translated the word of the Biblical God as Ngai in Kikuyu language. Kikuyu concept of God is monotheistic just as it is in the Hebrew Bible. Further, AgikuyuKaring’a argued being Kikuyu Christians did not justify the mission to deny them Holy Communion due to practicing cultural practices such as circumcision because St. Paul states that circumcision is nothing and no circumcision is nothing but obeying the commandment of God is everything (1 Cor 7:19, Gal 6:15). Rather, in the inculturation process, this is clear test on how far should faith in Jesus Christ replace the Kikuyu traditional customs & practices. This test forms a beginning of the most appropriate way of incarnating Christianity; thus facilitating a dialogue between biblical Christianity and African cosmologies. Drawing similarities and parallelisms from the bible and Christian tradition and imbuing them to cultural practices results to one of the authentic measures of inculturation process. Such authentic measures resulted to bringing assurance to the adherents of the Orthodox Church in East Africa. From this assurance they start to draw new meaning and self-understanding within the faith. When AICs started, these churches understood themselves as “New communities of faith” who draw their beliefs and practices from the Bible, while functioning structurally like a traditional African family or homestead. Such self-understanding occurs because faith does not exist in a vacuum of space and time but holds on cultural systems expressed rituals and symbols of a given cultural context. Specifically, when the Orthodox Church started in Kenya, the Kikuyu people understood the church as a family. This is based on the principle of common kinship, where by the kikuyu people are one big family tied and united together by the family norms and values of Gikuyu and Mumbi their ancestors. In this understanding, a transformed African family would perfectly image a new family of God that brings together those who are born again in water and in spirit (John 3:5). Therefore, according to St. Paul this family becomes a household of God (Gal 6:10, 1 Tim 3:15). Today in the inculturation process, Christian baptism can adopt the African notion of being born in a family, which demonstrates strongly the sense of belonging. In Christian understanding belonging to a community of believers i.e. the church. Inculturation facilitates contextualized reading and interpretation of the word of God. Contextualized reading and interpretation of the scriptures enables adherents of a given culture understand the Gospel of Christ (Evaggelion) and its meaning to them. For Example, the AICs interpreted the biblical stories and especially the Old Testament to reflect the experiences of the colonial era, schism with the mission churches and cultural-religious orientations of African Christians. Interestingly, for the Africans to be under colonial powers was interpreted as being in slavery. This metaphor was understood as similar to the Israelites’ slavery in Egypt (Exodus 1 - 18). The story of Israelites’ exodus from Egypt become very popular, many similarities were drawn, for example leaders in the AICs were acknowledged as “Moses” who would lead God’s people out of slavery to the freedom. The hardships encountered both in colonial slavery and in the process of forming the African Orthodox Church were very similar. Such experiences by then were internal conflicts, hunger, diseases and alienation from ancestral lands (Lam 5:1-5). The hope of new land was the formation of an African Church that would liberate its members and deliver them into “Canaan” (Kingdom of God) through faith in Jesus. During the early years of Christianity in Africa, mutual collaboration of the mission churches and the colonial government gave an impression that the western culture and lifestyle is a Christian culture. This limited the possibilities of facilitating dialogue between the gospel and the African culture and lifestyle. There is a great disconnect between the biblical culture and the Western European culture and lifestyle. For example, during the colonial times, western missionaries enhanced the concept of the “Lord or Master” which was negative to the Africans, and in the process of inculturation the native African Christians opt for “Savior or Liberator” instead. This proves that inculturation process facilitates reading the bible as one’s story and at the same time answering problems and challenges experienced. Apparently, as the native people were reading the newly translated bible, their stories were becoming even more close to the social- political and cultural-religious notion of the Hebrew bible especially on religious ritualism and symbolism, sacrifice and offerings, prophesy and healing, circumcision, marriage and family. Inculturation enables the gospel and its’ truth to be meaningful to the African needs, life-view and life-style. One of the key areas of the African religiosity that this is experience is worship. Worship in African understanding brings that acute consciousness of the unity between humanity and visible and invisible universe. For most Africans, art and music accompanied by instruments and rhythms in worship brings forth a wonderful concentration of both the psyche and body, energizing the persons involved to communicate with God. In this case, however, the Orthodox liturgical worship as the center of the Orthodox life has to be communicated through the African linguistic framework and thought, symbolism and color, dances and lyrics. Abbess Marina, a Finnish missionary in Kenya once observed: For the Kikuyu, it was very easy to accept the Orthodox Christianity because in some respects, it is very close to his own traditional religion. For Example, when an Orthodox priest lifts up the Holy Gifts in the Holy Eucharist, the African who belongs to the Kikuyu tribe remembers at once the way his forefathers, the tribe's priest, offered the lamb to their own god. For the African Orthodox Christians to enjoy the Eucharistic cerebration’s introduction of African rhythms, dances, drums and clapping is necessary. Because this has not been done, what is happening in most African Orthodox churches is African songs and dances, clapping and dancing are coming after the liturgy. This is showing the need to inculturate the liturgy to become part of the African way of worship. This need and call for inculturation of Christianity made the first African Orthodox leaders like Fr. Spartas Reuben Mukasa to seek affiliation with the Greek Patriarchate of Alexandria. This affiliation has been essential for both the African church and the entire Orthodox Church worldwide. Despite many unprecedented mission shortcomings, the meeting of Orthodox missionaries and the African Orthodox Church created a platform for dialogue between Orthodoxy and African religiosity. This dialogue can be done in the spirit of witness which guides us into the whole truth (John 16:12-14). Guidance to the whole true would apply to the totality of African aspect of life; social, economic, political and spiritual. In the African traditional religion, there are no indications where the religion ends and where the social, cultural and political aspect of life begins. This can also be witnessed in early religion of ancient Greece, whereby today the relation between religion and polity in Orthodox Christianity has its roots in ancient Greece, where religion was understood as the cultic life of the polis, never conceivable outside it. Therefore, the coming and accepting of Christianity especially within the AICs was not practically viewed as something separate from the social, political organization of the society. This was rather a call to the entire Christianity in Africa to facilitate inculturation of African religious values, like communal life. This could have made African Christianity to be deeply rooted into the day-to-day life. From traditional Orthodox circles inculturation may be considered new and strange, however for two-thousand-year Christianity has undergone “cultural surgeries”, meaning it has been incultured in different world cultural contexts. For example, Jesus Christ became incarnate and grew within the Jewish culture, Apostle Paul preaching to the gentile, Cappadocian fathers integrated the gospel of Christ and communicated it to their followers in images and symbols of the Hellenism, Cyril and Methodius, inculturated Orthodoxy to the Slavic culture, while St. Herman and St. Innocent (Veniaminov) of Alaska brought Orthodoxy too close to the native customs and believes of the Aleutian people. To this regard, it has come a time the Patriarchate of Alexandria as the fountain of Orthodoxy in Africa to unwrap its “Greek-centered cultural monism” and open more towards communities in Africa. This will start by initiating the process if inculturation; starting with leadership and especially having more native African bishops. The current Patriarch Theodore II has so far ordained four native African Bishops: H.E. Ieronimos, Metropolitan of Mwanza, H.G. Innocentios Bishop of Rwanda and Burundi, H.G. Neophytos, Bishop of Nyeri and Mt. Kenya and H.G. Athanasios, Bishop of Kisumu and Western Kenya. Then theological education that will guide the process of the localization of the Orthodox Church in Africa. To be local means the church has taken roots in a given place with all its cultural, natural, social, and any other characteristic that constitutes the life, values and thoughts of the people involved. This is well justified in the Orthodox Eucharistic worship where people offer to God as the body of Christ all that is “His Own”, (Your own of your own we offer to you). Therefore, Orthodoxy has to become truly African church by absorbing and using local characteristics of Africa that are compatible with the gospel. In order to archive this, the Orthodox seminary in Nairobi has to deepen its theological training and seek new theological hermeneutical approaches to interpreting and translating Orthodox ethos into African context. This will aim at stabilizing Orthodoxy among the Africans and creating platform from which Orthodox faith can give answers to social problems that are affecting African society. Africa is a home of diverse religions practices and it is therefore important for the Orthodox seminary schools to introduce in their African religious and cultural studies. Such studies would equip the graduates with knowledge of African culture and skills to constructively engage in dialogical process of inculturation. Conclusion In conclusion it is worth noting that right from the beginning the AICs, inspired for an Africanized Christianity. Native Africans like Fr. Spartas of Uganda searched for ecclesial identity and that is how he ended up being Orthodox. To be African Christians was to happen through inculturation. This is why they read the biblical stories as their own stories, drawing similarities and parallelisms in order to have ecclesial identity on one hand and on the other hand maintain their African cultural values. Given the phenomenological growth of Orthodoxy in south Saharan Africa, Africanization of Orthodox faith is necessary. In order to Africanize Orthodoxy it is important to ask how Orthodox faith will be embodied into African cultural contexts? This calls Orthodox theologians and missiologists to creatively come up with authentic method to be applied in the process on inculturation. The need for an authentic method is because inculturation entails acceptance or rejection, giving up or receiving thought forms, symbolic and linguistic expressions, attitudes and practices between the faith and new culture. Concerning the Orthodox Church in south Saharan Africa, the process of inculturation may not require a systematic planning and arrangement but will require critical study, theological direction and dialogue between orthodox ethos and African religiosity. This is why it is crucial to go back to the biblical, liturgical practices and theologies that articulate inculturation. The process of becoming “African local church” will easy facilitate the transformation of the Orthodox theological thoughts to meet the African social-psychological-religious ethos. Consequently, making the Africans uphold orthodoxy as their way of life, living it and apparently, orthodoxy become meaningful by responding to their day-to-day live concerns. In order for this to happen in the Orthodox Church in south Saharan Africa, key areas of Orthodox life must be highly considered. These areas include (although not limited to), worship, sacraments and church leadership. Orthodox liturgical worship being the center of the Orthodox life it is necessary to introduce African rhythms, dances, drums and clapping. This would result to making the liturgy part of the African way of worship. The creation of the Russian Exarchate in African and the establishment of Russian Orthodox Church in Africa under Moscow patriarchate is bringing confusion into this process of Inculturation. Russian church could engage in mission in African under the Alexandria patriarchate rather than dividing the African church. This kind of division will limit more the possibilities of dialogical and inculturational engagement between African religious ethos and Orthodox ethos.
Rev. Dr. Ihor Shaban's comment focusing mainly on Synodality in the Eastern Catholic Church (Ukrainian issue) was: "Conception of the synodality existed from its beginning in the Church of Kyiv. It was also continued when bishops of Kyivan Church had signed up a union with the Bishop of Rome in 1596. And it is true, that with time a tendency toward a unification of the disciplines of the Eastern Catholic Churches with the Latin form has been increased. So in a short period Greek Catholic Churches started to use the western form of governance and to function as bishop’s conferences in the Roman Church, it means as an advisory body without special authority and power. We fully understand, that in this situation there was a clash of two different ecclesiologies, becouse it is a difference between synod in the Eastern Churches and synod in the Latin Church, where synod does not have authority for the whole Church, but only for one diocese or province. But it is also a true, that in the middle of the 20th century, right after Patriarch Josyf Slipyj the Head of the UGCC released from a prison in Siberia, the synodal tradition was started again regularly up to this days as oldes rights and privileges of the Kyivan Church".
6.Ecumenical Relations of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church by Rev. Dr. Ihor Shaban
The Ukranian Greek Catholic Church's Secretary of the Ecumenical Relation presenting a CEMES Open Public Lecture, dedicated this academic year to Orthodox-Catholic Relations. Coordinator: Rev. Dr. Rostyslav Vorobii, with Emer. Prof. Petros Vassiliadis and Prof. Augustinos Bairactaris, Prof. Andrii Krawchuk and Rev. Dr. Adalberto Mainardi participation in the discussion. Rev. Dr. Ihor Schaban's presentation: Emer. Prof. Petros Vassiliadis' remarks: "Why Ukraine and its religious landscape is important and matter so much? Why is Ukraine considered nowadays the center of attention and concern? Is it the autocephaly, or its geopolitical status? Maybe one of them or both. But there is something more serious that has just been discovered. Ukraine, or the geographical area of the present independent state, was in the past the arena of encounter and clash of the two main theological and spiritual streams of Christianity, Eastern and Western. And today is the place where this past bleeding wound can either be prolonged to the detriment of the Orthodox image and her witness to the world or through a healing process and reconciliation can lead Christianity at large to a new era, with ecumenical encounter, and why not restoration of Church unity, “for the life of the World”. In a previous event I suggested as a first practical step towards a Eucharistic communion with the Catholic Church, that Pope Francis and Patriarch Bartholomew – in view of the approaching 1700th anniversary of the First Ecumenical Council in Nicaea and their expressed wish to celebrate together Easter and possibly a truly ecumenical council – that they can unilaterally restore a kind of ecclesiastical unity between the Churches of Rome and Constantinople, following the example of their predecessors, Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras, who unilaterally lifted the anathemas of 1054, because it was their Churches that for psychological or geopolitical reasons started the eventual break of Eucharistic communion. The new situation in Ukraine with the granting of autocephaly to the Orthodox in that country unexpectedly brought also a wider ecumenical revival. And ironically enough with the contribution of the UGCC in religious reconciliation in Ukraine and their openly expressed views in favor of a Ukrainian autocephaly. The Ukrainian Greek Catholic community, for nearly half a millennium a problem in the Ukrainian/Russian history, has suddenly emerged as one of the main players in fostering ecumenical relations, the way even the famous Balamand Declaration for promoting the Orthodox-Catholic dialogue has failed in the past. To my knowledge, in addition to their signing the 2014 Memorandum of single and unified UkrainianAutocephalous Orthodox Church, in a survey under the title “What the Orthodox Church of Ukraine and the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church Can Teach Each Other,” following the announcement of the EP’s determination to grant autocephaly, the Ukrainian Greek Catholics did not hesitate to answer: “Broad participation in church government,” something so important in the “venerable Orthodox tradition.” And after the Ecumenical Patriarchate invited ordinary clergy and laity in addition to bishops to the December 15 unification council, they declared: “Without neglecting the conciliar tradition of the Catholic Church, the Greek-Catholic Ukrainian Church can also learn from the strong Orthodox traditions of synodality and lay participation. This applies not only to the conduct of major councils, but to the election of bishops and priests,” (and I would add to the entire ecclesiastical life, the liturgical one included, from parish to the universal expression of it). Now with Pope Francis’ initiative to restore authentic synodality in his Church, the situation seems more favorable. His Beatitude Mgr. Sviatoslav (Shevchuk), underlined, that “in Ukraine there is an interesting perspective for ecumenical dialogue in the context of new possibilities.” And in an interview, he went as far as expressing a bold optimistic view, that “the restoration of Eucharistic communion between Rome and Constantinople is not utopian thinking, as some people call it. This is the goal of the ecumenical movement. This is the fulfillment of the commandment of Christ, ‘that all may be one’.” For the origins of Uniatism the Orthodox can also rely on the most accurate treatment on the issue, written by a Russian historian and theologian (of Ukrainian origin, born in Odessa), the late George Florovsky. He started his chapter on “Uniatism” in the second part of his Ways of Russian Theology, with the following assessment: “The Unia was less an act of religious choice than cultural and political self-determination. Neither reasons of faith nor of doctrine were fundamental to the secession of the bishops. The early Uniates were quite sincere in contending that ‘they did not change the faith.’ They felt they were only transferring jurisdictions and seem really to have believed that the ‘Latin faith’ and the ‘Greek faith’ were identical.” It is no wonder, therefore, what Pope John Paul II few decades ago spoke about Ukraine as “a laboratory of ecumenism.” Similarly, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, during the 1991 festal celebrations in Rome at St. Peter’s Cathedral acknowledged: “With historic changes, especially in the last two years, opportunities for cooperation have been created for the common witness and a deeper unity of our Sister Churches.” So, in this sense, the Primate of the Greek Catholics in Ukraine expressed his desire “to cooperate with the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church. We have even agreed with His Beatitude Epiphanius, to work out a certain ‘road map,’ acknowledging that his own Church “carries the mystical ecclesiastical memory of the undivided Christianity of the first millennium…we consider our Mother Church to be the Church of ancient Constantinople”.
7. Orthodox and Catholic in Common Bible Translation Projects by Emer. Prof. Miltiadis Konstantinou
A CEMES Open Public Lectune in the series of the Master Program in Orthodox Ecumenical Theology (MOET), focusing this academic year on "The Unity of the Church of Christ". It was moderated by Dr. Georgios Adam, with Emer. Prof. Petros Vassiliadism Prof. Nicolas Abou Mrad and Dr. Pavlos Vasileiadis participating in the discussion
8. Orthodox-Catholic Relations in Ukraine: Diagnosis, Goals, and Strategies by Emer. Prof. Andii Krawchuk
A CEMES Open Public Lecture by Emer. Prof. Andrii Krawchuk in the series of lectures, dedicated this academic year to Orthodox-Catholic Relations. Coordinator: Prof. Sergii Bortnyk. with Rev. Prof. Augustinos Bairactaris and Rev. Dr Adalberto Mainardi joining the discussion Prof. Krawchuk's presentation is:
9. The renewal of the Church of Christ: Fr. Alexander Schmemann’s Contribution to the Ecumenical Theology by Rev. Dr. Georgios Basioudis
10. The vision of Orthodox-Catholic Reconciliation and Christian unity in Patriarch Bartholomew and Chiara by Rev. Prof. AugustinosBairactaris
11. The Struggle of Ukraine for Freedom and the Historical and Theological Background of the Russian Invation in Ukraine by Archbishop of Otawa Lazar (Puhalo) and Abbott of Esfigmenou Monastery Bartholomew.
