with his Reception as Fellow and Honorary Member
of the Volos Academy for Theological Studies of Volos
An International Conference, which was held at the "Thessalia" Conference Center in Melissatika, Volos, on Friday 3 and Saturday 4 November 2023, was successfully concluded with the awarding of the Professor Emeritus of Political Science of the University of Athens and Full Member of the Academy of Athens Paschalis M. Kitromilides and his reception as Fellow and Honorary Member of the Volos Academy for Theological Studies of Volos. The general theme of the Conference was "Cultural Geography in Modern Times: Modern Greek Enlightenment, Nationalism and the Orthodox Church," and attempted to carry out a scientific assessment of the work and research contribution of the honored Professor.
In the first session, chaired by the Director of the Volos Academy, Dr. Pantelis Kalaitzidis, the proceedings of the conference began with the talk by Dr. Gonda Van Steen (Director of the Centre for Hellenic Studies, King's College, London) who analyzed the contribution of Paschalis Kitromilides to the study of Modern Hellenism, emphasizing the important steps of his career and his recent books, as well as the various important occasions where he has been honored. The next speaker, Dr. Vassilios K. Gounaris (Professor of Modern History, Department of History and Archeology, University of Thessaloniki) highlighted Paschalis Kitromilides’ contribution to the understanding of Balkans, as they were shaped after the 17th century, identifying the parameters of the formation of Balkan thought and mentality, in relation both to the Orthodox faith and the challenge of Western modernization. In the next session, chaired by Dr. Vasiliki Yiakoumaki (Assistant Professor of Social Anthropology at the University of Thessaly), Dr. Dimitris Moschos (Professor of Ecclesiastical History, Department of Theology, University of Athens, President of the same Department) explained how Paschalis Kitromilides, by expanding the research of the Modern Greek Enlightenment, contributed to a more complete account of the recent history of the Orthodox Church and of Christianity in general. Based on personal experiences and meetings, Dr. Athanasios N. Papathanassiou (Associate Professor of Mission, Higher Ecclesiastical Academy of Athens, Editor-in-Chief of the journal "Synaxi") described Paschalis Kitromilides’ point of view as a source of inspiration, for the realization of Christian interculturalism, still a demand for both the nature and the mission of the Church.
In the first Saturday morning session, chaired by Dr. Jordan Jorgji (Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Humanities, Member of the Council of Fan S. Noli University, Korçë, Albania), Dr. Petros Papapolyviou (Associate Professor, Department of History and Archaeology, and Dean of Faculty of Philosophy at the University of Cyprus), spoke about the studies of Paschalis M. Kitromilides on the history of Cyprus until the proclamation of the independence of the Republic of Cyprus (1960), analyzing both the relations of Cyprus with Athens and the great powers, as well as the footprint of the family background of the honored professor in his historiographical work. In this same light, Dr. Ioannis D. Stefanidis (Professor of Diplomatic History, Faculty of Law, University of Thessaloniki) analyzed the courage of Paschalis Kitromilides to propose an alternative view to the approaches of the Cyprus problem, introducing as new elements the role of ideas, the importance of nationalism and the understanding of the variety of dynamics, developed inside and outside of Cyprus. Dr. Aikaterini Boura (PhD in History, Honorary Ambassador) spoke about the presence of Kitromilides at the Center for Asia Minor Studies, presenting both the beginning and the earliest history of the Center, from the time of the Asia Minor Catastrophe, as well as the important systematization steps carried out under his direction. In the next session, chaired by Dr. Ioanna Laliotou (Associate Professor of History at the University of Thessaly), Dr. Nikos Kouremenos (PhD in Coptic Studies, Academic Associate of the Volos Academy for Theological Studies) spoke about the Orthodox Commonwealth, a concept that Paschalis Kitromilides used to define the territory of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in the Ottoman era, as well as the temptation of nationalism in the 19th century but also the return of the Patriarchate to ecumenism after the Asia Minor Catastrophe. Next speaker Dr. Ioannis Karras (Associate Professor, University of Macedonia) analyzed the relations between Orthodoxy, Enlightenment and Empire in the work of Paschalis Kitromilides, as a continuation of Byzantium but also through the interventions of the Russian Empire in the Balkans during the last centuries. At the end of the morning session, in his intervention Dr. Nikos Alivizatos (Professor Emeritus, Faculty of Law, University of Athens) reflected on Kitromilides’ study of the relationship between the ideological hardening of society and elites on the one hand and the establishment of liberal constitutions on the other during the Greek 19th century.
