Synaxis of the Heads of All Orthodox Churches A Powerful Symbol of Unity by Fr. John Chryssavgis
The unity of the Church is a fragile gift, entrusted to us by God and embodied in the meeting of minds of Church leaders coming together in council to deliberate and in communion through liturgy. His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew recognizes the value and fragility alike of this divine gift, working from his position as “first among equals” to facilitate common celebration and common action. Admittedly, his delicate work of balance and coordination is not always appreciated. Nevertheless, on October 10, 2008, Orthodox Christians throughout the world witnessed the Heads of all Orthodox Churches assembling for the fifth time under the tenure of this Ecumenical Patriarch, who first established the hitherto unprecedented institution of the Synaxis. The latest Synaxis was held in Constantinople from Oct. 10 to 12, 2008, with Patriarchs and Archbishops meeting together, producing a common declaration (see below), and celebrating the Divine Liturgy in the Patriarchal Church of St. George. The Synaxis was chaired by the Ecumenical Patriarch, while the Hierarchs in attendance included the Patriarchs of Alexandria, Antioch, Jerusalem, and Moscow, as well as senior representatives from the Patriarchates of Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria and Georgia. Also present were the Archbishops of Cyprus and Athens, senior representatives from the Church of Poland, the Archbishops of Albania and Prague, as well as of Finland and Estonia. In his opening address, the Ecumenical Patriarch offered several recommendations for common action among the Hierarchs [see excerpts from his address below], most notably including the advancement of preparations for the Great Council of the Orthodox Church and the activation of the 1993 agreement of the Inter-Orthodox Consultation of the Holy and Great Council in order to resolve issues related to the Orthodox Diaspora. On Sunday morning, the Divine Liturgy was celebrated by all the above Hierarchs, together with the Metropolitans of Chalcedon and Kiev, as well as Archbishop Demetrios of America and Metropolitan Kyril of Estonia. The Divine Liturgy was followed by a Trisagion Service held at Baloukli Monastery in memory of all Ecumenical Patriarchs (who are buried there) and other Heads of Orthodox Churches who have passed away. The Synaxis meeting and celebration were powerful and visible symbols of unity for Orthodox leaders and their faithful all over the world. From the Address by His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew From the moment that, by God’s mercy, we assumed the reins of this First Throne among Churches, we have regarded it as our sacred obligation and duty to strengthen the bonds of love and unity of all those entrusted with the leadership of the local Orthodox Churches. Thus, in response also to the desire of other brothers serving as Heads, we took the initiative of convoking several occasions for Synaxis: first, in this City on the Sunday of Orthodoxy in 1992; then, on the sacred island of Patmos in 1995; and thereafter, we had the
Ecumenical Patriarch presides at the Synaxis in the Patriarchal Cathedral of St. George.
blessing of experiencing similar encounters and concelebrations in Jerusalem and the Phanar on the occasion of the beginning and end of the year 2000 as we entered this third millennium of the Lord’s era. Of course, these occasions for Synaxis do not comprise an “institution” by canonical standards. As known, the sacred Canons of our Church assign the supreme responsibility and authority for decisions on ecclesiastical matters to the Synodical system, wherein all hierarchs in active ministry participate either in rotation or in plenary. This canonical establishment is by no means substituted by the Synaxis of the Heads of Churches. Nevertheless, from time to time, such a Synaxis is deemed necessary and beneficial, especially in times like ours, when the personal encounter and conversation among responsible leaders in all public domains of human life is rendered increasingly accessible and essential. Therefore, the benefit gained from a personal encounter of the Heads of the Orthodox Churches can, with God’s grace, only prove immense. Church unity is not merely an internal
matter of the Church … because Church unity is inextricably linked with the unity of all humanity. The Church does not exist for itself but for all humankind and, still more broadly, for the whole of creation. Of course, the response commonly proffered to this question is that, despite administrational division, Orthodoxy remains united in faith, the Sacraments, etc. But is this sufficient? When before nonOrthodox we sometimes appear divided in theological dialogues and elsewhere; when we are unable to proceed to the realization of the long-heralded Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church; when we lack a unified voice on contemporary issues and, instead, convoke bilateral dialogues with non-Orthodox on these issues; when we fail to constitute a single Orthodox Church in the so-called Diaspora in accordance with the ecclesiological and canonical principles of our Church; how can we avoid the image of division in Orthodoxy, especially on the basis of non-theological, secular criteria? We need, then, greater unity in order to appear to those outside not as a federa-
The Divine Liturgy at the Synaxis; Vatican delegation visible to the right.