Archbishop Lazar's presentation:
Abbott Bartholomew's presentation:
THE CEMES 2021-22 OPEN PUBLIC LECTURES
The University of Saint Katherine (USK) and the Center of Ecumenical, Missiological and Environmental Studies (CEMES) decided to devote this academic year’s Open Public Lectures of their Master Program in “Orthodox Ecumenical Theology” (MOET) to the “Eastern/Oriental Orthodox-Latin/Greek Catholic relations”. I.The English program’s lectures will be delivered and coordinated by members of CEMES and the Scientific Committee and Teaching Staff of MOET, as well as by selected scholars of the Pontifical University of St. Thomas (Angelicum), the Ecumenical Monastery of Bose, and the Oriental Orthodox and the Greek Catholic Churches, and are scheduled at 18:00-19:30 Greek time (16:00-17:30 GMT and 08:00-9:30 California time). II. Parallel to these English lectures, this academic year CEMES will also inaugurate a series of Open Public Lectures in Greek for the Greek speaking public around the globe on the same general theme and the same time. In both the English and the Greek series of lectures, in addition to the coordinator and the speaker two more scholars(in brackets) will be scheduled to join them for an in-depth discussion in an as much as possible balanced form. All lectures will have automatic YouTube interpretation. TUESDAY 30.11.21 Rev. Prof. Hyacinth Destivelle: “From Schism to Imperfect Communion. Evolution of the View of the Catholic Church on Division”. Coordinator, introducing the se: Emer. Prof. Petros Vassiliadis (Rev. Emer. Prof. K. M. George – Rev. Dr. Ihor Shaban) TUESDAY 07.12.21 Emer. Prof. Grigorios Larentzakis: “Was there a Canonical Schism Between Rome and Constantinople:” Coordinator: Emer. Prof. Petros Vassiliadis (Archbishop Ioannis Spiteris - Archbishop. Dimitrios Salachas) FRIDAY 17.12.21 Rev. Georgy Kochetkov: “Personality, Conciliarity & Sobornost in the New Testament Revelation of Human Being. The New Language of Orthodox-Catholic Relations”. Coordinator: Rev. Prof. Hyacinth Destivelle (Emer. Prof. Petros Vassiliadis – Dr. Zoya Dachevskaya) TUESDAY 21.12.21 Emer. Prof. Archbishop Ioannis Spiteris:“The Search for Synodality and the future of Orthodox-Catholic Relations”. Coordinator: Metr. οf Nigeria Giannitis (Rev. Prof. Αugustinos Bairaktaris – Emer. Prof. Kostas Αgoras) FRIDAY 07.1.22 Prof. Dimitrios Keramidas: “Historical Factors of the Estrangement between the Catholic and the Orthodox Church”. Coordinator: Rev. Prof. Cristian Sonea (Prof. Dimitrios Stamatopoulos – Dr. Theodosios Kyriakidis) TUESDAY 11.1.22 Emer. Prof. Georgios Martzelos:“The Prospects of Reunion of the Orthodox Church with the Catholic and the Oriental Churches”. Coordinator: Rev. Emer. Prof. K. M. George (Rev. Prof. Augustinos Bairaktaris – Rev. Dr. Adalberto Mainardi) FRIDAY 14.1.22 Panagiotis Αndriopoulos: «From the Embracing of Peter and Paul to that of Andrew and Peter». Coordinator: Prof. Αntonia Κyriatzi (Emer. Prof. Archbishop Ioannis Spiteris - Emer. Prof. Grigorios Larentzakis) TUESDAY 18.1.22 Συνοδικότητα στην Καθολική Εκκλησία και η εύθραυστη Ενότητα της Ορθόδοξης Εκκλησίας Διαδικτυακό σεμινάριο με τη συμμετοχή των μελών του CEMES FRIDAY 21.1.22 Synodality in the Catholic Church and the Endangered Unity of the Orthodox Church A Webinar Seminar with Participants of the Open Public Lectures of CEMES TUESDAY 25.1.22 Rev. Prof. Cristian Sonea: “Common Christiaan Witness in Catholic-Orthodox Christian Mission”. Coordinator: Prof. Dimitrios Keramidas (Rev. Dr. J. Njoroge Ngige – Rev. Dr. Gregory Edwards) FRIDAY 28.1.22 Rev. Dr. Ihor Shaban: “Ecumenical Relations of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church”. Coordinator Rev. Prof. Andriy Dudchenko (Emer. Prof. Petros Vassiliadis - Emer. Prof. Georgios Martzelos) TUESDAY 01.2.22 Emer. Prof. Μiltiadis Konstantinou:“Orthodox and Catholic in Common Bible Translation Projects”. Coordinator: Rev. Dr. Georgios Adam (Prof. Nicolas Abou Mrad – Dr. Pavlos Vasileiadis) FRIDAY 04.2.22 Αδελφή Δρ. Θεολογία Αδαμτζίλογλου: «Διακόνισσες στην Εκκλησία του Χριστού κατά την πρώτη χιλιετία, με ειδική αναφορά στην Αγ. Νόννα». Συντονίστρια: Kαθ. Αντωνία Κυριατζή. (Ομότ. Καθ. Πέτρος Βασιλειάδης – Δρ. Σπυριδούλα Αθανασοπούλου-Κυπρίου) FRIDAY 11.2.22 Prof. Petros Panagiotopoulos “Orthodox and Catholic Encounter with Science in the Past and Now” Coordinator: Prof. Niki Papageorgiou. (Καθ. Δημήτριος Σταματόπουλος - Prof. Nikolaos Dimitriadis) TUESDAY 15.2.22 Καθ. Δημήτριος Σταματόπουλος, «Πανορθόδοξες πολιτικές του Οικουμενικού Πατριαρχείου και η Καθολική Εκκλησία: Μια κριτική προσέγγιση της ιδεολογίας του οικουμενισμού (τέλη 19ου - αρχές 20αι.)». Συντονιστής: Αρσένιος Αρσενάκης Μ.Τh. (Ομότ. Καθ. Γρηγόριος Λαρεντζάκης - Ομότ. Καθ. Πέτρος Βασιλειάδης) TUESDAY 22.2.22 Emer. Prof. Andrii Krawchuk: “Orthodox-Catholic relations in Ukraine: Diagnosis, Goals, and Strategies” Coordinator: Prof. Sergii Bortnyk (Rev. Dr. Adalberto Mainardi – Rev. Prof. Augustinos Bairaktaris) FRIDAY 25.2.22 “Εκκλησιολογική, Κανονική και Γεωπολιτική Διάσταση της Κρίσεως στην Ενότητα της Ορθοδοξίας και η Καθολική Εκκλησία Χθες και Σήμερα" Συντονιστής: Ομότ. Καθ. Πέτρος Βασιλειάδης Συζητούν μέλη και φίλοι του CEMES TUESDAY 01.3.22 Rev. Dr. Georgios Basioudis: “The renewal of the Church of Christ: Fr. Alexander Schmemann’s Contribution to the Ecumenical Theology”. Coordinator. Rev. Prof. Stylianos Muksuris (Emer. Prof. Petros Vassiliadiς - Rev. Dr. Daniel Galadza) TUESDAY 08.3.22 Rev. Prof. Augustinos Bairactaris: “The vision of Orthodox-Catholic Reconciliation and Christian unity in Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and in Chiara's works” . Coordinator: Dr. Adalberto Mainardi (Emer. Prof. Georgios Martzelos– Prof. Rev. Daniel Galadza) TUESDAY 15.3.22 Καθ. Στ. Γιαγκάζογλου:«Πνευματολογία και οι προοπτικές Ορθοδοξο-Καθολικού διαλόγου». Συντονιστής: Καθ. Χριστόφορος Αρβανίτης. (Αρχιεπ. Ιωάννης Σπιτέρης - Αρχιεπ. Δημήτριος Σαλάχας). TUESDAY 22.3.22 Rev. Prof. Cyril Hovorun-Rev. Prof. Panteleimon Manoussakis“Meta-ecclesiology, Eucharistic & Baptismal Ecclesiology and the Prospects of Catholic-Orthodox Reunion”. Coordinator. Emer. Prof. Petros Vassiliadis. Discussion among members and friends of CEMES TUESDAY 29.3.22 Καθ. Δημ. Mόσχος - Καθ. Παν. Yφαντής: «Ιστορικοί παράγοντες της διακοπής κοινωνίας Ρώμης-Κων/πόλεως & Kαθολικοί Μάρτυρες στην Χριστιανική Ανατολή – Η νέα οικουμενική περίοδος». Συντονιστής: Καθ. π. Luca Bianchi. (Καθ. Δημήτριος Σταματόπουλος - Δρ. Θεοδόσιος Kυριακίδης) FRIDAY 01.4.22 Ομότ. Καθ. Πέτρος Βασιλειάδης - Καθ. Νικόλαος Δημητριάδης:«Η Ορθόδοξη Εκκλησία μετά την Κρίση στην Ουκρανία και οι Σχέσεις της με την Καθολική Εκκλησία». Συντονιστής: Καθ. Δημήτριος Κεραμιδάς. (Αρχ. Καθ. Ιωάννης Σπιτέρης - Καθ. π. Αυγουστίνος Μπαϊρακτάρης) TUESDAY 05.4.22 Archbishop Prof. Job Getcha: “Common Celebration of Pascha and Eastern-Western Christian Relations”. Coordinator: Dr. Odair Pedrose Mateus. (Metr. Prof. Vassilios Karagiannis - Rev. Prof. Daniel Galadza) TUESDAY 12.4.22 Rev. Prof. Stylianos Muksuris, “‘Will You Remember Me, O Lord?’ Commemoration of Non-Orthodox Names in the Byzantine Rite of Proskomide. Coordinator: Rev. Prof. Daniel Galadza. (Archbishop Lazar Puhalo – Rev. Dr. Pavlos Koumarianos) FRIDAY 15.4.22 Dr. Ally Kateusz«Εικόνες Γυναικών Διακόνων στην Τέχνη σε Ανατολή και Δύση». Συντονίστρια: Δρ. Σπ. Aθανασοπούλου-Kυπρίου (Καθ. Νίκη Παπαγεωργίου - Δρ. Aντωνία Kυριατζή - Δρ. Κατερίνα Δροσιά) FRIDAY 29.4.22 Rev. Dr. John Njoroge Ngige - Rev. Dr. Gregory Edwards: “Common Christian Witness in Africa, Europe and the New World and Orthodox-Catholic Reconciliation”. Coordinator: Emer. Prof. Ivan Dimitrov. (Emer. Prof. Petros Vassiliadis - Prof. Nikolaos Dimitriadis) FRIDAY 01.4.22 Archbishop Prof. Job Getcha: “Common Celebration of Pascha and Eastern-Western Christian Relations”. Coordinator: Dr. Odair Pedrose Mateus (Metr. Prof. Vassilios Karagiannis - Rev. Prof. Daniel Galadza) FRIDAY 08.4.22 Prof. Stylianos Τsompanidis: «Pope Francis Encyclical ‘Evangelii Gaudium’ and the Holy and Great Council». Coordinator: Br. Raphaello Ogliari (Rev. Prof. Αugustinos Bairaktaris – Prof. Νiki Papageorgiou) FRIDAY 13.5.22 Prof. Panagiotis Yfantis: “Catholic Martyrs in Christian East». Συντονιστής: Rev. Prof. Luca Bianchi (Prof. Dimitrios Μoschos– Dr. Theodosios Kyriakidis) FRIDAY 20.5.22 Cardinal Kurt Koch: “The Reconciliation Process of the Catholic Church and the Prospects of Catholic-Orthodox Reunion”. Coordinator: Metr. Prof. Makarios. Tillyrides (Archbishop Prof. Job Getcha – Emer. Prof. Petros Vassiliadis) TUESDAY 24.5.22 Rev. Dr. John Njoroge Ngige: “Dialogue with African religious practices and the Orthodox-Catholic Relations”. Coordinator: Rev. Dr. Gregory Edwards (Metr. Alexander Gianniris – Prof. Nikolaos Dimitriadis) TUESDAY 31.5.22 Rev. Dr. Gregory Edwards: “Similarities and Common Witness in Orthodox and Catholic Mission Theology”. Coordinator: Rev. Dr. John Njoroge Ngige (Prof. Dimitrios Keramidas - Rev. Dr. Ihor Shaban) FRIDAY 10.6.22 Prof. Stavros Yagazoglou: “Viewa of Pneumatology in Eastern and Western Tradition. Yves Congar’s Contribution to the Dialoguefor Church Unity”. Coordinator: Emer. Prof. Kostas Αgoras (Archbishop Ioannis Spiteris - Archbishop. Dimitrios Salachas) TUESDAY 14.6.22 Rev. Emer. Prof. K.M. George: “Eastern-Oriental Orthodox and Catholic/ Greek Catholic Relations”. Coordinator: Emer. Prof. Georgios Μartzelos (Prof. Nicolas Abou Mrad -Rev. Dr. Adalberto Μainardi) FRIDAY 17.6.22 Prof. Vassiliki Stathokosta: «Orthodox-Catholic Relations in Greece and Prospects of Churches Unity». Coordinator: Emer. Prof. Petros Vassiliadis (Archbishop Theodore Κοntidis - Emer. Prof. Georgios Μartzelos
September 13, 2021
UKRAINIAN ORTHODOX RECONCILIATION PROJECT
A new Arab-speaking theological educational program dedicated to Metropolitan Georges Khodr (in Ecumenical Orthodox Theology in Arabic (PEOTA). In 2021, the International Hellenic University and the Center of Ecumenical, Missiological and Environmental Studies has started its Master Program in “Orthodox Ecumenical Theology” (MOET) of highest academic standards. The Program is offered in English, as it is addressed both for Orthodox and non-Orthodox graduate students wishing either to learn more about the Orthodox Theology or to deepen their knowledge through a mission-oriented and biblical and liturgically based theological education. Behind this program, the ambition of the founder is clear: to study the authentic Christian tradition, and at the same time reflect on how this can be implemented in the 21st century, with the view of including the widest possible scholarship as well as audience. Within this same spirit, Prof. Nicolas Abou Mead, a formerly professor of the University of Balamand, proposed an On-line program of theological education, carrying the same ambition, yet, addressed to the Arabic speaking Christians present all over the world. This program, which offers a diploma and certificate of attendance, shall include courses in the different fields of theological education, as well as public lectures and Symposia dealing with actualities relevant to the presence and witness of Arabic speaking Christians today, all mainly held in the Arabic language. The uniqueness of this program, if compared to other On-line theological programs offered by various Arabic speaking theological faculties or institutes, shall lie in its approach. While the existing programs are mainly bound to classical curricula of theological education, the Metropolitan Georges Khodr Educational Program in Ecumenical Orthodox Theology (PEOTA) shall focus on actualizing theological education for the Arab Christians, in a way that would help them bear an active and living witness in a world in which they are facing multiple challenges, such as living in a religiously diverse context not immune to hardships and where vital questions torment the Arabic speaking Christians, including those related to the Minority-Majority dilemma, engaging with non-Christians and being active members of their societies, while holding to the essence of their faith and legacy. These are matters that have pre-occupied the great Antiochian theologian, Metr. Georges Khodr, to whom this program is dedicated, who, in his writings and life, has set a path for an active Christian witness both in the Middle East region as well as in the rest of the world. Hence, I suggest that the program includes the following: 1. Courses in theological education: covering the main field of theology; Bible, Doctrine, History of the Church, Liturgy and Patristics. Yet, the courses shall be offered in such a way as to reveal the intrinsic links between these different fields, which are not separate monolithic blocs, but are profoundly interrelated. This interrelation shall be the main focus in the courses. For example, how liturgy interprets and echoes the biblical teaching? What led the fathers to formulate the faith in doctrinal formulas, how these formulas serve us today, and can they be actualized? How can the history of the Church be viewed from a biblical perspective and how can the historical presence of the Church be viewed against the teaching about the Church as the body of Christ? These and other questions shall be the leading factors in shaping the courses and their Syllabi. 2. Public Lectures: one or two monthly public lectures offered by experts in theology, religious sociology, politics, psychology, art, as well as the different fields of culture, that touch upon main issues relevant to actualizing the Christian theological education and revealing its interconnection with other disciplines and human activities. 3. Symposia: CEMES has had the courage to launch a series of Symposia dealing with crucial matters related to the Church’s life and theology, such as science and theology, ordination of women, interreligious matters, to name just a few. With the same spirit a yearly symposium can be held in Arabic, raising such actual and other similarly important issues. It is to be noted that all these activities shall be held on-line. The COVID-19 pandemic has introduced us more profoundly to what technology can offer us in terms of communication and educational tools. Since the Arabic speaking Christians are present all over the world, the outreach shall be through online means. Exceptionally, physical symposia can be held in some countries, if the topic of the symposium is more relevant to any of these countries than to others. In this case, exceptional arrangements shall be made. Academic Community: a large number of Arabic speaking theologians may be contacted once this proposal is approved. I would suggest to include, besides Orthodox theologians, non-orthodox experts in the field of theology, who can, not only enrich the discussions, but also through their presence and participation, foster the ecumenical character of the program as well as the co-existence as a necessity for the Arabic speaking Christians in their different contexts. Schedule: Courses shall consist of 6 - 8 sessions per semester (fall: Sep. through Dec.; Spring: Feb. through June). Public lectures shall be held once or twice per month throughout the year. Symposia: once every year or every other year. Fees: This shall be agreed upon in agreement with CEMES, in a way that would not add to the financial burdens of people living already in dire financial situations. Participants with better financial means shall compensate for those who do not have these means. Final Remarks CEMES, with its ecumenical and missiological approach, is expected to be the cradle for programs that would carry the same spirit. PEOTA shall be enshrined in the underlying concept that theological education is first and foremost one of the aspects of Christian mission, and that this mission shall reach the ends of the earth.