The first afternoon session, chaired by Dr. Michalis Zoumboulakis (Professor of the Department of Economics of the University of Thessaly), began with Dr. Christoforos Charalambakis (Emeritus Professor of Linguistics at the University of Athens and Member of the Academy of Athens), who analyzed the language of the texts of Paschalis Kitromilides, characterizing him as a skillful user of Modern Greek, which he inoculates with vocabulary from his oral tradition, creating thus his own style. Then, Dr. Periclis Vallianos (Professor Emeritus of Political Philosophy, University of Athens) spoke about Kitromilides as a scholar of the political thought of modernity, who introduced into the Greek intellectual debate fundamental ideas and arguments of European political thought from the Renaissance onwards, offering exemplary translations and interpretations. Dr. Grigoris Molyvas (Professor of Political Theory, Department of Political Science and Public Administration, University of Athens) spoke respectively about hermeneutical renewal and social criticism, presenting the constructive contribution of Paschalis Kitromilides to the "adventurous" world of political science, analyzing the relationship between secular and religious elements in relation to the phenomenon of modernity, the enriched reception of Liberalism and mainly its methodological concerns. In the last session, chaired by Dr. Dimitrios Moschos (President and Professor of the Department of Theology, University of Athens), Theodora Valsamou (Scientific Assistant of the Volos Academy) read the text of the absent Roxani D. Argyropoulou (Honorary Research Director, National Hellenic Research Foundation) on Paschalis M. Kitromilides’ contribution to study of the Modern Greek Enlightenment, which managed to bring to the light the innate problems of Greek political life as well as the wider social and ideological particularities of this area. Dr. Kostas Androulidakis (Professor of Philosophy, University of Crete) presented the philosophy of religion of Adamantios Korais as a central axis connecting Modern Greek Enlightenment with religion, focusing on the points where Korais agreed or disagreed with the religious establishment of Orthodoxy in the early 19th century. Finally, Dr. Konstantinos T. Petsios (Professor of History of Philosophy, University of Ioannina) spoke about the theoretical contribution of Paschal Kitromilides to the study of the history and anthropo-geography of Modern Greek Enlightenment, the currents of thought that determined the cultural changes in the field of social attitudes and the research contribution of Paschalis Kitromilides, who broadened the horizon of the interpretation of the intellectual premises of Modern Greek philosophy.
The Conference concluded with the reception of Paschalis M. Kitromilides as Fellow and Honorary Member of the Volos Academy for Theological Studies. The honorary event started with the Greeting of His All Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, who after reminding that the honored professor has received from 2018 the offikionof Archon Great Referendarius of the Great Church of Christ (Ecumenical Patriarchate), then emphasized the prominence of the witness of the Great Church of Christ of Constantinople in view of the challenges of secular modernity through the work of Paschalis M. Kitromilides. This was followed by the Greeting of His Eminence the Metropolitan of Demetrias and Almyros Ignatius, who after reminding that the Volos Academy for Theological Studies had previously welcomed as its Fellows two prominent figures of contemporary Orthodox theology, the late Metropolitan of Pergamon John D. Zizioulas, Member of the Academy of Athens and Professor of several European universities (October 2011), and the late Metropolitan of Diokleia Kallistos Ware of the University of Oxford (November 2015), then he praised not only the academic achievements but also the Christian ethos of the honored professor, considering it an extraordinary honor on the side of Professor Paschalis M. Kitromilides to accept the invitation to be received as Fellow and honorary member of the Volos Academy.
Following the Greetings, Dr. Pantelis Kalaitzidis (Director of the Volos Academy for Theological Studies) delivered the Academic Laudatio in honor of Paschalis M. Kitromilides, underlining the reasons why the Volos Academy decided to honor the person and acknowledge the importance of the work of Paschalis M. Kitromilides. Among these reasons are the positive evaluation of the role of the Orthodox Church in spreading the ideas of the Enlightenment, the non-ethnocentric approach of the history of the Orthodox Church during post-Byzantine period, the emphasis on the antinomy between nationalism and the Orthodox Church, the dialogue of theology with the historical and social/political sciences, elements that constantly characterize the work of Professor Kitromilides as well as the special ties that developed over time with the participation of the honored professor in many conferences of the Volos Academy.
This was followed by the awarding of the Grand Cross and Honorary Diploma of the Volos Academy for Theological Studies to Professor Emeritus and Member of the Academy of Athens Dr. Paschalis M. Kitromilides by H.E. Metropolitan Ignatius of Demetrias and Dr. Pantelis Kalaitzidis, while the event closed with the key-note speech of the honored Professor on the dialogue between Orthodoxy and secular education as an exercise in self-awareness par excellence. Paschalis M. Kitromilides referred to the need to educate religious mentality which is mainly realized through the dialogue with secular education. He also pointed out the dangers inherent in the absence of such a dialogue, as it opens the way to introversion and fundamentalism. According to the honored professor, a typical example of the achievements of this dialogue is the encounter between Christianity and Hellenism as originally captured by the Fathers of the 4 th century and continued throughout the Byzantine millennium in the East but also during Middle Ages in the West, whose tradition should not be forgotten. He then referred to the role of the Orthodox Church in the preservation of the Greek Paideia during the period of the Ottoman rule and the attempts to renew it through the philosophical education that were attempted both with the neo-Aristotelianism of Theophilos Korydalleus and with the questioning of this model by the representatives of Modern Greek Enlightenment. Concluding his speech, Paschalis M. Kitromilides referred to the negative effects for the Orthodox Church from the prevalence of nationalism, as an outcome of the national awakening brought about by the Enlightenment, which he summarized as manifestations of introversion and exclusivity that distort the ecumenical values of the genuine Christian message. According to Kitromilides an overcoming of these problems, will come again through education and dialogue, so that the ecumenical values of peace and respect for human rights are not just a fleeting expectation but a tangible reality.
The video recordings of the proceedings of the Conference (in Greek) will soon be posted on the YouTube channel of the Volos Academy for Theological Studies, while the proceedings of the Conference are expected to be published in a book in the near future.
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