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tion of Churches but as one unified Church. Through the centuries, and especially after the Schism, when the Church of Rome ceased to be in communion with the Orthodox, this Throne was called – according to canonical order – to serve the unity of the Orthodox Church as its first Throne. And it fulfilled this responsibility through the ages by convoking an entire series of Panorthodox Councils on crucial ecclesiastical matters, always prepared, whenever duly approached, to render its assistance and support to troubled Orthodox Churches. In this way, a canonical order was created and, accordingly, the coordinating role of this Patriarchate guaranteed the unity of the Orthodox Church, without in the least damaging or diminishing the independence of the local autocephalous Churches by any interference in their internal affairs. This, in any case, is the healthy significance of the institution of autocephaly: while it assures the self-governance of each Church with regard to its internal life and organization, on matters affecting the entire Orthodox Church and its relations with those outside, each autocephalous Church does not act alone but in coordination with the rest of the Orthodox Churches. If this coordination either disappears or diminishes, then autocephaly becomes “autocephalism” (or radical independence), namely a factor of division rather than unity for the Orthodox Church. Therefore, dearly beloved brothers in the Lord, we are called to contribute in every possible way to the unity of the Orthodox Church, transcending every temptation of regionalism or nationalism so that we may act as a unified Church, as one canonically structured body. We do not, as during Byzantine times, have at our disposal a state factor that guaranteed – and sometimes even imposed – our unity. Nor does our ecclesiology permit any centralized authority that is able to impose unity from above. Our unity depends on our conscience. The sense of need and duty that we constitute a single canonical structure and body, one Church, is sufficient to
Synaxis of the Heads of All Orthodox Churches
guarantee our unity, without any external intervention. Proposals by His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew to the Heads of the Orthodox Churches To advance the preparations for the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church, already commenced through Panorthodox Pre-Conciliar Consultations. To activate the 1993 agreement of the Inter–Orthodox Consultation of the Holy and Great Council in order to resolve the pending matter of the Orthodox Diaspora. To strengthen by means of further theological support the decisions taken on a Panorthodox level regarding participation of the Orthodox Church in theological dialogues with non-Orthodox. To proclaim once again the vivid interest of the entire Orthodox Church for the crucial and urgent matter of protecting the natural environment, supporting on a Panorthodox level the relative initiative of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. To establish an Inter-Orthodox Committee for the study of matters arising today in the field of bioethics, on which the world justifiably also awaits the Orthodox position. Message of the Heads of the Orthodox Churches In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. 1. Through the Grace of God, the Primates and the Representatives of the local Orthodox Churches have gathered from 10-12 October, 2008, in the Phanar, at the invitation and under the presidency of the First among us, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, on the occasion of the proclamation of this year as the year of Saint Paul, Apostle to the Nations. We have deliberated in fraternal love on the issues that concern the Orthodox Church, and participating in the festivities of this occasion, we celebrated together the Holy Eucharist in the Most Sacred Patriarchal Church of the Ecumenical Throne, today, 12 October 2008, Sunday of the Holy Fathers of the 7th Ecumenical Council of Nicaea. During these days, we have been strengthened by the truth of the gifts of divine providence received by the Apostle to the Nations, which rendered him a superb “chosen vessel” (Acts 9:15) of God and a shining model of apostolic ministry for the body of the Church. The entire Orthodox Church is honoring this Apostle during the current year of the Lord, promoting him as an example to its faithful for a contemporary witness of our faith to “those near and those afar” (Eph. 2:17). 2. The Orthodox Church, having the understanding of the authentic interpretation of the teaching of the Apostle to the Nations, in both peaceful and difficult times of its two-thousand year historical course, can and must promote to the contemporary world the teaching not only regarding the restoration in Christ of the unity of the entire human race, but also regarding the universality of His work of redemption, through which all the divisions of the world are overcome and the common nature of all human beings is affirmed. Nevertheless, the faithful promotion of this message of redemption also presupposes overcoming the internal conflicts of the Orthodox Church through the surrendering of nationalistic, ethnic and ideological extremes of the past. For only in this way will the word of Orthodoxy have a necessary impact on the contemporary world.