AN OPEN LETTER TO THE CHURCHES AND THE WORLD (ISSUED BY THE SEMINAR ON COVID-19, ORGANIZED BY CEMES & IHU)
THE FINAL COMMUNIQUE OF THE INTERNATIONAL WEB-SEMINAR ORGANIZED BY CEMES ΑΝD IHU ON “RELIGIOUS COMMUNITIES AND CHURCH IN Α PERIOD OF PANDEMIC” (Biblical, Liturgical, Historical, Theological, Ecclesiological, Ecumenical, Interfaith and Missiological Perspectives)
COVID-19: A MEANINGFUL STORM FOR RENEWAL IN THE ORTHODOX CHURCH Final communiqué of AN INTERNATIONAL WEB-SEMINAR ORGANIZED BY CEMES ON RELIGIOUS COMMUNITIES AND CHURCH IN Α PERIOD OF PANDEMIC (Biblical, Liturgical, Historical, Theological, Ecclesiological, Ecumenical, Interfaith and Missiological Perspectives)
The Center of Ecumenical, Missiological, and Environmental Studies (CEMES) and the inter-Orthodox Master Program of the International Hellenic University (IHU) “Orthodox Ecumenical Theology (MOET) organized a week-long (6-11 April, 2020) Web-Seminar on “Religious Communities and Church in a Period of Pandemic,” a crisis that not only endangered public health, but the necessary precautionary measures taken worldwide have also challenged the core of the Church's identity. CEMES was encouraged in this by courageous statements of illumined hierarchs that “we the clergy – and, we could add, theologians – are responsible for the fact that our faithful people have no idea what the Eucharist really means. The time has come to look at our mistakes and to repent.” It also recalled what half a century ago the late Fr. Alexander Schmemann said about another crisis, when he spoke of a meaningful storm for ecclesiological renewal in the Orthodox diaspora. Therefore, it envisioned that the COVID-19 pandemic becomes a meaningful and blessed storm for an overall renewal in our Orthodox Church and beyond. The seminar brought together scholars from all over the world (15 countries from all five continents: USA, Russia, UK, Canada, France, Italy, Germany, Syria, Ukraine, New Zealand, South Africa, Brazil, Turkey, Georgia, Greece), to reflect on the present COVID-19 Pandemic and the way it affected the Churches. It was conducted by the CEMES teaching staff of MOET, and it was supported by the authorities of IHU that provided the electronic facilities, as an open space to reflect in common on the various aspects of the ecclesiastical life throughout the world by sharing information and scholarly views on the subject. It was attended by over 200 participants, with short statements offered by almost all (17) teaching staff of MOET, renowned scholars from abroad (10) and from other scholarly disciplines (Law, and History), one bishop, 7 academic priests and few younger researchers and Ph.D. and Master holders. All their presentations were discussed and evaluated in the 6th final day by the participants. Beyond the ways that the present pandemic crisis has endangered the public health, the precautionary measures assumed worldwide have also challenged our ecclesiastical life in two distinct, albeit interrelated areas: the enforced enclosure of the faithful, with consequences not only for the constitutional right of religious freedom, but also for the identity of the Church defined by the Eucharistic event as a community coming together “in the same place.” That is why the seminar opened with a Biblical and Liturgical session, particularly focused on the need for translated biblical readings, the biblical background for understanding the theological meaning of the Eucharist, as well as the priesthood of the faithful for a desired liturgical and ecclesiological renewal for a meaningful storm in our Church.
THE DETAILS OF THE SEMINAR
1. The Biblical and Liturgical session dealt with the profound nature and the various Christian practices regarding the Sacrament of the Divine Eucharist, as well as the Eucharistic event in the wake of physical (social) distancing. (coordinated by P. Vassiliadis and N. Denysenko, with presentations by M. Konstantinou, P. Vassiliadis, D. Passakos, P. Meyendorff, P. Andriopoulos and E. Venizelos) 2. The Historical session covered data and implications of major historical pandemics, both in antiquity (during the Peloponnesian War, etc.), and in particular the early church (during the persecutions) and of late Christian antiquity (the plague of Carthage), and especially the great plague in Justinian’s era (in Constantinople, etc.) and the great epidemics of the Middle Ages and modern times (coordinated by N. Kouremenos and G. Demacopoulos, with presentations by G. Dokos, Th. Kyriakidis, D. Stamatopoulos and N. Kosmidis) 3. The Theological and Ecclesiological session concentrated on the theological understanding of the mystery of the Church, the Eucharistic and Baptismal Theology and the experience and practices in a period of pandemic (coordinated by P. Panagiotopoulos and C. Hovorun, with presentations by G. Kochetkov, Z. Dashevskaya, St. Muksuris and P. Koumarianos). 4. The Ecumenical and Interfaith session covered various historical and theological attitudes of other churches and religions, primarily focusing on the journey toward the unity of humanity, the care for God’s creation and the visible unity of the Church (coordinated by J. Chryssavgis and E. Clapsis, assisted by N. Dimitriadis and with presentations by himself, P. Ladouceur, B. Gallaher, S. Boukis. Chr. Stueckenberger and V. Stathokosta). And 5. The Missiological and Pastoral session focused on the authentic meaning of witness rendered by the Christian world over the centuries in times of epidemics or pandemics and other similar crises ( coordinated by D. Keramidas and Chr. Sonea, with presentations by himself, Bishop Lazar, E. Voulgaraki, V. Xidias, M. Sereti and S. Karekla)
The Biblical and Liturgical Session
The first Biblical and Liturgical Session of the seminar started with a very optimistic perspective, and certainly hope, that the current pandemic can become a “meaningful storm” for a liturgical and overall renewal of our Orthodox Church. It was also encouraged by the statement of a hierarch of the Church of Greece that “we the clergy – and of course the theologians too - are responsible that our faithful people have no idea what the Eucharist really means. The time has come to look to our mistakes and repent.” Coordinated by the President in Honor of CEMES, and Director of the Inter-Orthodox Master Program of IHU “Orthodox Ecumenical Theology (MOET), Prof. Emer. Petros Vassiliadis, who was also acting on behalf of the ill Prof. of the University of Valparaiso of USA, and among the perspective teaching staff of MOET, Dn. Nicholas Denysenko, the seminar’s first session started with one of the founding members of CEMES. Prof. Emer. Miltiadis Konstantinou, former Dean of the Theological School of the University of Thessaloniki, concentrated on the need for translated Bible readings in the Orthodox liturgy, especially during this special period of enforced enclosure, but also after the end of it. He presented the liturgical helps published by the Greek Bible Society, in cooperation with the Church of Greece. Second speaker was Prof. Vassiliadis himself. Having realized how serious problems had emerged for the Orthodox self-consciousness after the preliminary measures imposed concerning the core of the identity of the Church, the Holy Eucharistic, he decided to briefly present the scientific findings of biblical scholarship on the biblical Eucharistic data and the profound theological meaning of Eucharist. He concluded that the starting point for determining the deeper meaning of the Eucharist, is the teaching of Jesus about the Kingdom of God, and he underlined the eschatological and covenantal character of the early common Eucharistic meals. As to the authentic understanding of the Christian sacramental theology, he reminded that in the Bible “μυστήριον” is the hidden plan of God for the salvation of the world. The Church, by extension, is considered a “mystery,” as the locus of God’s salvation. And only later the Divine Eucharist was characterized as a “mystery”, the Mystery par excellence. Until the 4th century AD, the term “Mystery” and its derivatives were not connected in any way with what later came to be called Sacraments. Third speaker was Prof. Dimitrios Passakos οf the Higher Ecclesiastical Academy of Athens, also a biblical scholar, who using a sociological analysis of the Pauline epistles provided a theological interpretation of the Eucharist in the Pauline letters. St. Paul by making the proclamation of Lord's death the locus of the eucharistic gathering, he understood the mystery par excellence of the Church as the opposite of "liturgical escapism" from everyday social problems. He did not simply connect the Eucharist with the eschatological event of Jesus' death, but with the proclamation of this death he inextricably connected the Eucharist with eschatology and mission. Next speaker was the Prof. Emer. of Liturgical Theology at St. Vladimir’s Theological Seminary of USA, Paul Meyendorff. Making use of the biblical and the liturgical evidence he made a plea for an urgent rediscovery of the priesthood of all the faithful, not only during the present pandemic, but also in the overall ecclesiastical life. He reminded how important for the Church’s mission is the engagement of the entire “royal priesthood”, not jus the clergy, based on a Baptismal theology that will supplement our Eucharistic ecclesiology. Fifth speaker was the administrator of the semi-official website of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, theologian and musician researcher Panagiotisς Αndriopoulos, who presented his research on the plethora of hymns and prayers composed in and for the present pandemic crisis. The first session ended with a presentation by the former Deputy Prime Minister of Greece and prof. of Constitutional Law at the University of Thessaloniki, Evangelos Venizelos on “Constitutional measures in democratic societies and the Church in a period of pandemic” He stressed that in Greece, as well as in the EU there is neither persecution of the faith, nor loss of religious freedom The church, as expressed by the synodal decisions of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the Church of Greece, the Church of Crete, he said, realized that «the pandemic does not threaten the faith but the faithful». The so-called heroic statements of some who are not afraid of the virus and want to take part in ecclesiastical gatherings of worship, despite the legislative prohibitions on freedom of movement, are deeply irresponsible and selfish. Solidarity and love are at the foundation of society (κοινωνία) but also of communion (κοινωνία).
2. The Historical Session The second session was dedicated to the historical dimension of the pandemic crises and the Church's over time response to the various challenges associated with them. The session was moderated by Nikos Kouremenos, research fellow at the Foundation for Religious Studies (Fscire) in Bologna, and George Decamocopoulos, professor of Orthodox Christian Studies at Fordham University. First speaker was Mr. George Dokos, a theologian and graduate student on Ecclesiastical History at the University of Athens, who referred to the so-called "Justinian's Plague" and its religious and cultural effects. He focused on the critical disposition of several historians and chroniclers of that time to accept the widespread perception that the cause of the pandemic disease was God's wrath for people's sins. At the same time, he presented examples that show the influence of medical terminology on theological treatises and the hymnography of that period. Particular emphasis was also placed on the impact that pandemic diseases exercised in the field of divine worship and popular piety with the spread of the veneration of doctor-saints as well as sacred relics and various types of amulets, the development of miracle collections as a special literary genre, etc. The painful effects of the pandemic, however, he concluded, together with the disappearance of large numbers of population, have weakened the Byzantine Empire and facilitated eventually the spread of Islam. At this point, the co-chair of the session, Professor George Demacopoulos, made a short intervention, referring to the personality of Pope Gregory the Great. This Pope ascended to the papal throne, when his predecessor, Pelagius II, succumbed to the epidemic that plagued Rome during the year 590. One of the first actions taken by the newly elected pontiff was to organize a large procession through the streets of Rome that was completed at the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, dedicated to the Virgin Mary for the protection of the city. It was an innovative move, probably inspired by customs of Constantinople, where Gregory served as pope's legate, as until that time Rome's protection was linked in the local ecclesiastical conscience with St. Peter. Then, Theodosis Kyriakidis, theologian with PhD in Modern History and researcher at the Pontic Studies Center of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, referred to the historical witnesses and the recorded ways of dealing with epidemics in Pontus from the late Middle Ages until the end of the 19th century. Special mention was made regarding the withdrawal of people from urban centers and the role of the historic Monasteries of Pontus in the care and maintenance of people in dire straits. As far as worship services are concerned, the sources do not seem to testify clearly to the practice of suspension, at least regarding the Orthodox Church, in reference also to what happened with the Roman Catholic and Protestant missions operating in the area. Along with the epidemics, however, the veneration of specific saints was also spread, such as that of St. Charalambos as well as sacred relics, and icons in which the plague was personified in the form of a black demon. The next to take the floor was the professor of Balkan and Late Ottoman History at the University of Macedonia, Dimitris Stamatopoulos. Starting with the churches’ closure by Ecumenical Patriarch Dionysios V in 1890 in the context of the questioning of the privileges of the Patriarchate in the Late Ottoman Empire, the speaker referred to the broader issue of the Church's relationship with secularization and consequently with the modern state. The question directly related to the above issue has to do with which of the two institutions, the State or the Church, can guarantee the ontological security of the citizens. Already since early modernity, two different types of secularization have emerged: (a) the model of the Church's complete submission to the State according to Thomas Hobbes, and (b) the model of the Church's exit from the State and its integration into Civil Society according to John Locke. According to the latter view, the State has an obligation to restrict the Church when the latter questions civil rights. The modern state has the right to exercise and determine its health policy and the obligation to ensure the maximum life expectancy of its citizens and consequently the responsibility to stop any activity that endangers their ontological security. Finally, the Secretary General of the CEMES, Nikos Kosmidis, first referred to the pandemic of 1348-1353 and the catastrophic consequences for Europe with particular emphasis on religious phenomena that emerged at that time, such as those of messianism, religious fervor, anticipation of the end of the world, choreomani, etc. A typical example is the groups of wandering flagellants and the impact they exercised in late-medieval society. In the second part of his presentation, Mr. Kosmidis referred to the effects of Modernity and Rationalism on the view of death and in fact of the epidemic during the 19th century, such as the apparent decline of the religious and metaphysical dimension and the acceptance of death as a natural end and mourning as a social obligation. Special mention was made of the phenomenon of posthumous photography, which appeared in the second half of the 19th century, with which people tried to keep the memory of their loved ones imprinted and thus alleviate the pain of loss.
3. The Theological and Ecclesiological Session
Wednesday’s (8.4.20) session was dedicated to the theological and ecclesiological perspectives and questions raised by the current pandemic of COVID-19, but also to the way ecclesiastical thought and practice in general as well as a period of pandemic. The session was coordinated by the President of CEMES, Dr. Petros Panagiotopoulos, Assist. Professor at Theological School of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and Fr. Cyril Hovorun, Assist. Professor at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. All addresses in this session were presented in English. First speaker was Father Georgy Kochetkov, former Rector of the Christian Orthodox Institute “St. Philaret” in Moscow and the spiritual father of the Transfiguration Brotherhood of Russia. He developed the theme “A State of Emergency in the Church of Christ or: A Feast in a Time of Plague?” and referred to the need of expanding ecclesiastical boundaries in a state of emergency, like the present one. “When human lives are at stake, the cost is extremely high, and the canonical boundaries of the church expand,” he said. Both he and Ms. Zoya Dashevskaya, Subdean of the School of Theology at St. Philaret’s Christian Orthodox Institute and PhD candidate in the Department of Church History of the School of History at Moscow State University, pointed to the urgency of reviewing current liturgical practices of our Church. “There have been circumstances when lay men and women, could administer the holy gifts to themselves...It is entirely appropriate to remember the women presbyters and deaconesses of ancient times in this context. Women could also serve in the church in aiding with the celebration of the mysteries.” The next speaker was Fr. Stylianos Muksuris, Professor of Liturgical Theology and Languages and Chair in Department of Liturgy, Byzantine Catholic Seminary, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, who spoke on the theme “Back to the Future or Forward to the Past? Covid-19’s Positive Effects on Liturgical and Spiritual Renewal.” Quoting his Primate, Archbishop Elpidophoros, he suggested supplementing our conventional understanding of holy κοινωνία with a refreshingly new perspective of becoming communion for our suffering brothers and sisters. The need to donate blood, to check up on the elderly, and to provide for the material wellbeing and safety of the infirm, which is the horizontal aspect of the Church’s outreach, complements the vertical communion with God. He also stressed the importance of finding positive aspects in the current situation and activating the whole ecclesiastical body, especially women are tragically marginalized, to deal with needs that arise. The future needs “a more vibrant Church ready to be resurrected and reclaim its rightful place as the divine-human force to effect transformation of hearts and communities,” he said. The third speaker was Fr. Pavlos Koumarianos, Doctor of Theology and Teacher at the City University of Athens, who analyzed the concept of death in the Orthodox tradition, making extensive reference to St. Maximos the Confessor. The last main speaker was expected to be Fr. Ioannis-Panteleimon Manousakis, Associate Professor of Philosophy at the College of the Holy Cross, Massachusetts (USA). He was unable to join the session but sent the text of his presentation, the link of which was distributed to the participants but it was also very briefly summarized in Greek by the President in Honor of CEMES, Emer. Prof. Petros Vassiliadis, pointing out the way in which Fr. P. Manousakis took advantage of narratives and literature from the ancient Greek literature (Oedipus, Thucydides, Plato etc.) and modern philosophers and novelists (A. Camus, Derridas, etc), who dealt with the plague or the semantics of the Eucharist, comparing the accidental coincidence of the imposed Quarantine (referring to 40 days in Italian) to the Christian period of Lent (also of 40 days (Τεσσαρακοστή),and draw conclusions about the current state of emergency and the spiritual way it should be endured. The session ended with a round-up and interesting short intervention by the co-coordinator, Fr. Cyril Hovorun, who referred to the discussion on the Eucharist as it is developed in the time of the coronavirus pandemic by those who believe or don’t believe that the Eucharist kills the virus, calling it an Orthodox epiphenomenon of “Cultural War.” He opined that it is unhelpful to continue with this sort of culture wars, in a time when the virus, regardless of what we believe about it…will continue taking lives on both sides. Until an Ecumenical Council (and here he mentioned the recommendation at the Holy and Great Council for periodical Pan-orthodox such gatherings) decides which side is right, either view is a theologoumenon, a theological opinion, not a dogma.
