Two events that took place last days highlight the close ties of the Metropolis of Demetrias and the Volos Academy for Theological Studies with the Orthodox world of Estonia.
On Sunday, January 14, 2024, memory day of the martyr Saint Platon, the first Bishop of Tallinn before the cession of the Autonomy of the Church of Estonia by the Ecumenical Patriarchate, His Eminence Ignatius, Metropolitan of Demetrias and Almyros concelebrated with His Eminence Stefanos, Metropolitan of Tallinn and all Estonia, as well as with His Eminence Grigorios, Metropolitan of Peristeri (Athens), in the Holy Church of St Simeon and St Anna in Tallinn, Estonia. At the conclusion of the Divine Liturgy, Metropolitan Ignatius awarded Metropolitan Stefanos the Grand Cross, the Highest Distinction of the Metropolis of Demetrias, along with an honorary diploma. The event was also attended by the Director of the Volos Academy for Theological Studies, Dr. Pantelis Kalaitzidis.
As Metropolitan Ignatius pointed out in his address, “His Eminence Stefanos constantly offers a witness to the Crucified and Risen Christ, as he speaks of Orthodoxy and its need to get into a fruitful dialogue with the challenges of the modern world, as well as its need to respond pastorally to the existential questions of post-modernity, always having his mind focused on the inter-Christian unity.” Metropolitan Ignatius emphasized the importance of the work of Metropolitan Stefanos for the strengthening of Orthodoxy in Estonia, the unity of the Orthodox and the recognition of the Autonomy of the Orthodox Church in Estonia, as well as his efforts on interreligious dialogue, on the pastoral treatment of migrants, and on the interaction of Orthodoxy with the local culture.
In his reply, His Eminence Stefanos, after thanking the delegation of the Metropolis of Demetrias for the honour made to him, pointed out that he has tried to function as a “servant” and “deacon” of Christ throughout his ministry in the Church, setting the unity of the Church and the needs of the congregation as his highest priority. He also mentioned the difficulties he faced while trying to reconstitute the Autonomous Orthodox Church of Estonia. In his turn, Metropolitan Stefanos awarded the Metropolitan of Demetrias and the Director of the Volos Academy with the Award of St Platon (an official distinction of the Orthodox Church of Estonia recognised by the Republic of Estonia) and with honorary diplomas, for their assistance in the work of the Metropolis of Tallinn, its Theological Institute and the Orthodox Theology Program at the University of Tartu.
The next day of the visit to Estonia, Monday January 15, the Director of Volos Academy for Theological Studies, Dr. Pantelis Kalaitzidis, gave a lecture on the topic “Orthodox Political Theology between neo-imperial illusions and contemporary challenges” at the University of Tartu.
In his speech, Pantelis Kalaitzidis, analyzed the Trinitarian, Christological and Eucharistic basis of Orthodox political theology, and highlighted its eschatological dimension and its “not of this world” character. He referred to the alienation of these concepts due to the replacement of the eschatological anticipation with the vindication within history and the change of the Church as a scheme and a power of this age, and also through the veneration of the imperial idea of “symphonia” and the sanctification of the various nations, which ultimately resulted in the heresy of ethnophyletism, the balkanization and the political instrumentalization of Orthodoxy. As an extreme example of such trends, Pantelis Kalaitzidis mentioned the teaching of the "Russian world", which is propagated by the Russian Church in “symphonia” with the Putin regime and which provides the ideological foundation of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. He described the effort to rebuke this teaching through the relevant "Declaration" of Orthodox theologians (here: http://tinyurl.com/3xze5vjx, http://tinyurl.com/mr3un4ap ) signed by over 1500 academic theologians and church personalities, and which formed the basis for further actions of the Orthodox clergy in Ukraine but also at the highest level, in the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
The University of Tartu co-organizes, together with Volos Academy and the Orthodox Church of Estonia, the Study Programme “The Orthodox Church and Contemporary Challenges”, which examines burning contemporary issues that concern both the Orthodox and the Western world. The classes of this programme started last September and will continue until June 2024, with well-known Orthodox theologians from all over the world as teachers. Details are given at the link http://tinyurl.com/3cdnybhk.