The conference "Christian witness in Today’s World: Aspects of Modern Orthodox Theology in Greece" was held in Regensburg, Bavaria, between October 20 and 22, 2022. It was co-organized by the Institute for Eastern Churches of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Regensburg and the Volos Academy for Theological Studies.
The Conference began on the evening of October 20th with a formal dinner hosted by the local Roman Catholic Bishop Rudolf Voderholzer, who warmly welcomed the delegates. In the context of this ecumenical meeting, the bishop announced the prolongation for six more years of the term in office of the Director of the Institute, Dominican Rev. Dr. Dietmar Schon, and handed him the relevant document, expressing his congratulations to Fr. Schon for the fruitful and intensive activity of the Institute in its first six years (it was inaugurated in 2016). Among the works of the productive Fr. Schon, one must mention the first internationally monograph on the Document of the Ecumenical Patriarchate “For the life of the world”; while a second one highlighting the importance of this Document for Ecumenical dialogue is under publication.
In his greeting address, on the morning of October 21st, H.E. Metropolitan Ignatius of Demetrias, President of the Volos Academy for Theological Studies, offered a brief outline of the developments in modern Greek theology, which were to be examined all over the meeting. "The goal of the conference," His Eminence noted, "is to provide an up-to-date assessment of these developments, focusing on a wide range of topics ranging from canon law, political theology, patristic thought, and biblical studies, up to Ecumenism and the perspectives of modern Greek theology in the context of late modernity facing the challenges of our time".
In his greeting message, the Director of Volos Academy for Theological Studies, Dr. Pantelis Kalaitzidis, after pointing out that Volos Academy is internationally known for its focus on the relationship between Orthodoxy and Modernity, underlined the fact that part of this agenda is also the discussion on the renewal of Orthodox theology in the 20th century, the Greek theological generation of the 1960s, and also the encounter between Eastern and Western theology. He also mentioned the importance of co-organizing of the present colloquium for the understanding of the new and emerging trends in Greek or Greek-speaking theology, at an international level.
Bishop Rudolf Voderholzer delivered the first keynote speech on "Current challenges of the Catholic Church". Taking as starting point the debate in Germany about the so-called "synodal way", the bishop explained the way Roman Catholic theology understands the question of synodality and focused on the theological challenges arising from inquiries for renewal in the Church.
The keynote speech on behalf of the Orthodox side was given by His Eminence Metropolitan Gregorios of Cameroon (Patriarchate of Alexandria) on the topic "The Orthodox Mission in Africa through the Paradigm of the Holy Metropolis of Cameroon. Pastoral Problems of Ancient Societies in the Light of Modernity "
In the next session, his Eminence Metropolitan Grigorios (Papathomas) of Peristerion, professor of the Faculty of Theology at the University of Athens, as well as of the Institute of St. Sergius in Paris, and member of the Board of Directors of the Volos Academy, presented the topic " Canon Law: Greek Orthodox Contributions". Then, Dimitrios Moschos, professor of the Faculty of Theology at the University of Athens and also a member of the Board of Directors of Volos Academy, spoke on the relationship between political theory and Orthodox theology in modern Greece. Kristina Stoeckl, professor of the University of Innsbruck, introduced the topic "Orthodoxy and human rights". In the afternoon, professor Vassilios Makrides of Erfurt University presented the topic " Greek Orthodox Theology Addressing the Challenges of Modernity", while Anna-Theodora Valsamou (Balkanologist, MTh), associate of Volos Academy, presented the relation of Church and nation in Greek theology after 2000.
On the morning of October 22nd, Fr. Dietmar Schon OP spoke on "The Social Ethos Document of the Ecumenical Patriarchate". Then Dr. Nikolaos Asproulis, deputy director of Volos Academy, presented the topic "From Neo-Patristics to Post-Patristics: The Place and Role of the Fathers in Modern Greek Orthodox Theology". Georgios Vlantis, MTh, Director of the Council of Churches of Bavaria and research associate of Volos Academy, presented the topic "Ecumenism and the Greek-speaking Orthodoxy". The last presentation was done by Ekaterini Tsalambouni, Associate Professor of the Faculty of Theology at the University of Thessaloniki and member of the Board of Directors of Volos Academy, on the topic "The Role of Women in the Church: Impulses from Modern Greek Theology".
The volume with the texts of the presentations will be published in the near future, in English. Volos Academy and the Regensburg Institute of Eastern Churches are planning a second meeting, which will take place in Volos, Greece, in 2024.
Photos by Vlantis George