4. The Ecumenical and Interfaith Session
On the fourth day of the online seminar on “Religious Communities and the Church in a Pandemic Period,” the speakers examined the theme from an ecumenical/ interfaith perspective. First Fr John Chryssavgis, Archdeacon of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, opened his reflection on how the pandemic has affected the way we speak to the world and the way we respond to the world. He identified the global state as a crisis, which is a significant term basically meaning judgement. He observed that the time has arrived to review our priorities and to question ourselves, especially the leaders in all sectors of life (political, religious, etc.) This crisis for Fr John Chryssavgis is an opportunity to move beyond narrow interests, stepping outside of where we feel comfortable. It is a time to start listening to the others, to the experts in every field. He closed his inspirational speech connecting this crisis to the challenge of the ecological crisis. Fr Emmanuel Clapsis from the Theological School of Holy Cross in Boston initially addressed the issue from a contextual and then from an interfaith perspective. He acknowledged that the Covid-19 crisis provides considerable opportunity for humankind to appreciate human solidarity and reassess and correct many of its social, cultural, political and economic practices. However, the virus has uncovered the fragile state of the present world. He also referred to how the World Council of Churches urged people and churches to give the highest priority to doing whatever we can to protect life and underscore the unity and interdependence of humanity. Lastly, he underlined the need for solidarity and care through faith. Dr. Paul Ladouceur Adjunct Professor of the School of Orthodox Theology at Trinity College in the University of Toronto (Canada) reflected on ecumenical and interfaith initiatives in Canada stimulated by the Covid-19 pandemic. He presented five activities addressed to Church and political leaders: a) a Statement by the President of the Canadian Council of Churches; b) a Joint Letter to the Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau c) a Joint Statement from the World Council of Churches and Regional Ecumenical Organizations; d) an interfaith Message to Canadians from Religious Leaders in Canada in Response to the Covid-19 signed by 95 religious leaders entitled “Hope, Gratitude and Solidarity"; and e) a letter to the Prime Minister. He also outlined a project for a joint online ecumenical service, noting the complexity of organizing such an undertaking in a short period of time, such as the different dates for Pascha in the Easter and Western calendars. The next speaker was Dr. Vasiliki Stathokosta, Ass. Prof. for Orthodox Theology and the Ecumenical Movement at the University of Athens, who presented an ecumenical approach to the pandemic. She emphasized that the Church exists as the body of Christ, a reality that St. Paul’s description helps us to understand. Thus, it is absolutely essential for her being the gathering of the believers, namely her members, at a certain place (“epi to auto” = “επί το αυτό”) as well as the celebration of the Holy Eucharist. As long as the faith in the Triune God according to the Scriptures is the common faith of all the historical Churches that participate in the so-called ecumenical movement, Covid-19 seems to bother us equally. It is a threat to our church communities and to our need to worship our Savior. Prof. V. Stathokosta examined the ways historical Churches reacted to the restrictions of religious acts that Governments imposed because of the pandemic COVID-19, and she introduced several new issues and challenges that came out and enrich our ecumenical debate and our ecclesiological agenda. The Rev. Dr. Sotiris Boukis, ordained minister of the Evangelical Church of Greece and a member of the WCC Faith & Order Commission, spoke on the transformation of the church into an online “synaxis” as a result of the closing of the churches. His paper reflected on the ecclesiological, pastoral and ministerial challenges and opportunities emerging with this new reality, focusing on the example of the Evangelical Church of Greece as a case study. He also reflected on the Eucharist, observing that while usually the ecumenical dialogue focuses on the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, now it is called to focus on the real absence of the believers. Finally, he reflected on the implications of the doctrine of the priesthood of all believers, underlining that this pandemic is a unique opportunity to cultivate the idea that every Christian is a representative of Christ in the world. Christoph Stückelberger, founder of Globethics.net in Geneva, underlined the importance of ethics needed in the current corona crisis. He connected the pandemic to a new debt crisis arising in the horizon. Then he talked about the question of solidarity and how the pandemic has helped us rediscover virtues, as well as exercise self-discipline and modesty. He mentioned the conspiracy theories that quickly emerged in the pandemic, making reference to the role of media ethics. He also said that we interpret the pandemic through the glasses of a specific worldview. Finally, he concluded by connecting the health crisis to climate change, saying that the pandemic shows that we have far more financial options than previously imagined. The fourth session ended with an interfaith reflection by the coordinator Dr. Nikos Dimitriadis, treasurer of CEMES and Adjunct Professor of World Religions at the American College of Thessaloniki. His argument was that Christians are called upon to take an active part in this global pandemic by now recognizing others who do not share the same beliefs as partners in dialogue in this mission of God and by selflessly offering the vision of a global society of love, overcoming self-centeredness and other such boundaries related to the self. “Interfaith dialogue,” Dimitriadis observed, “flourishes when it becomes a living reality in everyday life.” He also suggested that we could very easily compare the pandemic to the environmental crisis. His interfaith reflections were presented along with those of his students, most specifically on how the three major monotheistic religions are responding or should respond to the Covid-19.
5. The Missiological and Pastoral Session
The last session of the seminar focused on the missionary and pastoral aspects of the pandemic crisis. The retired bishop of Ottawa (Canada) of the OCA and leader of the Monastery of All-Saints, Vladika Lazar Puhalo, spoke of the need to re-activate the laity, as a "royal priesthood", in all the liturgical and, more generally, pastoral life of the Church. The liturgy, he said, is not a ritual, a “choreography”, but the altar through which all the people of God enter into the paradise. Brandon Gallaher, professor of Systematical and Comparative Theology at the University of Exeter (UK), spoke on “Corona as the Apocalypse of Orthodoxy: Judgement and Hope in the Age of Covid-19.” He argued that COVID-19 has stripped bare established Orthodox institutions, leaders and theologies (e.g. eucharistic ecclesiology). But any apocalypse also involves hope (Rev. 21:4) and he suggested that we use the present crisis as a God-given sign to recreate notions of community, outreach, holiness, sacramentality, empower the holy laity and force the Orthodox to finally come to terms with social issues they have long ignored, mentioning the newly published text "For the life of the world. The social ethos of the Orthodox Church", under the blessings of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, as a testimony of the concern for the social witness of the Church, a witness and evidence of hope, optimism and not of despair. We are called to be creative as Church and allow this moment to transform us. To be an Orthodox Church in the moment of late modernity, to save creation, to speak the words of Christ to the world as it is now “We won’t return to normality, because normality was the problem," he concluded. In other words, about the need for the Orthodoxy Church to be open to the challenges of the world, without an apologetic attitude. Fr. Cristian Sonea, Professor of Missiology at the University of Cluj (Romania), and co-coordinator of this session, said that today a theological reading of history is necessary, along with an encounter with modernity, an assessment of the human body, a general awareness of the planet and an understanding of our mortality, which should be distanced from any form of fundamentalism and ideas about the “persecution” of Christian faith. How do we understand vulnerability today and what will the consequences be for our system of values in the so called post-COVID era? He asked himself. The destroying and saving of our planet depend on us. And he concluded saying, that the main lesson to be learned by the Churches and us is that of humility. Lecturer of Missiology at National University of Athens Dr. Evi Voulgaraki underlined that in the current circumstance of uncertainties due to the pandemic, there are many questions as to the day after; but there is also the certainty of the Resurrection and the true presence of the Resurrected in our eucharistic meal. This leads to the prophetic responsibility of all Christians to preserve life in its full meaning, to plea for both freedom and love in a dystopian environment and to turn our parishes into a true icon of the Body of Christ, where a variety of charismas will flourish and also shine to the people of our broader community, in particular the most vulnerable, implementing thus Liturgy after the Liturgy and linking martyria with diaconia and social responsibility. The theologian Vassilios Xidias noted that the crisis brings us in front of the need for a re-evangelization “outwards” but also “within” the Church. The liturgy is - and should be - a model of “celebration” for modern society, even in conditions of pandemic, he noted. He also offered specific examples how the Orthodox could respond to the present state of physical distancing during the period of the Holy Week and of Pascha, and beyond. Maria Sereti, PhD candidate at the Theology Faculty of the University of Thessaloniki, presented the Joint Statements issued by the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and Pope Francis both for the current crisis (joint prayer on March 25), and for the ecological question, but also for the common witness of the two sister Churches. Finally, Sofia Karekla, PhD candidate in Journalism and collaborator of Orthodoxia.info spoke about the different tendencies within the Greek ecclesiastical and journalistic circles regarding the restrictive measures decided by the Government against the spread of the pandemic, by some received as an invitation of adaptation, by others, instead, viewed as a “confessional” resistance. The last speaker, Dr. Athanasios Papathanasiou, director of the Synaxis journal, and currently lecturing at the Open Hellenic University and the Higher Ecclesiastical Academy of Athens, was unable to personally attend the seminar, but sent his contribution for the final publication of its proceedings. The session and the ensuing discussion were moderated by Dr. Dimitrios Keramidas, member of the Executive Committee of CEMES and lecturer at Angelicum University, who opened the session with a short reflection.
6. Closing and evaluation session
The seminar was evaluated in the 6th and final session (Saturday, April 11) by all the participants, who unanimously expressed gratitude for this unique experience, requested similar events each month and decided to share the content of the seminar with their Churches and to the world at large with a communiqué and an open letter.
INTERNATIONAL SCIENTIFIC SYMPOSIUM DEACONESSES: PAST - PRESENT - FUTURE (31 January -2 February 2020)
THE ECUMENICAL LEGACY FOR ORTHODOX BY METR. PANTELEIMON FROM 1948
MESSAGE TO THE 2019 ASSEMBLY DAY OF ST. PHILARET OF MOSCOW
My warmest greetings to Fr. George, Rector of St. Philaret’s Christian Orthodox Institute, as well as all its faculty and the members of my beloved Transfiguration brotherhood, on the Assembly Day of their patron Saint, St. Philaret, Metropolitan of Moscow. With great joy and scholarly satisfaction, I was informed that this year’s Assembly Day, November 19, 2019, dedicated to this great hierarch of the Russian Church and important saint of our Orthodox Church, will focus on his contribution to the biblical - and to some extend liturgical – renewal of our Church. If during the 19th century the least a responsible pastor and ecclesiastical leader could do was to make the word of God, through the translation of the Bible into Russian, available to his faithful into a language they can understand, nowadays, in the 21st century, the progress of the biblical scholarship is the least we can do to follow his legacy. There are two elements that constitute the most urgent desiderata for the renewal of our contemporary Orthodox ecclesiastical life. And these two constitutive elements are what in fact substantially distinguish the essence and character of the Church from a legalistic secular institution (a result mostly of western scholasticism) and redefine her as a charismatic mystery, a "body of Christ", "people of God" and "communion of the Holy Spirit". These elements are: (a) the rediscovery of the word of God, of the gospel of Christ, recorded in the Bible, the matrix of Orthodox theology and life, scientifically of course validated and authentically interpreted; and (b) the rediscovery of the real and authentic meaning of the "Eucharistic event." These elements are known in the scientific field as "biblical" and "liturgical" renewal respectively. The keynote address by Gleb Yastrebov "On the Development Paths of Contemporary New Testament Studies," touches one of the cornerstones of our Church’s missional responsibility, the biblical renewal. And SFI’s achievements , most notably in the series of ecclesiological conferences, which will be presented by the Vice-Rector for Academic Affairs, our colleague Larisa Musina, touches the other cornerstone, the liturgical renewal. Especially at a period in which your official Church has just rejected the idea of the minimum of an Orthodox liturgical renewal, the translation of the liturgy, even as an assisting measure that would certainly help the faithful comprehend the riches of our liturgical tradition. Being one of the translators of the Bible into modern Greek, undergoing similar ordeal and reactions like St. Philaret, and instrumental in the setting up of the Synodical Commission on Liturgical Renewal of the Church of Greece, I feel more than privileged to be kindly requested to serve as a member of SFI Board of Trustees. On behalf of my colleagues at the Center of Ecumenical, Missiological and Environmental Studies (CEMES), dedicated to another holy and pioneer hierarch, Metropolitan of Thessaloniki Panteleimon Papageorgiou, of blessed memory, and as the Director of the Inter-Orthodox Post-graduate Master Program on “Orthodox Ecumenical Theology” (MOET), which will eventually start this coming Spring Semester, also in a distance-learning form, I wholeheartedly send my greetings to the organizers and all the participants of this year’s Assembly Day of SFI.
Emeritus Professor Petros Vassiliadis President in Honour of CEMES Director of MOET of IHU, and Member of SFI Board of Trustees
“If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, pray, seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land” - 2 Chron. 7:14. “If anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation” - 2 Cor. 5:17-18 Preamble From 16 to 19 June 2019, 52 participants from 22 countries and from different confessional and faith traditions gathered in Wuppertal, Germany for a conference entitled "Together towards eco-theologies, ethics of sustainability and eco-friendly churches”.[I] In Wuppertal we were reminded of the courageous confession of faith articulated in the Barmen Declaration (1934) against the totalitarian, inhuman and racist ideology of the time. Barmen continues to encourage us today for "a joyful liberation from the godless ties of this world for free grateful service to his creatures” (Barmen 2). We shared stories from Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, North America, and Oceania. We heard the cries of the earth, the cries of people vulnerable to the effects of climate change, especially children and the elderly, the cries of youth demanding intergenerational justice and the concerns of experts over current trends. We recognize the urgency of the years that lie ahead, nevertheless express the courage to hope and are compelled to call the global ecumenical movement towards a comprehensive ecological transformation of society. Kairos: A decisive turn in the pilgrimage of justice and peace The ecumenical movement has long committed itself to a pilgrimage towards justice, peace and the integrity of creation. These goals will require urgent steps on the road ahead. The urgency of the crisis calls us to read the signs of the time, to hear God’s call, to follow the way of Christ, to discern the movement of the Spirit and, in response, to recognize the positive initiatives of churches all around the world. The symptoms of the crisis touch on all the building blocks of life and are there for all to see:
Fresh water is contaminated; glaciers are melting; oceans are polluted with plastics and are becoming acidic so that corals reefs are bleached (water).
Land is degraded through unsustainable agriculture and unhealthy eating habits, extractive economies ruled by global financial powers, deforestation, desertification and soil erosion; animals are groaning and creatures are being genetically modified; fish populations are depleted; habitat loss leads to the unprecedented loss of biodiversity (earth). Both the land and the health of people are being poisoned by industrial, agricultural, municipal and nuclear forms of waste and by pesticides and chemicals. An increasing number of people is forced to migrate and to become climate refugees.
Global carbon emissions are still increasing, greenhouse gases are accumulating in the atmosphere and climates are disrupted (air).
It is the still increasing use of energy from fossil fuels that is driving such changes (fire).
The delicate systems of balances in creation has been disturbed to an unprecedented extent in the Anthropocene. We have transgressed planetary boundaries. The earth seems no longer able to heal itself. Creatures are groaning in travail (Rom. 8:22). We have been unable to hold together ecumenical concerns over justice amid poverty, unemployment and inequality, over a participatory society amid various forms of violent conflict and over sustainability amid ecological destruction. Although humans have not contributed equally to the root causes of this crisis, as Christians we come together to confess our complicity and bondage to sin: • We have been arrogant in assuming that the whole earth centres around us humans and our needs (pride). • We have become trapped in an abysmal desire for unlimited material growth, driven by a pervasive culture of consumerism (greed). • We have exploited God’s gifts, resorted to violence against God’s creatures and violated human dignity (violence). • We have become alienated from ancestral land and indigenous wisdom, from animals as our co-creatures and from Earth as our God-given home (the privation of the good).
We have been overcome by folly, injustice, denial and greed (vice).
• We have been slow in coming to terms with our responsibility to address the defining crisis of our age (sloth). To make matters worse, the authenticity of ecumenical witness is being undermined by a range of distortions of the gospel, toxic narratives and theologies that legitimize a totalitarian logic of death and destruction. These include theologies of dominion in the name of differences of race, gender, class and species, the theological legitimation of patriarchal domination; dualist and reductionist ways of relating heaven and earth, soul and body, spirit and matter; the denial and ridicule of scientific expertise and insights in order to maintain the current order, the prolonging of myths of unlimited progress, putting trust only in technological solutions to ecological problems instead of realizing their cultural, moral and spiritual nature; the pseudo-gospel of emphasizing the accumulation of wealth and prosperity, self-serving ways of always blaming problems on others; and escapist ways of addressing the victims of ecological injustice. Hope: Courage in an age of anxiety and despair Amidst the unprecedented despair associated with an overwhelming ecological crisis, we proclaim a hope in the Triune God in the midst of a groaning creation, "for in this hope we were saved” (Rom. 8:24). God has not abandoned the earth. We hold onto God’s promises symbolized in the covenant that is made "with every living creature, for all future generations” (Gen. 9:12). We believe in God’s presence as revealed in Jesus the Christ amidst the mess around us. We are comforted by the power of the Spirit to "renew the face of the earth” (Ps. 104:30). In the face of economic and political narratives that distort our understanding of proper relationships between humans, creation and Creator, such hope may seem counter-intuitive. The hope that we proclaim not only critiques oppressive and patriarchal systems of dominion but inspires us to participate in the healing of creation (2 Chron. 7:14). Hope is not the same as blind optimism that trusts in the mere extension of current trends. Such hope is not cheap; it is costly. It springs forth despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary because it rests in the Triune God. It is such hope that encourages us and compels us towards a comprehensive ecological transformation of society. A call to the global ecumenical movement At the heart of the required transformation is a need for ecological conversion (metanoia), a change of heart, mind, attitudes, daily habits and forms of praxis (Rom. 12:1-2). This has implications for all aspects of Christian life: for liturgy and worship, reading the Bible, proclamation, the sacraments, congregational fellowship and practices, prayer, fasting, spirituality, doctrine, ethos, education, art, music, ministries and missions. This ecological reformation of all of Christianity has been encouraged by our fathers and mothers in the Christian tradition, by the examples of our sisters and brothers around the world and by ecumenical leaders such as Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, Pope Francis, Archbishop emeritus Desmond Tutu and many other voices. We call upon the global ecumenical movement, Christian world communions and all other churches to plan for a decade of ecological learning, confessing and comprehensive action to re-orient the priorities of churches to the following commitments:
To renew the full range of liturgical and spiritual practices and ancient church traditions on creation in the light of the current kairos;
To reread the biblical texts and study them with ecological sensitivities;
To create frameworks for nurturing eco-congregations, providing them with the necessary staff and financial resources and supporting existing grassroots initiatives;
To promote gender justice in church and society given its multiple connections with ecological concerns;
To encourage youth to exercise leadership in church and society for the sake of a future that is theirs;
To mainstream eco-theological reflection across all levels of education;
To cultivate ecological virtues and nurture sustainable lifestyles in households and communities;
To equip the laity for their vocations in order to exercise ecological responsibility wherever they live, work and worship.
To engage in multi-disciplinary dialogue that can hold together and do justice to insights from the sciences, indigenous wisdom traditions and diverse theologies;
To advocate inter-disciplinary alliances, networks and partnerships with all levels of government, with business and industry, with civil society, with multifaith ecological networks, with other living faiths, and with all people who share a commitment to find sustainable alternatives to dominant forms of production and consumption.
