The third online lecture of the "Time for Action" series of Volos Academy for Theological Studies was successfully held on Thursday, March 4, 2021. The speaker was Rev. Dr. Emmanuel Clapsis, former Professor at the Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology, who presented the topic "The Witness of the Church in the Public Sphere in the Shadow of the Pandemic." The lecture was delivered through the Zoom platform and was attended by many listeners from all over Greece and abroad. The event was coordinated by Dr. Angeliki Ziaka, Associate Professor, Faculty of Theology, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, and Member of the Board of Directors, Volos Academy for Theological Studies. The lecture is already available at the Volos Academy YouTube channel (in Greek).
"The world after the pandemic has changed significantly," said Rev. Dr. Clapsis. "More than two million people have died because of the virus. The pandemic unexpectedly brought to the fore the vulnerability of human nature, the political system's inability to protect citizens' health in a timely and effective manner, and the underlying major social and political problems of social inequality, poverty, and intolerance, and lack of solidarity in international level. Despite vaccines' discovery, the pandemic's effects will continue to create a complex web of interdependent social problems. Certainly, those who will pay the pandemic's cost with their blood will be the developing countries, the small businessmen, the poorer, and the generally vulnerable social classes. The problems that arise are impossible to address by individual states, religions, and cultural communities. The Orthodox Church at the Holy and Great Council (2016) recognized the need to encourage dialogue and cooperation of all those who work for peace and ‘pave the way for justice, brotherhood, true freedom and mutual love among all children of the heavenly Father and of all the peoples that make up the one human family.’ Dialogue in civil society contributes to developing mutual trust, reconciliation, and peace between cultural and religious communities in a pluralistic society. But is the Church familiar with the art of dialogue? Does it respect the ‘other’ in his otherness? The Church needs to understand, to all possible extends, the dynamics of modern pluralistic and multicultural society. The conversation with the social and political sciences would provide the Church with the necessary analytical tools to better understand social dynamics. [...] Orthodoxy speaks more about God's love and less about His justice. It should not express only God's charity but also be the bearer of His righteousness. Although almsgiving alleviates the immediate needs of suffering people, it does not eliminate the causes of social injustice and perpetuates asymmetric relationships of dependence. We have learned from liberation theologies that theological thought should be guided by the diagnosis of oppressive and unjust social structures and traditions and the active identification of theology with history victims. The connection of charity with divine justice decisively defines the political witness of the Church in the public sphere."
Among the prominent personalities who attended the lecture by Rev. Dr. Emmanuel Clapsis were the Metropolitan of Demetrias Ignatius (Georgakopoulos), the Metropolitan of Nigeria Alexandros (Gianniris), the Archdeacon of the Ecumenical Patriarchate John Chryssavgis, Prof. Paschalis Kitromilidis, Member of Athens Academy, university professors Petros Vassiliadis, Emmanouil Perselis, Christos Karakolis, Tryfon Tsombanis, Vasiliki Stathokosta, Stavros Yangazoglou, and Charalambos Ventis, Rev. Dr. Dimitrios Bathrelos, Visiting Professor at the Institute for Orthodox Christian Studies of Cambridge and Member of the Board of Directors of Volos Academy, the Executive Secretary for the theological dialogue of the Conference of European Churches Katerina Pekridou, members of the Board of the Greek Theological Association for the improvement of the religious education "Kairos", etc.
Rev. Dr. Emmanuel Clapsis was Archbishop Iakovos Professor of Orthodox Theology at the Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology (1985-2020). His main academic interests include Ecclesiology, Ecumenism, the Public Presence of Orthodoxy in the pluralistic society, etc. Rev. Dr. Clapsis served as Dean of the Hellenic College and Holy Cross, the Greek Orthodox School of Theology in Boston. He was active in the Ecumenical Movement, participating in many bilateral dialogues. He also served as the Vice President of the "Faith and Order" Committee of the World Council of Churches, and he was a member of the World Council of Churches Advocacy Group against violence. He is the author of numerous articles and the books: "Orthodoxy in Dialogue," "Orthodoxy in the New World," and editor of the collected volumes "Orthodoxy in a Pluralistic World" and "Violence and Spirituality," which include articles from international conferences he convened in Boston and are published by the World Council of Churches.
To see the next lectures in the program, click here.