The beginning of the Divine Liturgy with all the Primates.
3. Inspired by the teaching and the work of the Apostle Paul, we underscore first and foremost, the importance of the duty of Mission for the life of the Church, and in particular for the ministry of us all, in accordance with the final commandment of the Lord: “you will be my witnesses not only in Jerusalem, but throughout Judaea and Samaria, and to the uttermost parts of the earth” (Acts 1:8). The evangelization of God’s people, but also of those who do not believe in Christ, constitutes the supreme duty of the Church. This duty must not be fulfilled in an aggressive manner, or by various forms of proselytism, but with love, humility and respect for the identity of each individual and the cultural particularity of each people. All Orthodox Churches must contribute to this missionary effort, respecting the canonical order. 4. The Church of Christ today fulfills it ministry in a rapidly developing world, which has now become interconnected through means of communication and the development of means of transportation and technology. At the same time however, the extent of alienation, divisions and conflicts is also increasing. Christians emphasize that the source of this condition is the alienation of man from God. No change
in social structures or of rules of behavior suffices to heal this condition. The Church consistently points out that sin can only be conquered through the cooperation of God and humankind. 5. Under such circumstances, the contemporary witness of Orthodoxy for the ever-increasing problems of humanity and of the world becomes imperative, not only in order to point out their causes, but also in order to directly confront the tragic consequences that follow. The various nationalistic, ethnic, ideological and religious contrasts continuously nurture dangerous confusion, not only in regard to the unquestionable ontological unity of the human race, but also in regard to man’s relationship to sacred creation. The sacredness of the human person is constrained to partial claims for the “individual”, whereas his relationship toward the rest of sacred creation is subjected to his arbitrary use or abuse of it. These divisions of the world introduce an unjust inequality in the participation of individuals, or even peoples in the goods of Creation; they deprive billions of people of basic goods and lead to the misery for the human person; they cause mass population migration, kindle nationalistic,
Archbishop Demetrios greets Patriarch Alexey at the Phanar, escorting him to the Office of the Ecumenical Patriarch.