In view of the forthcoming 11th assembly of the World Council of Churches in 2021 we recommend to the WCC, in particular, that it declares a "Decade for the Healing of Creation” with the following goals:
To mobilize member churches to re-orient their priorities to the commitments as indicated in the Wuppertal Call;
To engage with the UN’s agenda of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through various alliances, networks and partnerships and to go beyond the SDG-agenda in order to redefine notions of growth, wealth and well-being which are not sufficiently clarified yet with regard to the existing planetary boundaries.
To advocate to global decision makers that the increase in global greenhouse emissions should be halted and drastically reduced as soon as possible in order to reach net-zero carbon emissions and to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius.
To promote UN processes to create a legal framework for a binding "Universal Charter of the Rights of Mother Earth” (Cochabamba 2010), an Earth international jurisprudence system, and explore the possibilities of a UN Council for the Rights of Nature and to explore recognition of ecocide as a criminal offence in the International Court of Justice.
These commitments follow from an understanding of the Kairos moment in history in which we find ourselves. The task ahead is immense and will require decades of dedication. The urgency of the situation implies that a comprehensive response cannot be delayed. The next decade will be decisive to allow the Earth a time of rest. The biblical motifs of Sabbath and Jubilee provide a unique source of hope and inspiration, an interruption in the cycle of exploitation and violence, expressed in the vision that there shall be "a year of complete rest for the land” (Lev. 25:5). Come Holy Spirit, renew your whole creation! 24.6.2019
ΝΟΤΕ [I] The conference was planned and organized together by Protestant Association of Churches and Mission (EMW), Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD), United Evangelical Mission (UEM), Bread for the World, World Council of Churches
THE FINAL COMMUNIQUE OF THE CEMES GREEK-GEORGIAN SYMPOSIUM "ORTHODOX THEOLOGY AND WITNESS"
The Center of Ecumenical, Missiological and Environmental Studies "Metropolitan Panteleimon Papageorgiou"(CEMES), between May 22-28, organized a theological symposium on “Orthodox Theology and Witness” with Georgian theologians. The symposium consisted of 3 parts: 1. A pilgrimage of the Georgian participants to Mount Athos, between 22-25 May: By the invitation of the Holy Kinotita, the Georgian participants have visited several monasteries on Mount Athos. The participants were given an opportunity to meet the abbot of the Holy Monastery of Esphigmenou, Archimandrite Bartholomew. A long conversation was held between the abbot, the brotherhood of the monastery and participants about the spiritual – ascetical and daily life of the monastery. After the meeting, the pilgrimage continued with a visit to the Holy Monastery of Koutloumousi. The next day the participants had the privilege to visit the Holy Monastery of Iviron. At this monastery, the participants had the opportunity to see the museum and the holy relics of the monastery. In addition, as a sign of respect, the abbot gave his blessing for the participants to have a Divine Liturgy in Georgian, with the icon of Theotokos being located in the Church. After the Iviron monastery, the participants continued their journey to Vatopedi Monastery. The Pilgrimage Group Consisted: Hieromonk Irineos Shengelia, Hieromonk Ieronymos Katamadze, Hierodeacon Irakli Jinjolava, Deacon George Gibradze, Shota Kintsurashvili, Nikoloz Gurgenidze, Giorgi Geguchadze, and Grigol Tchezhia.
2. Meeting of Georgian Theologians and students of theology living abroad, between 25 – 26 May: After returning from Mount Athos to Thessaloniki more participants joined the Symposium. The Protosingelos of the Thessaloniki diocese fr. Iakovos gave a reception to the Georgian theologians and had a meeting with the participants. With the blessing of the Metropolitan of Thessaloniki, His All Holiness Anthimos, the Georgian participants had a Divine Liturgy in Georgian and Greek. The Liturgy was held at the Church of Dormition at the old parish of 40 Ekklisies. After the Liturgy, the memorial service was held for those who have sacrificed their lives for the independence of Georgia. After liturgy and dinner, a dialogue was held between the Georgian theologians and students, at the monastery of St. Theodora, in Thessaloniki. During this dialogue, the participants spoke about the contemporary issues such as euthanasia, bioethics, the role of theology in secular social life, catechism, liturgy and theological educational missionary role for a better future of our Orthodox Church. Participants in the discussion were: 1. Hierodeacon Irakli Jinjolava (chairman) – University of Munich; 2. George Geguchadze (secretary) – University of Eichstätt; 3. Nino Sadzaglishvili (secretary) – University of Athens; 4. Sopho Gozalishvili – University of Vienna; 5. Hieromonk Leonide Ebralidze – Pontifical Oriental Institute of Rome; 6. Hieromonk Irineos Shengelia – University of Thessaloniki; 7. Heromonk Ieronymos Katamadze – University of Thessaloniki; 8. Deacon George Gibradze – University of Cambridge, IOCS; 9. Guram Chukhrukidze – University of Thessaloniki; 10. Grigol Tchezhia – University of Eichstätt; 11. Nikoloz Gurgenidze – University Ecclesiastical Academy of Thessaloniki; 12. Guram Lursmanashvili – University of Athens; 13. Vano Shoshiashvili – University of Athens; 14. Shota Kintsurashvili – University of Munich. The Georgian group also received letters from those who couldn’t attend the symposium: Subdeacon Giorgi (Givi) Lomidze, Erekle Turkadze, and Alexi Mestumrishvili.
3. The Symposium proper on 27th May: The academic part of the symposium was held at Amphitheatre "Metropolitan Panteleimon Papageorgiou" of the St. Theodora Monastery, in Thessaloniki. The program was made up of 3 parts: Part One: • Introduction and Welcoming Address by the CEMES President, Prof. Emer. Nikolaos Zacharopoulos; • Introduction of the Greek-Georgian Orthodox Conference by Prof. Emer. Petros Vassiliadis, President of Honour of CEMES; • Introduction to the activities of CEMES by Dr. Nikolaos Dimitriadis, Prof. of IHU and ACT; • The History of the Church of Georgia at its origin by Rev. Dn. George Gibradze ⦿ Visit to the CEMES Museum. Part Two: • The Holy and Great Council and the Ukrainian Autocephaly as covered and scientifically analyzed by CEMES by Prof. Emer. Petros Vassiliadis, President of Honour of CEMES; • Orthodox Theology and the Orthodox Church of Georgia by Very Rev. Hieromonk Leonide Ebralidze; • The Beginnings of Monasticism in Georgia by Rev. Dn. Irakli Jinjolava ⦿ The participants of the Symposium were received by the Metropolitan of Thessaloniki, His All Holiness Anthimos. Part Three: • The Orthodox Church and the Role of Women by Dr. Eleni Kasselouri, Prof. of IHU and OHU; • The Ordination of Deaconesses in the Orthodox Church by Prof. Panagiotis Skaltsis, President of the Theological Department of AUTH; • Orthodoxy and Science by Prof. Petros Panagiotopoulos, Vice-President of CEMES; - The Orthodox Church and Social Issues by Prof. Christos Tsironis, of the Theological Department of AUTH and CEMES • Conclusion and thanksgiving by Rev. Dn. Irakli Jinjolava. At the end of the conference, on behalf of the Georgian participants, Hierodeacon Irakli Jinjolava expressed his gratitude to the Greek side and as a sign of his gratitude presented a gift to them, a Georgian wine. On behalf of the Greek side, Prof. Petros Vassiliadis has presented a gift, of the Abbott of St. Theodora Monastery and member of CEMES, Fr. Barnabas Yagou, for the Catholicos-Patriarch Ilia II of Georgia, which is to be used on Holy Thursday for the washing of feet. The Theological symposium contained academic and informal discussions. According to the participants “the symposium was of a high level of importance”. Especially to the Georgians, it was very fruitful to have similar symposiums in the future. The participants from both sides have agreed to publish the materials of the symposium and to continue working together.
CENTER OF ECUMENICAL, MISSIOLOGICAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL STUDIES“METROPOLITAN PANTELEIMON PAPAGEORGIOU” FINAL REPORT A critical theological analysis of the Ukrainian situation, and some thoughts to retain Orthodox unity The CEMES foundation (Center of Ecumenical, Missiological and Environmental Studies “Metropolitan Panteleimon Papageorgiou”) considers as its ultimate duty to humbly submit the results of its scholarly project, which examined the current Ukrainian crisis from a theological, historical and canonical perspective, providing at the end what measures at this specific moment seem feasible and necessary for the Orthodox unity, so vulnerable in the new era of the Orthodox tradition that started with the Holy and Great Council, affected by the last-minute decision of the Russian Church, together with Patriarchates of Antioch, Georgia and Bulgaria, and more recently by the decision of the Holy Synod of the Moscow Patriarchate (MP) to break Eucharistic communion with the Ecumenical Patriarchate (EP), taking into consideration that this last canonical action is going to have tremendous consequences in the Orthodox diaspora, where the great majority of Orthodox from all jurisdictions have succeeded in establishing cooperation in the spirit of unity and common Orthodox witness. This CEMES scholarly project, launched at mid-August 2018, was undertaken by its academic members, as well as the teaching staff of the inter-Orthodox post-graduate program from all Orthodox jurisdictions on “Orthodox Ecumenical Theology” it runs at the English-speaking International Hellenic University (IHU). As academic theologians the members of this project were involved in the theological debate on the issue of the granting of autocephaly in a single and united Orthodox Church in Ukraine, which they decided to study in relation to the triptych: Primacy-Conciliarity-Autocephaly. Its final report was approved by the CEMES General Assembly of April 6, 2019. After the catalytic evidence on the issue officially produced by the EP at the end of September (OMIΛOYN TA KEIMENA (https://www.ecpatr.org/ deltiotypou/…/final%20oukraniko-1.pdf) the CEMES committee eagerly expected the official counter arguments from the MP. At the beginning the MP followed a rather communication strategy, repeated in almost all speeches of His Holiness Patriarch Cyril the conspiracy theory, namely that the entire process was politically motivated and that it is all about evil forces wanting to destroy the Russian Church etc. Only anonymous comments and semi-official responses were published, the most serious being (mid-October) the one by prof. Mickail Zheltov, member of a MP synodical committee, with an older treatise, which naturally did not respond to the most recent arguments of the EP, The main document on which this painful division in a large country, populated mainly by Orthodox, could be resolved was the 1686 Patriarchal act, by which only the right to ordain the Metropolitan of Kyiv was granted to the Patriarch of Moscow, because of the difficult situation at that time, on the clearly expressed condition to follow the decision of the Kyivan clergy-laity assembly, and most importantly to commemorate the EP, something that evidently proves that the Kyivan Metropolia still remained under his omophorion. Instead, the EP argument went on, the MP uncanonically annexed to its jurisdiction the Kyivan Metropolia and the entire Ukrainian Lands. Quite late (end of October) there was an attempt by the MP to officially respond https://mospat.ru/gr/2018/10/23/news167003/) to the arguments produced by the EP, and at the end of November the site of the MP DERC posted (https://mospat.ru/gr/2018/11/28/news167329/) a Greek translation of prof. Zheltov's treatise. Being a renowned liturgist, prof. Zheltov skipped the condition (see note 130) of the commemoration by the Kyivan Metropolitan of the Ecumenical Patriarch, a clear evidence to which jurisdiction the Kyivan Metropolitan belonged, interpreting this condition as “no more than simple good wishes”). Both the official MP response to the EP arguments and Prof. Zheltov’s long article rightly insisted on the unity of the Kyivan and Moschovite Rus. However, this is a past history by no means relevant to the present situation, where the vast majority of the Ukrainians consider now the Russians as aggressors of their country and the head of the MP as persona non grata. But even these later arguments were carefully refuted by the EP, first by an equally extensive treatise by Emer. Prof. Vlasios Feidas, posted on 29.11.18 (panorthodoxcemes.blogspot.com/2018/11/1686_29.html…) and by Bishop Makarios of Christoupolis, speaking as Patriarchal representative at the European Union few days later (panorthodoxcemes.blogspot.com/…/12/blog-post_7.html…), as well as by the EP advisor, Prof. Dn John Chryssavgis, in a short but very convincing video presentation (panorthodoxcemes.blogspot. com/…/the-current-situati…). One cannot blame for the present regretful situation either the EP, which is canonically obliged to defend its ecumenically set rights, or even the MP, which is also trying to defend its canonical jurisdiction using whatever arguments it considers appropriate. The blame – with regard both to the Orthodox unity and, more importantly, to the Rus Kyiv-Moscow unity, on which the MP puts the emphasis – is exclusively to be placed on the Ukrainian Orthodox Church under the Moscow Patriarchate (UOC MP), especially her leadership, which was slavishly following in all its decisions the Russian Church, both in refusing to meet the Constantinopolitan Exarchs, to whom they could request whatever conditions they wished and even condemn the EP decision, and also in repeating the MP arguments in its last synod at the Lavra of the Caves – instead of the meeting with the President of Ukraine as it was agreed, a synod considered by some as an ecclesiastical coup both in view of its sudden invitation and because of its decision to deny the right of a free conscious decision to its hierarchs, and we would add, of not considering the earlier October letter of the EP to her Primate, Metr. Onufrius (panorthodoxcemes. blogspot.com/2018/12/blog-post_49.html). In the committee’s view, by refusing to participate in its entirety in the unification process, the UOC MP lost a unique opportunity to secure to a large extent both their legitimate control of the autocephalous-in-the-process Orthodox Church in Ukraine, and – what is even more important – they would determine and retain the actual unity between Ukrainian and Russian Orthodoxy. The only blame on the MP was its decision to use the Divine Eucharist, the ultimate Orthodox characteristic of self-identity, for an administrative dispute creating, as it was noted, numerous problems in our effort to secure the Orthodox unity, especially in the Orthodox diaspora. But such spontaneous actions are numerous in our long history – in both the first and the second millennium – and in the course of time they were solved. The MP has used this measure also in the Estonian territorial dispute; but it lifted it after few years. This we also pray to happen again. Otherwise, and in view of the possibility of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church joining the new Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU), after taking of course the necessary canonical steps, many devoted Orthodox would possibly prefer the unity with the Roman Catholic Church, especially with the Present Pope, rather than with the Russian Church, especially with her current Russkii Mir theory, which in very many respects is contrary to the more holistic mission document of the Holy and Great Council, under the title “The Mission of the Orthodox Church in Today’s World,” a document for which the Russian Orthodox Church, after all, has officially the most reservations. In all similar cases in the past and the previous century canonical irregularities, resulting in schismatic situations – most notably in the Greek autocephalous Church – the Ecumenical Patriarchate intervened, following the Canons of the Ecumenical Councils, and healed the schisms bringing back millions of Orthodox to the canonical Orthodox Church by granting them autocephaly. This is what happened to all newer Patriarchates and Autocephalous Orthodox Churches. The committee has not dealt with the question of solving at a panorthododox level the issue of the Ukrainian autocephaly, because at that level – according to the Orthodox tradition – autocephaly is not granted but reaffirmed, and after all the reaffirmation of autocephaly is pending to all newer Patriarchates and Autocephalous Churches, with the exception of the Church of Cyprus. Several other arguments have been unofficially presented against the decision of the EP to proceed to the Ukrainian autocephaly: “Why now?” But the real objection should be “why so late?” For three centuries the MP exercised authority over Ukraine, and none questioned this status, even if it was uncanonical. Of course, canonically – and legally in general – speaking, an irregularity does not change the canonical tradition. To be honest, the EP, despite being questioned in numerous occasions by the Russian Church as the “Protos” in the Orthodox Church, according to her canonical tradition – even though this created obstacles to the ecumenical dialogue, especially with the Catholics – he preferred not to halt the century-long prepared process toward the long-anticipated Pan-Orthodox Council. Another argument was that the schismatics and anathematized – measures that were imposed in a legalistic and semi-nationalistic way, and not in the philanthropic spirit of the oikonomia that almost all canonical decisions request– did not repent. The inability of the UOC MP to solve the problem, and thus retain Orthodox unity in the country, has inevitably forced the EP to act as it did: by revoking the 1686 act in its entirety, because its conditions un-canonically have never been met (we must admit that the MP has lately produced evidence to the contrary, but only to the participation of the laity in elections), by receiving the “ekkliton” appeal of the anathematized and schismatics, thus restoring Orthodox unity in Ukraine, by restoring its Stavropegia in Kyiv, and by returning again the Kyivan Metropolia under their omophorion. Others have argued that the Holy Canons, as canonical rules set in an old time, cannot solve current more complex situations with political and geopolitical consequences. Those who follow this MP logic may not go as far as abandoning the ages-old canonical tradition that was established by the canons of the Ecumenical Councils, but in the back of their mind they propose a model of church unity without a Protos, without a primacy of honour and service (and with certain prerogatives). In practice, all Orthodox with no exception – and with no theological counter argument – follow a primacy at all levels of Church life (parish, diocese, autocephalous church), except at the universal one. The committee did not insist that we must slavishly follow the holy canons with no contextualization of their content. They argued that we do need to keep our canonical tradition faithfully, but always dynamically interpreted. Otherwise there is a danger to fall into a protestant-style confederation of independent Orthodox Churches, a situation almost inevitable with the alternative proposal. If that happens, we can no longer speak of the “one, holy, catholic and apostolic church” we confess in our Church, but of something alien to Christian and authentic Orthodox ecclesiology. Unfortunately, for many centuries after the Great Schism the Orthodox have unconsciously developed a “negative” identity: we are not what our tradition has left us as legacy, but what the others, mainly the Catholics, are not. In other words, without a primacy, a visible expression of the Church’s unity, accompanied of course by synodality. What is, finally, the most promising outcome of this crisis – the Committee’s report continue, now that the process toward the Ukrainian autocephaly reached its final stage – is that the EP is reviving an ancient ecclesiological ethos; the participation of the entire people of God (clergy and laity) in our Church’s decision-making process, which in our present day autocephalous Orthodox Churches is either forgotten or at best marginalized. In other words, the authentic version of synodality was brought back, hopefully to be followed not only at the top, but at all levels of Church life: parish, diocese, regional/national, universal. In his letter of invitation, the EP underlined the ancient conciliar process, and in the Ukrainian case in question, the pre-1686 tradition: “Bishops, priests, those who lead monastic life and laypeople will take part in the Unification Council on December 15 in Kyiv. All of them, the letter went on, will have the right to vote”. It is hoped, this will alert other Orthodox Churches in, which has quite recently experienced a similar crisis, in the face of which she refused, like the Greek and the Russian, among others, to allow themselves to break the chains of enslavement to their respective secular states. Recently a further issue arose, that of the validity of the ordination of those in an un-canonical status (schismatics, anathematized etc), and especially of the elected as Primate of the OCU, the Metropolitan of Kiev Epiphanios. The Committee, after thoroughly studying both the reasonable concerns about the scandalized believers, as well as the arguments presented by renowned scholars in Canon Law, and Orthodox Primates, the Ecumenical Patriarch included, but especially the long history of the Ecumenical and other local Synods of the Orthodox Church up until the 20th century, concluded that the readmittance to the canonical status of the Orthodox Church clerics, including the hierarchs, are not re-ordained, and their believers are not re-baptized. The best documented of such appeals of appeasement of the perceived scandal of the faithful, the recent letter of the Church of Albania, rightly focuses on the persistent obsession and behavior of the former head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church - Kiev Patriarchate (UOC-KP). The Ecumenical Patriarchate, however, despite its background efforts, was unable to enforce without being accused as illegally interfering in the canonical process of a full-scale autocephaly. Regarding the future of Orthodoxy in Ukraine, as well as the unity of Orthodoxy as a whole, the Committee considers that all efforts should now focus on the gradual restoration of the unity of the Orthodox in Ukraine. Taking in to account that the MP seems to have settled with a double-jurisdiction in Ukraine, (i.e. the inevitable existence of UOC-MP and OCU), the only feasible and realistic proposal as an interim solution, though not the only one, would be to follow is the model of the famous “Patriarchal Act of 1928”, still functioning in the Church of Greece. Although a double-jurisdiction is quite un-canonical and has been scientifically criticized in the case of Estonia, and in the Orthodox Diaspora is in the process of being overcome, it is the only possible solution to reduce the accumulated enmity and continuous confrontation for more than 20 years. The co-decision for the creation of a Permanent Holy Synod as a supreme executive ecclesiastical body, consisting of 6 hierarchs from UOC-MP and 6 from the OCU, according to the model that has been in operation for about a century in the Church of Greece. The President of CEMES Emeritus Professor Petros Vassiliadis
THE CONTRIBUTION OF BROTHERHOODS IN THE ORTHODOX CHURCH (with the participation of CEMES)
The theme of the conference is “Orthodox Brotherhoods in the History of Russia: The Phenomenon of Unity in a Scattered World” “The last year gives many reasons for thinking about unity in the Orthodox world. And it is important for us that the experience of informal unity, which was revealed in the church brotherhoods, should not be forgotten,” said Oleg Glagolev, chairman of the St. Elizabeth small Orthodox fraternity, welcoming the participants of the conference, which opened on February 7 in the Yekaterinburg pilgrimage center. The blessing of the Metropolitan of Yekaterinburg and Verkhoturye Kirill to the participants was handed over by the head of the Missionary Department of the Yekaterinburg Diocese, Priest Daniel Ryabinin. “I am very pleased that the topics on the history of the Orthodox brotherhoods turned out to be in demand and, moreover, fruitful,” said the rector of the St. Philaret Orthodox Christian Christian Institute, priest George Kochetkov “After all, for our church now the most important question is how to arrange our inner life.” The special theme of the conference is the history of the Orthodox brotherhoods and spiritual unions during the Civil War. The conference organizers are obliged to this by the venue of the conference, connected with the tragic memory of the last days of the royal family, shot by the Bolsheviks. The report of the rector of SFI, who opened the plenary session, was devoted to the brotherhoods as a spiritual phenomenon of the post-Constantine era of church history. Father George noted that “although the church itself rarely felt the transitions between these epochs, because it required a lot of effort, creative self-knowledge and even prophetic revelation about itself,” over the course of historical time we all understand more acutely the difference between post-Constantine periods of church history. Thus, the emergence of monasticism with its new ascetic ideal and the practice of individual salvation, ecumenical councils, the system of canon law, rigidly formulated dogmatic teaching, the system of liturgical sacraments, the new system of church management and organization of life, and most importantly - the new attitude to the hierarchy and the so-called laity, and then to the state and the world - signs of the onset of the Constantine era. “All these characteristics began to change radically again when this period of church history began to end, starting with the non-Christian French revolution in the West and the anti-Christian October revolution in Russia,” Father George noted. “Spiritually sensitive, first of all, the Russian people felt this keenly, calling the new era post-Constantine.” Based on this historiosophical distinction, the Rector of the SFI shared his thoughts on what challenges the current era poses to churches and Orthodox brotherhoods and what should be rethought in connection with the new relationships of people with themselves, with God and their neighbors.
