Welcome to the official website of the CENTER OF ECUMENICAL, MISSIOLOGICAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL STUDIES "METROPOLITAN PANTELEIMON PAPAGEORGIOU" (CEMES)
NEW (7.2.19) 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 (https://panorthodoxcemes.blogspot.com/…/historical-canonica…). 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 (https://panorthodoxcemes.blogspot.com/2018/11/1686_29.html…) and recently by Bishop Makarios of Christoupolis, speaking as Patriarchal representative at the European Union on 4.12.18 (https://panorthodoxcemes.blogspot.com/…/12/blog-post_7.html…). And finally, two days later by the EP advisor, Prof. Dn John Chryssavgis, in a short but very convincing video presentation (https://panorthodoxcemes.blogspot.com/…/the-current-situati…). 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. 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 Moschos Goutzioudis Mauro Pesce Liturgical Courses Pavlos Koumarianos Michael Zheltov (ΜΡ) Niki Tsironis Paul Meyendorff (OCA) Systematic Theological Courses Georgios Martzelos Vassilios Karayannis (CYP) Emmanuel Clapsis (EP) Nicolai Mosoiu (ROM) Porphyrios Georgi (ANT) Nik. Loudovikos Historical Courses Dimitrios Moschos Tamara Grdzelidze (GEO) Theodosios Kyriakidis MissiologicalCourses Dimitris Keramidas Cristian Sonea (ROM) Athanasios Papathanasiou Evangelia Voulgaraki Rev. Gregory Edwards Ecumenical Courses Ioannis Lotsios Cyril Hovorun (ΜΡ) Vassiliki Stathokosta Stelios Charalambidis Inter-Faith andEnvironmental Courses Nikolaos Dimitriadis John Chryssavgis (EΡ) John Ngige Njoroge (ALE) Angeliki Ziaka Ecclesiological courses Metr. John Zizioulas John P. Manousakis Cyril Hovorun (ΜΡ) Social and Ethical Theological Courses Christos Tsironis Niki Papageorgiou Lukasz Nazarko (POL) Modern, Gender and Bio-ethics Courses Petros Panagiotopoulos Denia Athanasopoulou-Kypriou Aristotle Papanikolaou Elizabeth Prodromou Pantelis Kalaitzidis Inter-Christian Courses Ivana Noble Nikos Kouremenos Rev. George Kondothra Rev. Luca Bianchi Rev. Theodore Kondidis Right Rev. Rowan William Right Rev. Tom Wright Patristic Courses Metr. Kallistos Ware (ΕΡ) Metr. Hilarion Alfeyev (ΜΡ) Sebastian Brock Norman Russell Medieval Theological Courses Metr. Elpidoforos Lampriniadis (ΕΡ) George Demacopoulos Canonical Courses John Erickson (OCA) Theodoros Yagou (JER) Jovic Rastko (SER) Gregorios Papathomas Nikolaos Maggioros *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), Hilarion of Volokolamsk (Ss. Cyril & Methodius, Moscow), 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 Officers of CEMES The Honorary President of CEMES The President of CEMES The Secr. General of CEMES Metr. of Thessaloniki Anthimos Prof. Emeritus Petros Vassiliadis Dimitrios Nikiforos, M.Th.
The members of the E.C. of CEMES: Prof. St. Tsompanidis, Prof. A. Ziaka, Dr. N. Dimitriadis, Rev. P. Hanoglou, Dr. E. Kasselouri, Dr. St. Charalampidis
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 : firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org
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
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)