religious and social discrimination and conflict, threatening traditional internal societal coherence. These consequences are still more abhorrent because they are inextricably linked with the destruction of the natural environment and the entire ecosystem. 6. Orthodox Christians share responsibility for the contemporary crisis of this planet with other people, whether they are people of faith or not, because they have tolerated and indiscriminately compromised on extreme human choices, without credibly challenging these choices with the word of faith. Therefore, they also have a major obligation to contribute to overcoming the divisions of the world. The Christian teaching about the ontological unity between the human race and sacred creation, as expressed by the entire mystery of the redemptive work in Christ, constitutes the foundation for interpretation of man’s relationship with God and the world. 7. Efforts to distance religion from societal life constitute the common tendency of many modern states. The principle of a secular state can be preserved; however, it is unacceptable to interpret this principle as a radical marginalization of religion from all spheres of public life. 8. The gap between rich and poor is growing dramatically due to the financial crisis, usually the result of manic profiteering by economic factors and corrupt financial activity, which, by lacking an anthropological dimension and sensitivity, does not ultimately serve the real needs of mankind. A viable economy is that which combines efficacy with justice and social solidarity. 9. With regard to the issue of the relationship of Christian faith to the natural sciences, the Orthodox Church has avoided pursuing ownership of developing scientific research and assuming a position on every scientific question. From the Orthodox viewpoint, freedom of research constitutes a God-given gift to humanity. While affirming this however, at the same time Orthodoxy underscores the dangers concealed in certain scientific achievements, the limits of scientific knowledge,
Synaxis of the Heads of All Orthodox Churches
and the existence of another “knowledge” that does not immediately fall with the scope of science. This other “knowledge” proves in many ways to be necessary for establishing the proper boundaries of freedom, and utilizing the fruits of science by the restraint of egocentrism and respect for the value of the human person. 10. The Orthodox Church believes that technological and economic progress should not lead to the destruction of the environment and the exhaustion of natural resources. Greed to satisfy material desires leads to the impoverishment of the human soul and the environment. We must not forget that the natural riches of the earth are not only man’s property, but primarily God’s creation: “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and all who dwell therein” (Ps.23:1). We ought to remember that not only today’s generation, but also future generations are entitled to have a right to the resources of nature, which the Creator has granted us. 11. In firmly supporting every peaceful effort for just solutions to conflicts that arise, we salute the position of the Churches of Russia and Georgia and their fraternal cooperation during the period of recent military conflict. In this way, the two Churches fulfilled the obligation to the ministry of reconciliation. We hope that their mutual ecclesiastical efforts will contribute to overcoming the tragic consequences of military operations and the swift reconcilement of the peoples. 12. In the ever-growing confusion of our times, the institution of family and marriage faces a crisis. In a spirit of understanding the new complex social condition, the Church is obliged to find ways to spiritually support and generally encourage the young and large families. We turn our thoughts especially to the young people, in order to call them to actively participate both in the sacramental and sanctifying life, as well as in the missionary and social work of the Church, transferring their problems and their expectations to the Church, since they constitute not only its future, but also its present. 13. As Primates and the Representatives of the Most Holy Orthodox Churches, fully aware of the gravity of the aforementioned problems, and laboring to confront them directly as “servants of Christ and stewards of God’s mysteries” (1 Cor. 4:1), we proclaim from this See of the First-throne among the Churches and we re-affirm: • our unswerving position and obligation to safeguard the unity of the Orthodox Church in “the faith once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3), the faith of our Fathers, in the common Divine Eucharist and in the faithful observance of the canonical system of Church governance by settling any problems that arise from time to time in relations among us with a spirit of love and peace. • our desire for the swift healing of every canonical anomaly that has arisen from historical circumstances and pastoral requirements, such as in the so-called Orthodox Diaspora, with a view to overcoming every possible influence that is foreign to Orthodox ecclesiology. In this respect we welcome the proposal by the Ecumenical Patriarchate to convene Panorthodox Consultations within the coming year 2009 on this subject, as well as for the continuation of preparations for the Holy and Great Council. In accordance with the standing order and practice of the Panorthodox Consultations in Rhodes, it will invite all Autocephalous Churches. • our desire to continue, despite any difficulties, the theological dialogues with
Archbishop Chrysostomos of Cyprus (center) and other members of the delegations.
other Christians, as well as the interreligious dialogues, especially with Judaism and Islam, given that dialogue constitutes the only way of solving differences among people, especially in a time like today, when every kind of division, including those in the name of religion, threaten people’s peace and unity. • our support for the initiatives by the Ecumenical Patriarchate, as well as by other Orthodox Churches, for the protection of the natural environment. Today’s ecological crisis, which is due to both spiritual and ethical reasons, renders imperative the obligation of the Church to contribute through the spiritual means at her disposal, to the protection of God’s creation from the consequences of human greed. In this regard, we reaffirm the designation of the 1st of September, the first day of the Ecclesiastical Year, as the day of special prayers for the protection of God’ creation, and we support the introduction of the subject of the natural environment in the catechetical, homiletic, and general pastoral activity of our Churches, as this is already the case in some. • the decision to proceed with the
His All Holiness with the presenters of the Academic Pauline Symposium at the Church of St. Titus in Herakleion, Crete.