Before and after 1917, including the question of their relationship to power, the pro-rector of the St. Petersburg Theological Academy on scientific and theological work, Archpriest Konstantin Kostromin, will continue the theme of the differences between church brotherhoods on the last day of the conference. At the first plenary meeting, the reports of the well-known historian Kirill Aleksandrov “The Anti-Christian Meaning of Bolshevism and the Christian Significance of the White Movement”, the senior teacher of the Omsk Theological Seminary of Archpriest Dmitry Olikhov “The activities of the Brotherhood of St. Hermogenes in Siberia in 1919 as an example of spiritual opposition of the“ white ”and“ red "During the Civil War" and associate professor of the Don State Technical University Yulia Biryukova (Rostov-on-Don) "Activity of the Brotherhood of the Life-giving Cross and also Archpriest Vladimir Vostokov in the South of Russia during the Civil War (1919)”.
Distinguished Professor of Thessaloniki University, President of the Center for Ecumenical, Missiological and Environmental Studies (CEMES) Petros Vasiliadis (The Greek Orthodox Church) will talk about the movements of church renewal in the light of Orthodox ecclesiology on the example of Greek brotherhoods. The First Vice-Rector of the SFI Dmitry Gasak will present a report on the principles of presbyterian service in the Russian church tradition of the 20th century. Archpriest Peter Mangilyev, Vice-Rector of the Yekaterinburg Theological Seminary, will talk about the communal tradition in the Old Believers.
The main directions of fraternal services of the church and the world, the emergence of sober brotherhoods, fraternities and sisterhoods in the monastic tradition will be discussed. Its chairman Hamlet Zakaryan (Yerevan) will speak about the history and modern experience of the Brotherhood of the Armenian Apostolic Church. The conference was attended by historians, cultural scientists, sociologists, philosophers and theologians, in whose field of research interest is the phenomenon of Orthodox communities, fraternities, associations and unions. The III All-Russian Scientific Conference with international participation “Orthodox brotherhoods in the history of Russia: the phenomenon of unity in a scattered world” lasted three days. Its organizers are the St. Philaret Orthodox Christian Institute, the Transfiguration Commonwealth of Small Orthodox Brotherhoods and the Yekaterinburg Diocese (Missionary Department).
Author: SOFIA ANDROSENKOPhoto: ALEXANDER VOLKOV
An interim report by an ad hoc CEMES committee
THE UKRAINIAN AUTOCEPHALY UNDER SCHOLARLY SCRUTINY THE PARTIES INVOLVED, THEIR ARGUMENTS AND THE LEGACY LEFT
The CEMES foundation has launched a scholarly project on Orthodox unity, so vulnerable in the new era of the Orthodox tradition that started with the Holy and Great Council. For the last three months, we focused almost exclusively on the Ukrainian issue. As the Orthodox unity had suffered a serious blow by the last-minute decision of the Russian Church, together with her allies (Antioch, Georgia, Bulgaria) not to participate in that long-awaited – and for nearly a century being prepared – Synod, an event considered as the ultimate expression of the Orthodox faith, so also now after the un-psychological decision of the Holy Synod of the Moscow Patriarchate (MP) to break Eucharistic communion with the Ecumenical Patriarchate (EP), made us continue more fervently our quest for Orthodox unity. More so, because that canonical action of MP is going to have tremendous consequences in the Orthodox diaspora, where the great majority of Orthodox from all jurisdictions have succeeded in establishing cooperation in the spirit of unity and common Orthodox witness. For this reason, as academic theologians we were involved in the theological debate on the issue of the granting of autocephaly in a single and united Orthodox Church in Ukraine, which we decided to study in relation to the triptych: Primacy-Conciliarity-Autocephaly. After the catalytic evidence on the issue officially produced by the EP at the end of September (OMIΛOYN TA KEIMENA (https://www.ecpatr.org/deltiotypou/…/final%20oukraniko-1.pdf) we eagerly expected the official counter arguments from the MP, which delayed to officially present. Only anonymous comments and semi-official responses were published, the most serious being (mid-October) the one by prof. Mickail Zheltov, member of a MP synodical committee, with an older treatise, which naturally did not respond to the most recent arguments of the EP. And we eagerly anticipated an equally strong official theological argument by the MP, if this great Orthodox Church was to re-enter the theological discussion on equal scientific footing. At the beginning the MP followed a rather communication strategy, repeating in the last speech of His Holiness Patriarch Cyril the conspiracy theory, namely that the entire process was politically motivated and that it is all about evil forces wanting to destroy the Russian Church etc. The main document on which this painful division in a large country, populated mainly by Orthodox, could be resolved was the 1686 Patriarchal act, by which only the right to ordain the Metropolitan of Kyiv was granted to the Patriarch of Moscow, because of the difficult situation at that time, on the clearly expressed condition to follow the decision of the Kyivan clergy-laity assembly, and most importantly to commemorate the EP, something that evidently proves that the Kyivan Metropolia still remained under his omophorion. Instead, the EP argument went on, the MP uncanonically annexed to its jurisdiction the Kyivan Metropolia and the entire Ukrainian Lands. Quite late (end of October) there was an attempt to officially answer the EP arguments (https://mospat.ru/gr/2018/10/23/news167003/); and at the end of November the site of the MP DERC posted prof. Zheltov's treatise translated into Greek (https://mospat.ru/gr/2018/11/28/news167329/). Being a renowned liturgist, prof. Zheltov skipped the condition of the commemoration by the Kyivan Metropolitan of the Ecumenical Patriarch, a clear evidence to which jurisdiction the Kyivan Metropolitan belonged (see note 130), interpreting this condition as “no more than simple good wishes”). Both the official MP response to the EP arguments and Prof. Zheltov long article rightly insist on the unity of the Kyivan and Moschovite Rus. However, this is a past history by no means relevant to the present situation, where the vast majority of the Ukrainians consider Russians as aggressors and the head of the MP as persona non grata. But even these later arguments were carefully refuted by the EP, first by an equally extensive treatise by Emer. Prof. Vlasios Feidas, posted on 29.11.18 and recently by Bishop Makarios of Christoupolis, speaking as Patriarchal representative at the European Union on 4.12.18 . And finally, two days later by the EP advisor, Prof. Dn John Chryssavgis, in a short but very convincing video presentation One cannot blame for the present situation either the EP, which is canonically obliged to defend its ecumenically set rights, or even the MP, which is also trying to defend its canonical jurisdiction using whatever arguments it considers appropriate. The blame – with regard both to the Orthodox unity and, more importantly, to the Rus Kyiv-Moscow unity, on which the MP puts the emphasis – is exclusively to be placed on the Ukrainian Orthodox Church under the Moscow Patriarchate (UOC MP), especially her leadership, which is slavishly following in all its decisions the Russian Church, both in refusing to meet the Constantinopolitan Exarchs, to whom they could request whatever conditions they wished and even condemn the EP decision, and also in repeating the MP arguments in its last synod at the Lavra of the Caves – instead of the meeting with the President of Ukraine as it was agreed, a synod considered by some as an ecclesiastical coup both in view of its sudden invitation and because of its decision to deny the right of a free conscious decision to its hierarchs, and we would add, of not considering the earlier October letter of the EP to her Primate, Metr. Onufrius (https://panorthodoxcemes.blogspot.com/2018/12/blog-post_49.html). In our view, by refusing to participate in its entirety in the unification process they lost a unique opportunity to secure to a large extent both their legitimate control of the autocephalous-in-the-process Orthodox Church in Ukraine, and – what is even more important – they would determine and pursue the actual unity between Ukrainian and Russian Orthodoxy. The only blame on the MP is its decision to use the Divine Eucharist, the ultimate Orthodox characteristic of self-identity, for an administrative dispute creating, as we noted, numerous problems in our effort to secure the Orthodox unity, especially in the Orthodox diaspora. But such non psychological actions are numerous in our long history – in both the first and the second millennium – and in the course of time are solved. The MP has used it also for the Estonian territorial dispute; but it lifted it after few years. This we also pray to happen again. Otherwise, and in view of the possibility of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church joining the new scheme, after taking of course the necessary canonical steps, many devoted Orthodox would possibly prefer the unity with the Roman Catholic Church, especially with the Present Pope, rather than with the Russian Church, especially with her current Russkii Mir theory, which in very many respects is contrary to the more holistic mission document of the Holy and Great Council, under the title “The Mission of the Orthodox Church in Today’s World,” a document for which the Russian Orthodox Church, after all, has officially the most reservations. In all similar cases in the past and the previous century canonical irregularities, resulting in schismatic situations – most notably in our own Greek autocephalous Church – the Ecumenical Patriarchate intervened, following the Canons of the Ecumenical Councils, and healed the schisms bringing millions of Orthodox back to the canonical Orthodox Church by granting them autocephaly. This is what happened to all newer Patriarchates and Autocephalous Orthodox Churches. Several other arguments have been unofficially presented against the decision of the EP to proceed to the Ukrainian autocephaly: “Why now?” But the real objection should be “why so late?” For three centuries the MP exercised authority over Ukraine, and none questioned this status, even if it was uncanonical. Canonically, and legally in general, speaking, an irregularity does not change the canonical tradition. To be honest, the EP, despite being questioned as the “Protos”, according to the canonical tradition of the Orthodox Church, by the Russian Church in numerous occasions – even creating obstacles to the ecumenical dialogue, especially with the Catholics – he preferred not to halt the century-long prepared process toward the long-anticipated Pan-Orthodox Council. Another argument was that the schismatics and anathematized – measures that were imposed in a legalistic and semi-nationalistic way, and not in the philanthropic one of the oikonomia that canons request– did not repent. The inability of the UOC MP to solve the problem, and thus retain Orthodox unity in the country, has inevitably forced the Ecumenical Patriarchate to act as it did: by revoking the 1686 act in its entirety, because its conditions un-canonically have never been met (we must admit that the MP has lately produced some evidence to the contrary), by receiving the “ekkliton” appeal of the anathematized and schismatics,thus restoring Orthodox unity in Ukraine, by restoring its Stavropegia in Kyiv, and by returning again the Kyivan Metropolia under the omophorion of the Ecumenical Patriarch. Others have argued that the Holy Canons, as canonical rules set in an old time, cannot solve current more complex situations with political and geopolitical consequences. Those who follow this MP logic may not go as far as abandoning the ages-old canonical tradition that was established by the canons of the Ecumenical Councils, but in the back of their mind they propose a model of church unity without a Protos, without a primacy of honour and service (and with certain prerogatives). In practice, all Orthodox with no exception – and with no theological counter argument – follow a primacy at all levels of Church life (parish, diocese, autocephalous church), except at the universal one. We are not saying that we must slavishly follow the holy canons with no contextualization of their content. We insist that we need to keep our canonical tradition faithfully but dynamically interpreted. Otherwise there is a danger to fall into a protestant-style confederation of independent Orthodox Churches, a situation almost inevitable with the alternative proposal. If that happens, we can no longer speak of the “one, holy, catholic and apostolic church” we confess in our Church, but of something alien to Christian and authentic Orthodox ecclesiology. Unfortunately, for many centuries after the Great Schism we have unconsciously developed a “negative” Orthodox identity: we are not what our tradition has left us as legacy, but what the others, mainly the Catholics, are not. In other words, without a primacy, a visible expression of the Church’s unity, accompanied of course by synodality. What is, finally, the most promising outcome of this crisis – now that the process toward the Ukrainian autocephaly is approaching its final stage – is that the EP is reviving an ancient ecclesiological ethos; the participation of the entire people of God (clergy and laity) in our Church’s decision -making process, which in our present day autocephalous Orthodox Churches is either forgotten or at best marginalized. He brought, in other words, back the authentic version of synodality, hopefully to be followed not only at the top, but at all levels of Church life: parish, diocese, regional/national, universal. In his letter of invitation, the EP underlined the ancient conciliar process, and in this Ukrainian case the pre-1686 tradition: “Bishops, priests, those who lead monastic life and laypeople will take part in the Unification Council on December 15 in Kyiv. All of them, the letter goes on, will have the right to vote” (panorthodoxcemes.blogspot.com/2018/12/constantinople-finalizes-procedure-for.html). We hope this will alert our Church in Greece, which has quite recently experienced a similar crisis, in the face of which she refused, like the Russian Church, to allow herself to break the chains of her enslavement to a secular state.
Petros Vassiliadis Emeritus Professor President of CEMES
THE PROGRAM ON "ORTHODOX ECUMENICAL THEOLOGY" AND THE FACULTY
() The International Hellenic University has started an inter-Orthodox, inter-jurisdictional English-speaking post-graduate program on Orthodox Ecumenical Theology – the term “ecumenical” referring to the universal, catholic and ecumenical dimension of the Christian faith – to foster Orthodox unity at an academic level, in addition to providing high level academic services. The program is mission-oriented, biblically and liturgically-based, with a primary intention the implementation of the rich Orthodox Patristic tradition in the 21st century. NEXT INTAKE: OCTOBER 2020 The details of the program, originally planned for non-Orthodox, can be retrieved in http://hum.ihu.edu.gr/index.php/en/courses/masters/master-in-orthodox-ecumenical-theology, and https://www.facebook.com/petros.vassiliadis.5/posts/1449698951842555). The program was originally planned and prepared by the scholarly and academic resources of CEMES and its friends. However, in order to make it as inter-Orthodox as possible we decided to invite scholars from all Orthodox jurisdictions as co-instructors as follows Programme Structure Students are required to complete the following courses (Core courses and elective courses): The Core Courses - First Term
The Elective Courses During the second semester, students should choose three courses from one of the following streams and one course from the rest of the two streams, according to their interests and their current and future career orientation: (a) Foundational Orthodox Theology
The Faculty (in red the CEMES members, in parenthesis the Orthodox Jurisdictions) Biblical Courses Petros Vassiliadis Miltiadis Konstantinou Ivan Zelev Dimitrov (BUL) Nicolas Abou Mrad (ANT) Dimitrios Passakos Georgios Adam (EVAN) Moschos Goutzioudis Mauro Pesce (CATH) Liturgical Courses Pavlos Koumarianos (GR) Augustinos Bairaktaris Niki Tsironis (GR) Paul Meyendorff (OCA) Systematic Theological Courses Georgios Martzelos Vassilios Karayannis (CYP) Emmanuel Clapsis (EP) Nicolai Mosoiu (ROM) Porphyrios Georgi (ANT) Historical Courses Dimitrios Moschos (GR) Tamara Grdzelidze (GEO) Theodosios Kyriakidis MissiologicalCourses Dimitris Keramidas Cristian Sonea (ROM) Athanasios Papathanasiou (GR) Evangelia Voulgaraki Rev. Gregory Edwards Ecumenical Courses Cyril Hovorun (UOC-MP) Vassiliki Stathokosta Inter-Faith andEnvironmental Courses Nikolaos Dimitriadis John Chryssavgis (EΡ) John Ngige Njoroge (ALE) Ecclesiological courses Metr. John Zizioulas (EP) John P. Manousakis (EP) Cyril Hovorun (UOC-MP) Social and Ethical Theological Courses Christos Tsironis Niki Papageorgiou Lukasz Nazarko (POL) Modern, Gender and Bio-ethics Courses Petros Panagiotopoulos Denia Athanasopoulou-Kypriou Elizabeth Prodromou Inter-Christian Courses Ivana Noble (ENAN) Nikos Kouremenos Rev. George Kondothra (ORIEN) Rev. Luca Bianchi (CATH) Rev. Theodore Kondidis (CATH) Right Rev. Rowan William (ANGL) Right Rev. Tom Wright (ANGL) Patristic Courses Metr. Kallistos Ware (ΕΡ) Sebastian Brock (ANGL Norman Russell (ANGL) Medieval Theological Courses Abp. Elpidoforos Lampriniadis (ΕΡ) George Demacopoulos (EP) Canonical Courses John Erickson (OCA) Theodoros Yagou (JER) Jovic Rastko (SER) *Any student from an Orthodox jurisdiction registered will automatically activate the faculty member(s) from the same jurisdiction. Similarly, for the elective courses, for all recommending members of the faculty
Schedule The M.Th. in the Orthodox Theology is a 14-month full-time program of study comprised of three parts over three semesters. It is specifically organized for non-Orthodox, the Orthodox of the diaspora, Orthodox theologians from all Autocephalous Churches, as well as graduate students of other disciplines. Eligible for registration are holders of any under-graduate diploma from accredited higher education institutions. It is taught exclusively in English. Students are required to successfully complete 90 ECTS. The first semester covers an introductory course (worth 3 ETCS) and the 6 core courses (worth 5 ETCS each). The second semester covers 6 elective courses (worth 5 ECS each) from the above list shortened after a consultation with the students and the academic committee at the beginning of the program. The third period is taken up with work on the Master's dissertation (worth 27 ETCS) in one of the above areas. Each teaching term has 13 teaching weeks followed by a 6-day exam period. Target audience The M.Th. is addressed to English-speaking theologians, and graduates of relevant disciplines, who wish to acquire or broaden their specialization towards an effective application of the foundational doctrine of Christianity, especially the Orthodox (Biblical, Liturgical, Patristic, Systematic) to our secular and multi-religious and multi-cultural context. Ideal career path The M.Th. program offers a critical and multifarious study of Christianity, from the traditional focus of the Christian Faith to its witness to present day realities. The obtained skills that the graduates develop will allow them to work in Educational Institutions and Academies, concentrating on classical Christian Theology, to contemporary contextual missionary witness and Church administration.
A NEW INTER-ORTHODOX POST-GRADUATE PROGRAM ON "ORTHODOX ECUMENICAL THEOLOGY"
The International Hellenic University (IHU, ihu.edu.gr), with the blessing of course of H.A.H. the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and of most Autocephalous Orthodox Churches, has asked the Center of Ecumenical, Missiological and Environmental Studies “Metropolitan Panteleimon Papageorgiou” (CEMES) to set up an inter-Orthodox, inter-jurisdictional English speaking post-graduate program of highest possible academic standards, entitled Post-Graduate Program on Orthodox Ecumenical Theology. It was originally planned for non-Orthodox graduate students, wishing to learn more about the Orthodox Theology, not only as it was articulated during the past two millennia, but also as it addresses current contemporary issues. The program is mission-oriented, biblically and liturgically-based, with a primary intention to study the rich Orthodox Patristic tradition, but at the same time present and reflect on how this can be implemented in the 21st century. The Scientific Committee of the Program was decided to consist of renowned Academic hierarchs who serve, or have served, as Rectors, Deans, Directors of Orthodox Academic Institutions from all jurisdictions, i.e. Metropolitans John of Pergamon (Athens Academy), Kallistos of Diokleia (Oxford), Nifon of Targoviste (Rector of the University), Makarios of Κenya (Dean of Makarios III Seminary), Elpidoforos of Proussa (Chalki). From the discussions among the members of the scientific committee it came out that the program in this present situation should primarily serve the unity of Orthodoxy at the basic level of Orthodox academic theology, with the goal to educate the younger generation of future Orthodox Church leaders from all canonical Autocephalous Orthodox Churches. This can be better achieved if students and professors from as many as possible Orthodox jurisdictions and Orthodox traditions (Greek, Russian, Slavic, Romanian, Arabic, African, but also Western diaspora) actively participate in the program. As far as the students of the Program are concerned, for the credibility of the inter-Orthodox character of the program it is suggested that ALL Orthodox Ecclesiastical jurisdictions send top theologians, and if possible contribute to the fees (3.000 euros for the entire program, courses, examinations, reading of the M.Th. thesis). The IHU has made provision of some scholarships on high grades criteria. And some dioceses and Ecclesiastical Institutions and Monasteries have pledged extra scholarships. In addition to that, the dioceses of the greater area of Thessaloniki will offer hospitality at their hostels so far for 10 students, so that the different jurisdictions can easier contribute to their students’ travel expenses and university fees. Also in consultation with the University authorities after the first two years of its implementation it was agreed - on the recommendation of some members of the scientific committee - the program to move to, and be hosted by, institutions of other jurisdictions – at least for a semester – if they wish to, and of course have the necessary infra structure. The participation of both professors and students from ALL Orthodox Autocephalous Churches is considered as of extreme importance. And for this reason, it must be brought to the attention of all Primates, and if possible as many dioceses and Academic Institutions as possible. Finally, and equally important, but independent of, though somehow related to, the program, it was recommended by Metropolitan Nifon of Targoviste, that a request be submitted to Patriarch Bartholomew to bring to the attention of the next Synaxis of the Primates, that a Permanent Theological Commission be set up, consisting of renowned Orthodox theologians, Hierarchs and lay theologians with academic experience, if possible headed by a Primate, and the name of the Archbishop of Albanian Anastasios came to our mind. Prof. Emeritus Petros Vassiliadis Director of the Program
The Presidents of CEMES The Honorary President of CEMES The President in Honour of CEMES The President Metr. of Thessaloniki Anthimos Prof. Emer. Petros Vassiliadis Prof. Emeritus Nikolaos Zacharopoulos
The members of the E.C. of CEMES: Prof. Petros Panagiotopoulos, Vice-President, Nikos Kosmidis, Secretary General, Dr. Nikolaos Dimitriadis, Tresurer Dr. K. Drosia, Prof. Dimitrios Keramidas, Dimitrios Nikiforos, M.Th., Rev. P. Hanoglou, Maria Sereti M.Th,
A SHORT MESSAGE To the organizers and the participants of the Conference on: “Eastern Orthodoxy and Inter-Religious Encounter in a Secular Age” Thessaloniki, September 12, 2017 Your Eminence, President of the Volos Academy Dear colleagues from both the co-organizing institutions, Dear participants of the Conference, Sisters and brothers in Christ.
On behalf of the Honorary President, His Eminence Metropolitan of Thessaloniki, Mgr. Anthimos and all the members of the Center for Ecumenical, Missiological and Environmental Studies “Metropolitan Panteleimon Papageorgiou” (CEMES), I would like to express our sincere gratitude to the Volos Academy for Theological Studies, a pioneer Orthodox institution promoting the dialogue with the secular world, as well as the University of Exeter, for organizing this conference. Given the affirmation of the Orthodox engagement in the interfaith dialogues, expressed at the highest conciliar level of the Eastern Orthodox Church, but also the “paradigm shift” in world mission toward on “inter-faith dialogue”, and in particular on the basis of a theological contribution by the Orthodox, the articulation of an Orthodox "theology of religions" constitutes a responsibility of the Orthodox academic community to the Orthodox Church. These ideas were expressed at the final communique of a similar academic symposium – though confined only to the Greek speaking theological resources – held in Thessaloniki four years ago. The general conclusion of this symposium was that both in the Bible and in the Patristic tradition there are elements that present the other religions as human constructions, but there are also other testimonies that while recognize Christ as the unique Savior of the world and his church as the ark of salvation, they accept the saving presence of God beyond the boundaries of the Church. From a theological perspective, and especially within the frame of the Orthodox tradition, it was argued that a synthesis of the two positions is possible; after all they constitute equally substantial elements of our Christian faith. For this reason any Orthodox formulation of a theology of religions should be based on the catholicity of the Christian tradition and not on selective elements that in most cases reflect personal phobias and ideological conservative or liberal perceptions. The inter-faith dialogue is also a sine-qua-non in ours Church’s witness to the gospel, if our ecumenical efforts do not aim at an anti-modern front but at working hand by hand with the faithful of other religions and beliefs instead of fighting one another, thus enormously contributing to a tolerant, peaceful, just, and sustainable society. Its final conclusion was that from the viewpoint of Orthodox theology a "theology of religions" is possible, feasible, but also legitimate; it requires however further scientific theological investigation. And we hope and pray that this present endeavour will cover this need. Congratulating you again for your invaluable theological contribution we wholeheartedly wish you and all the participants the wisdom from above and a success in your efforts. Petros Vassiliadis Prof. Emeritus of the University of Thessaloniki President of CEMES (www.cemes-en.weebly.com)
A SHORT MESSAGE to St. Filaret’s Brotherhood and the Conference on Eucharistic Ecclesiology https://sfi.ru/announcements/ievkharistichieskaia-ekklieziologhiia-sieghodnia-vospriiatiie-voploshchieniie-razvitiie.html May 5, 2017 Dear Fr. Georgy, I would like to express our sincere gratitude to St. Filaret’ Brotherhood and its Theological Institute for their invaluable contribution to the renewal .of the Orthodox ecclesiastical life. Your untiring efforts keep the Eucharistic vision alive, especially in your local Orthodox Church. The Center of Ecumenical, Missiological and Environmental Studies is grateful to your work, especially because of your openness to the world, which is so neglected in our contemporary Orthodox life. We consider the festive conference you organize to honor Fr. Nicholas Afanasiev, a distinguished theologian, as a contribution to our Church’s effort to regain its unity and conciliarity. Driving force to promote a similar vision in our local Church, the Church of Greece, for more than two decades – unfortunately as a lonely figure in a conservative ecclesiastical and social environment – was the late Metropolitan of Thessaloniki Panteleimon Papageorgiou (1902-1979. To revitalize his vision and further contribute to the renewal of our Church, a great number of academic scholars, as well as some of his direct or spiritual relatives, established in his name the afore mentioned Center. This year CEMES finalized the proceedings of an international conference on the restoration of the Order of Deaconesses (or women deacons), which came to the conclusion that an institution so deeply rooted in the Orthodox tradition, theologically, historically and most importantly with conciliar and canonical validity, despite falling for the time being into disuse, must be urgently revived in order to support and strengthen the authentic witness of our Church in society and the world. Congratulating you again for your significant theological initiatives we wholeheartedly greet you with the Paschal XPICTOC ANECTH!
Petros Vassiliadis Prof. Emeritus of the University of Thessaloniki President of CEMES
THE FINAL COMMUNIQUE OF CEMES' INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON "INTEGRAL ECOLOGY AS THE NEW ROAD TO RECONCILIATION" (co-organised with AIESC and AUTH)
Communiqué de presse – Thessaloniki – le 5 Septembre 2016 Tournant dans l’effort œcuménique pour une Ecologie Intégrale Une importante conférence transdisciplinaire a eu lieu les 2 et 3 septembre a l’Université Aristote de Thessalonique sous le titre «l’Ecologie Intégrale comme nouvelle voie vers la réconciliation». De manière remarquable, cette rencontre était placée sous le triple patronage du Pape François, du Patriarche Orthodoxe Bartholomée, et de l’Archevêque de Canterbury, Justin Welby. Des messages des deux premiers ont été lus par des émissaires spéciaux tandis que le chef de l’Eglise Anglicane participait aux débats par vidéo. La conférence a attiré une cinquantaine de participants, laïcs et ecclésiastiques, d’une quinzaine de pays, aussi extra-européens ; des ingénieurs, architectes, sociologues, politologues, juristes et théologiens. Les organisateurs étaient l’AIESC (Association Internationale pour l’Enseignement Social Chrétien, www.aiesc.net), le SRCRC (Social Research Center for Religion and Culture – Université Aristote) et le CEMES (Center for Ecumenical, Missiological and Environmental Studies,wwwcemes.weebly.com), avec le soutien de Renovabis et de l’Université Aristote. Les discussions s’appuyaient naturellement aussi bien sur l’Encyclique « Laudato Si » que sur l’excellent texte du Saint et Grand Synode orthodoxe de juin 2016 « l’Eglise comme témoin du monde », mais aussi sur les apports des diverses disciplines. L’accent fut mis sur le fait que l’on ne pouvait résoudre les problèmes écologiques sans les dépasser largement. Paul Dembinski, le président de l’AIESC, souligna que la voie de l’écologie intégrale invite à aller «au-delà de l’écologie, mais surtout au-delà du matérialisme utilitariste». Le Rev. professeur Chrysostame Nassis, de l’Université Aristote, ajouta qu’il fallait d’urgence aller « au-delà des slogans » en matière écologique. Le professeur Christos Tsironis voit dans l’écologie intégrale « une réponse dynamique et multidimensionnelle, pleine de compassion et de responsabilité aux cris de la terre et aux cris des pauvres ». Le professeur Petros Vassiliadis souligne que les Chrétiens, en plus des droits de l’homme, doivent mettre l’accent sur les responsabilités humaines face à l’environnement. Quant au doyen de la faculté de Théologie, le Professeur Konstatinou, il conclut : «un changement radical des structures sociales est nécessaire. Il faut lutter contre le mode de vie consumériste et donc intervenir au cœur de la société». La signification de cet engagement de toutes les Eglises chrétiennes autour de l’écologie intégrale ne saurait être sous-estimée. La possibilité apparait que là où les politiques ont échoué, les Eglises peuvent donner une inspiration salvatrice, au niveau local comme au niveau global. Le chemin pour ce faire passe aussi bien par le principe orthodoxe de «réconciliation» (de l’homme avec l’Autre, avec la création et avec Dieu) que par la contribution de chacun à l’avènement de la «Civilisation de l’amour» - si chère à Paul VI et Saint Jean Paul II- c'est-à-dire du respect de la dignité de la personne humaine aussi dans sa vocation eschatologique. Il est à souhaiter que cette inspiration des Eglises chrétiennes, portée avant tout par les laïcs professionnels, pourra être prochainement étendue et partagée par les autres religions. Cette conférence historique de Thessalonique est donc avant tout un appel à l’espoir. Le conférence formule un appel pour qu’un cessez-le-feu universel soit observé le 20 septembre prochain, le jour de la Journée Mondiale de la Prière pour la Paix et de la réunion d’Assise des leaders religieux du monde. Pour une plus ample information veuillez prendre contact avec un des sous signés : email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON INTEGRAL ECOLOGY co-organised with AIESC and AUTH
A Letter of support and congratulation for the 25th anniversary of St. Andrew Biblical Theological Institute
ΚΕΝΤΡΟ ΟΙΚΟΥΜΕΝΙΚΩΝ ΙΕΡΑΠΟΣΤΟΛΙΚΩΝ ΚΑΙ ΠΕΡΙΒΑΛΛΟΝΤΙΚΩΝ ΜΕΛΕΤΩΝ ΜΗΤΡΟΠΟΛΙΤΗΣΠΑΝΤΕΛΕΗΜΩΝΠΑΠΑΓΕΩΡΓΙΟΥ Center of Ecumenical, Missiological and Environmental Studies Metropolitan Panteleimon Papageorgiou A SHORT MESSAGE on behalf of the Center for Ecumenical, Missiological and Environmental Studies “Metropolitan Panteleimon Papageorgiou” (CEMES), to St. ANDREW BIBLICAL THEOLOGICAL INSTITUTE for its 25th anniversary
Dear Dr. Bodrov,
I would like to express our sincere gratitude to St. Andrew Biblical Theological Institute for the 25 years of its invaluable contribution to promote the theological renewal .and the ecumenical awareness of our Church. Your untiring efforts keep the ecumenical vision alive, especially in your local Orthodox Church. CEMES is enthusiastically grateful to your work, especially because of the biblical focus, which is so neglected in our present day Orthodox theological reflections. We consider the series of festive conferences you have launched this year to commemorate your small jubilee as a humble contribution to our Church’s titanic effort toward her Pan-Orthodox Synod next year.
Driving force to promote this vision in our local Church, the Church of Greece, for more than two decades – unfortunately as a lonely figure in a widely even to our days conservative ecclesiastical and social environment – was the late Metropolitan of Thessaloniki Panteleimon Papageorgiou (1902-1979), a close companion of the visionary Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras. To revitalize his vision and further contribute to the ecumenical cause, a great number of academics, as well as some of his direct or spiritual relatives, established in his name the afore mentioned Center.
Last year one of CEMES’ international conferences came to a conclusion that not only inter-Christian but also inter-faith dialogue is a sine-qua-non in ours Church’s witness to the gospel. Even the articulation of a "theology of religions" from the Orthodox point of view is possible, and if our ecumenical efforts do not aim at an anti-modern front but at working together instead of fighting one another, can enormously contribute to a tolerant, peaceful, just, and sustainable society.
Early this year CEMES organized another international conference on the restoration of Order of Deaconesses (or women deacons), which came to the conclusion that an institution so deeply rooted in the Orthodox tradition, theologically, historically and most importantly with conciliar and canonical validity, despite falling for the time being into disuse, must be urgently revived in order to support and strengthen the authentic witness of our Church in society and the world.
Congratulating you again for the 25 years of your significant theological contribution we wholeheartedly wish you many happy returns and to your great jubilee.
Petros Vassiliadis Prof. Emeritus of the University of Thessaloniki President of CEMES
Thessaloniki, 22 September 2015
Further cooperation between CEMES and BOSE and a letter of gratitude
ΚΕΝΤΡΟ ΟΙΚΟΥΜΕΝΙΚΩΝ ΙΕΡΑΠΟΣΤΟΛΙΚΩΝ ΚΑΙ ΠΕΡΙΒΑΛΛΟΝΤΙΚΩΝ ΜΕΛΕΤΩΝ ΜΗΤΡΟΠΟΛΙΤΗΣΠΑΝΤΕΛΕΗΜΩΝΠΑΠΑΓΕΩΡΓΙΟΥ Center of Ecumenical, Missiological and Environmental Studies Metropolitan Panteleimon Papageorgiou Centro di Studi Ecumenici, Missiologici ed Ambientali Metropolita Panteleimon Papageorgiou Salonicco, 18.9.2015
A: Enzo Bianchi Abate del Monastero di Bose Stimatissimo e carissimo Fratello,
Desidererei anzitutto esprimere, a nome di tutti i soci e membri del CEMES, i miei sentimenti di gratitudine per l’ospitalità offertami durante il XXIII Convegno ecumenico internazionale di spiritualità ortodossa, dedicato al tema “misericordia e perdono”. Il Monastero è diventato, da diversi anni, per il mondo ortodosso un luogo indispensabile nella rivalorizzazione della spiritualità delle nostre Chiese.
Gli interventi presentati quest’anno hanno illuminato i diversi lati dell’etica del perdono e della riconciliazione, così essenziali per la fede cristiana. In modo particolare – e forse anche provvidenziale – il tema del perdono diviene oggi ancor più rilevante nel cammino ecumenico delle Chiese, in vista del Giubileo straordinario, indetto dal papa Francesco, dedicato, appunto, alla Misericordia, e del prossimo Sinodo Panortodosso che, deo volente, si svolgerà a Fanar il prossimo anno e che vuole essere una martyria di unità e di riconciliazione ispirata alla tradizione e spiritualità ortodossa.
Nel corso dell’ultimo concilio direttivo del nostro Centro (18 settembre 2015), ho presentato, in qualità di Presidente, un report sintetico dei lavori del convegno, nonché un prospetto generale sulle attività ecumeniche del Monastero di Bose. Tutti i soci del Centro hanno espresso il loro profondo ringraziamento per l’appoggio offerto da parte della Comunità di Bose (e Sua personalmente, con interventi sulla stampa italiana) alla nostra iniziativa “Pray for Greece” (cemes-en.weebly.com), un appello alle Chiese e ai cristiani d’Europa a pregare e sostenere, in un momento particolarmente difficile per il nostro paese, le idee di democrazia, di dignità, di solidarietà e di giustizia sociale che sono parte della sensibilità cristiana. Anche questo “incontro” è stato, in qualche modo, un’espressione tangibile dell’etica della misericordia e della riconciliazione, nonché di quella “parentela spirituale” di cui spesso parla il patriarca ecumenico Bartolomeo.
Il CEMES, fondato nel 2011, ha assunto, per Statuto e vocazione, sulla scia anche della missione della Comunità di Bose, l’incarico di promuovere e sostenere, in Grecia e altrove, iniziative e progetti di carattere scientifico, didattico ed editoriale al fine di favorire: lo spirito di unità tra i cristiani; l’accoglienza e il dialogo fraterno con i non cristiani; la tutela del creato come una massima responsabilità delle Chiese. Il nostro intento è, tra l’altro, quello di assistere alla formazione ecumenica di una nuova generazione di teologi e cristiani in modo che essi possano scoprire, testimoniare e condividere i carismi e il patrimonio diacronico della Chiesa indivisa.
Sulla base di questa vocazione e impegno comuni, il nostro Centro ha deciso unanimemente di partire da questo “incontro” per approfondire la nostra conoscenza e continuare con una più stretta collaborazione con la Comunità di Bose, nonché pensare concretamente a progetti per realizzare un sostegno reciproco al nostro lavoro comune. Le assicuro che, al CEMES, Lei e la Comunità di Bose troveranno la stessa accoglienza e ospitalità che anima lo spirito monastico dell’Oriente e dell’Occidente. Con riconoscimento e auguri per la Sua missione e per la Comunità di Bose, Prof. Emerito Petros Vassiliadis Dimitrios Nikiforos, M.Th. PresidenteSegretario generale
A Christian Call in a Time of Crisis in Europe
If one member suffers, all suffer together (1 Corinthians 12:26)
Respected ecumenical friends and partners in Europe, Dear, sisters and brothers in Christ,
In the spirit of the contemporary inter-Christian cooperation, churches have contributed to the development and establishment of a wider ecumenical spirit of reconciliation and collaboration – extremely necessary and significant for both Europe and the world. This spirit was particularly needed in challenging times, such as following the end of the World War ΙΙ and the rise of the divisive climate of the Cold War between the East and West. Since then, churches have worked to support a progressive, and sometimes even a radical Christian spiritual approach in addressing social, political, economic and environmental issues. In this spirit, as Christians and responsible citizens, we call the European churches, ecumenical organizations, religious institutions and various Christian movements in Europe to respond to our call to ensure a secure future of our common home by taking immediate actions.
The Greek crisis is a European crisis. Therefore we believe that only at the European level foundations for a sustainable and definitive solution to this problematic, injurious and particularly dangerous situation can occur. We encourage both the Greek government and the governments of the member states of the European Union to exhaust any margin of dialogue to reach an immediate agreement, ensuring equal participation of Greece in the Common Monetary Union, and leading up to a national economic recovery.
We recognize that the current adverse situation in our country is also relevant to the crucial issues related with the growth and development of particular political, economic and social systems during the political changeover, following the re-establishment of Democracy in 1974. Furthermore, we recognize that neither have we (as citizens and Orthodox Christians) risen to the occasion nor have done the self- reflection required. Today we are ready to recognize errors in our political and economic system and we take responsibility for our failures to overcome these unhealthy situations. However, we are concerned about the policies proposed by our partners, focused apparently on the need for reforms, without taking into consideration the systemic causes of the crisis, the debt crisis and the need to address the serious humanitarian consequences of the ineffective neoliberal policies applied in the recent years.
Despite our different political affiliations and interpretation of effective solutions, we all recognize that the position of Greece remains within the European family; a position that represents the overwhelming majority of Greek citizens. We call for actions that can ensure European identity of our country based on the principles of democracy, solidarity, social justice, dignity, mutual respect and implementation of the European principles. Based on these cornerstones of unity, cooperation and common progress of the European people, we invite you to work together in order to safeguard these values, because we recognize in these foundational principles common cultural, religious and humanistic inheritance of Europe. This inheritance must be preserved at all costs against powers that put our peaceful common path at serious risk; powers that impose the deification of the markets and aim to revive sad moments of the history of our continent.
Within this context, we welcome supportive statements by religious leaders and organizations. We appreciate especially comments of solidarity from His Holiness Pope Francis, pastoral letter of the distinguished members of the Presidium of the Conference of European Churches and the public interventions from the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams. We call upon all Christians of Europe, in a spirit of prayer and prophetic witness (martyria), to remind the European family, the greatest value of human beings against the value of profit. We are experiencing an unfortunate revival of division and intense polarization across Europe, which taints the process of making political choices, traumatizes coexistence of our nations and stigmatizes people's hearts. In the midst of this dark reality, we firmly believe that churches of Europe must - and are able to - become bridges of cooperation and dialogue, as post-war history has proven. We are part of our common spiritual and cultural heritage and consequently co-responsible for our common future.
Friday, July 10, 2015 It was signed among others by Vasileiadis Petros, Professor Emeritus of the Theological School, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, President of the Center of Ecumenical, Missiological and Environmental Studies “Metropolitan Panteleimon Papageorgiou”
Saroglou Vassilis, Professor of psychology at the Université catholique de Louvain, President of the Académie internationale des sciences religieuses
Zaxaropoulos Nikos Gr., Deputy Dean, Professor of Theology, Head of the Master’s Programme in Theology, Neapolis University in Cyprus
Stamoulis Chrysostomos, Professor of the Theological School, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Head of the Department of Theology
Kalaitzidis Pantelis, Director, Volos Academy for Theological Studies, Volos, Greece
Zorbas Konstantinos, Dr. of Theology and Sociology General Director of the Orthodox Academy of Crete
Papageorgiou Niki, Associate Professor of Theology at the Theological School, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki
Tsompanidis Stylianos, Associate Professor of Theology at the Theological School, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki
Dimitrios Moschos, Assistant Professor of Theology at the Faculty of Theology, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens
Stathokosta Vassiliki, Assistant Professor of Theology at the Faculty of Theology, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens
Kasselouri-Hatzivassiliadi Eleni, Ph.D., Lecturer at the Hellenic Open University
Papathanasiou Athanasios N., Dr. of Theology, Lecturer at the Hellenic Open University
Mitralexis Sotiris, Visiting Assistant Professor of Philosophy (Bogazici University), Dr. of Philosophy (FUBerlin)
Nikiforos Dimitrios, M.Th., Secretary General of the Center of Ecumenical, Missiological and Environmental Studies “Metropolitan Panteleimon Papageorgiou”
Pekridou Katerina, M.Τh, Research Associate, Institute for Missiology & the Study of Theologies beyond Europe, Catholic Faculty of Theology, WWU-Münster
Papachristou Nikos-Giorgos, Religious editor / Amen.gr Student at the School of Social Sciences of the Pontifical Gregorian University / Rome with a scholarship of the Pontifical Council of Christian Unity
Kosmidis Nikos, Former World Council of Churches youth commissioner, Political and ecumenical activist
12th Session 19:30-20:00 Greek Time (17:30-18:00 GMT) Conclusion of the Conference – Perspectives for the Future
COMMUNIQUÉ AT THE CONCLUSION OF THE INTERNATIONAL THEOLOGICAL CONFERENCE: “DEACONESSES, ORDINATION OF WOMEN AND ORTHODOX THEOLOGY” with Appendix I & Appendix II “The Church is called to articulate its prophetic word . . . Our heart is set on the long-awaited Holy and Great Synod of the Orthodox Church in order to witness to its unity as well as to its responsibility and care for the contemporary world . . . The Church does not live for itself but is obliged to witness to and share God’s gifts with those near and afar.” Bearing in mind this message from the 2014 Synod of the Primates of the Orthodox Church, as well as the recommendation by His Beatitude Archbishop Chrysostomos of Cyprus on the same occasion that the Orthodox Church “should be also concerned with the role of women in the Church and strengthen her position on the issue of the ordination of women, while after a serious study and consideration of all parameters, restoring the order of deaconesses in the Church,” the Centre for Ecumenical, Missiological and Environmental Studies “Metropolitan Panteleimon Papageorgiou” (CEMES), together with the Theological Schools of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece, and Holy Cross of Boston USA, jointly organized an international theological conference on “Deaconesses, ordination of women and Orthodox theology.”
The conference was convened in Thessaloniki (22-24 January, 2015) at the premises of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, which graciously provided all electronic facilities for a live coverage, and at the Amphitheater “Panteleimon Papageorgiou” of the Holy Monastery of St. Theodora of Thessaloniki, which hosts the offices of CEMES, inaugurated in 2013 by His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. It was dedicated to 94-year-old Professor Emeritus Evangelos Theodorou, who sixty years ago was the first among Orthodox theologians to initiate scholarly discussion on the ordination of Deaconesses to the Sacramental Priesthood in the Orthodox Church. Conscious that a thorough theological examination of all aspects of this issue, which have over the years been discussed widely and ecumenically, constitutes a primary responsibility of the Orthodox academic community to the Orthodox Church in general, the above academic institutions organized this conference along the same lines with the conference held two years ago by CEMES on the theme: “An Orthodox approach for a theology of religions” (14-15 June, 2013).
The Conference was initially placed within the context of a two-year-project of CEMES, entitled: “Humble Theological Contribution to the Orthodox Church on its Way to the 2016 Pan-Orthodox Council” Although the issues debated during the conference are not included in the official agenda of this long-anticipated Pan-Orthodox Synod, the intervention of the Primate of the Church of Cyprus prompted the inclusion of this conference within the overall framework of the project. It was symbolically launched on the day that the Orthodox Churches commemorate St. Mary Magdalene, equal to the Apostles, with an open invitation to all interested theologians.
The concept of the conference was an in-depth examination of the theological argumentation by Orthodox scholars, one generation after the Rhodes Consultation, in view of exploring the progress in recent biblical and theological scholarship. In other words, the centrality of “Orthodox Theology” in the title of the conference was stressed, alongside reference to “Deaconesses” as a central and parallel focus, without neglecting the overall question of the “ordination of women,” inasmuch as it nowadays poses a challenge not only from outside the canonical boundaries of the Orthodox Church but also from its ecclesiastical dignitaries and theological scholars.
The theological perspective of the conference was prompted by Metropolitan John [Zizioulas] of Pergamon, who has argued for a purely theological conversation of this subject, and especially of the thorny question of the ordination of women, which has divided Churches and Christian denomination both vertically and horizontally. As the official representative of the Ecumenical Patriarchate addressing the Anglican Communion during its Lambeth Conference two decades ago, Metropolitan John warned all concerned that this problem cannot be solved by using either the argument from sociology or the argument from tradition. What is desperately needed is to address this delicate issue, which has resulted in painful divisions within and among almost all Christian traditions, on atheological basis.
Most of the papers focused on the Order of Deaconesses (or women deacons), the restoration of which was adopted by all speakers, participants and attendees. An institution so deeply, theologically and historically rooted in our Orthodox tradition and, most importantly, with conciliar and canonically validity, despite falling for the time being into disuse, must be urgently revived in order to support and strengthen the authentic witness of our Church in society and the world. This, of course, does not mean that the role of lay women in the Orthodox Church’s witness should not be vigorously encouraged.
All participants agreed that, in accordance with the current canonical restrictions, women are forbidden to enter into the sacramental or “hieratic” priesthood, except the “diaconal” one. For over a generation, the Orthodox Church holds a clear and concrete position on this matter, as explicitly expressed in the final document of the Rhodes Conference, which also patently recommends that “the apostolic order of deaconesses should be revived” (§ 32). Quite recently, however, a number of Orthodox theologians have expressed reservations concerning the theological validity of some arguments proposed against the ordination of women. The reformulation by Metropolitan Kallistos [Ware] of Diokleia of his seminal argumentation on the ordination of women; the tireless approach to the issue by the late Dr. Elizabeth Behr-Sigel, as well as her titanic struggle to upgrade the role of women in the Orthodox Church and its liturgy; and the theological views formulated by the late Prof. Nikos Matsoukas, one of the greatest Orthodox dogmatic theologians of our time; but also a number of Orthodox theological dissertations and post-doctoral studies as well as other scholarly contributions – all of these seem to have challenged the opposition to the ordination of women on the basis of Orthodox theology and tradition.
Apart from recommending that the forthcoming Pan-Orthodox Council consider the restoration of the Order of Deaconesses, our conference did not come to other conclusions, choosing to leave any final decision to the appropriate ecclesiastical authorities in the hope that they will also consider other relevant parameters. Speakers simply raised some serious theological concerns on all issues discussed (see Appendix I) and underlined the inconsistency in the conventional Orthodox view that appeals to “tradition” with regard to the overall question of the “ordination of women,” but ignores the same tradition in relation to the revival of the Order of Deaconesses and the participation of women in the sacramental diaconal priesthood of the Orthodox Church.
The nearly forty papers presented at the conference – in addition to the insightful messages from ecclesiastical (namely, the Ecumenical Patriarch) and academic authorities (from various theological schools) – covered almost all areas of biblical, liturgical, patristic, systematic, canonical, and historical theology. Although most papers focused on the issues from an Orthodox perspective, their sober analysis can provide theological argumentation for the wider Christian community, both to the Churches and Christian denominations that exclude women from the sacramental priesthood (such as Roman Catholics and some Evangelicals) and to those that have already adopted their ordination (such as Anglicans and mainstream Protestants). Other papers provided an objective and critical study of the history, experience and theological arguments of other Christian traditions from an Orthodox perspective. Finally, the conference did not omit to address the perspective of other non-Orthodox Christians (see Appendix II).
With regard to the issue of women’s ordination it was humbly suggested that from an Orthodox point of view the theological arguments used so far in the inter-Christian dialogue need to be reformulated; this is possible, feasible and legitimate, even if this requires further scholarly research.
All the papers delivered at this international theological conference will be published electronically on the official website of CEMES (cemes.weebly.com), and in printed form as part of the series of CEMES editions. Finally, all of our scholarly endeavor will be humbly submitted to the Ecumenical Patriarchate and all other Orthodox Churches.
From the Scientific Committee
THEOLOGICAL SCHOOL OF AUTH THEOLOGICAL SCHOOL OF HOLY CROSS, BOSTON USA CENTER OF ECUMENICAL, MISSIOLOGICAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL STUDIES «METROPOLITAN PANTELEIMON PAPAGEORGIOU» (CEMES)