necessary actions, in order to form an Inter-Orthodox Committee to study issues of bioethics, on which the world also awaits the position of Orthodoxy. • Addressing these things to the Orthodox people throughout the world and to
Symposium participants at first session; note translator booths in background – all sessions were in Greek, Russian and English.
the entire oikoumene, we pray “again and again” that peace, justice, and God’s love may finally prevail in people’s lives. • “Glory be to him whose power, working in us, can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine, glory be to him in the Church and in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 3:20-21). Amen. In the Phanar, 12th October 2008. Bartholomew of Constantinople Theodore of Alexandria Ignatius of Antioch Theophilos of Jerusalem Alexey of Moscow Amphilochios of Montenegro (rep. the Church of Serbia) Laurentiu of Transylvania (rep. the Church of Romania) Dometiyan of Vidin (rep. the Church of Bulgaria) Gerasime of Zugdidi (rep. the Church of Georgia) Chrysostomos of Cyprus Ieronymos of Athens Jeremiasz of Wrocaw (rep. of the Church of Poland) Anastasios of Tirana Christopher of the Czech Lands and Slovakia
Synaxis of the Heads of All Orthodox Churches THE YEAR OF ST. PAUL: An Academic and Pastoral Symposium by Fr. John Chryssavgis
In his 2007 Christmas Encyclical, His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew proclaimed 2008 as a Year dedicated to St. Paul “in remembrance of his words and works, as well as in celebration of two millennia since his birth.” The year 8AD is conventionally estimated by scholars to be around the year of St. Paul’s birth. Two extraordinary and historical events were planned for the celebration: first, the Synaxis of the Heads of the Orthodox Churches, which met in Constantinople from October 10th to 12th, 2008, at the invitation of the Ecumenical Patriarch; and, second, again at the invitation of the Ecumenical Patriarch, a Pauline Symposium that traveled from October 11th to 16th, 2008, through cities of Turkey and Greece where St. Paul preached during his missionary journeys. Specifically organized within the context of the Year of St. Paul and within the ecclesiastical framework of – and as a scholarly offering to – the Synaxis, the Symposium drew recognized scholars from diverse Christian communions and numerous countries for a Symposium, officially opening in Constantinople (Istanbul) and proceeding through the cities of Smyrna, Ephesus, Perge and Antalya (in Asia Minor), as well as Lindos (Rhodes) and Kaloi Limenes (Crete), where it officially concluded. While the formal language of the Symposium was English, there was simultaneous Greek and Russian translation to cater to the Patriarchs and Hierarchs from all Orthodox Churches throughout the world. His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios of America was chairman of the academic committee, presiding over the sessions throughout the Symposium, while His Eminence Metropolitan Gennadios of Sassima was chairman of the organizing committee. The Ecumenical Patriarch led the Symposium, accompanied by the Patriarch of Alexandria, the Archbishop of Cyprus, the Archbishop of Athens, the Archbishop of Albania, and the Archbishop of Prague, as well as representatives from every Autocephalous and Autonomous Church, including the Patriarchates of Antioch, Jerusalem, Moscow, Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria, and Georgia, as well as the Churches of Poland, Finland and Estonia. The Roman Catholic Church was represented throughout by personal delegates of Pope Benedict XVI. Speakers included His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios (St. Paul as Apostle, Pastor and Theologian), Bishop Tom Wright of Durham (Eschatology in St. Paul), Prof. Petros Vasileiadis (Freedom in St. Paul), Prof. Christos Voulgaris (The Cosmic Dimensions of Christ’s Redemption), Prof. Helmut Koester (The Charismata of the Spirit), Prof. Karl Donfried (The Life “in Christ”), Prof. Brian Daley (Paul in the Fathers of the Church), Prof. Ioannis Karavidopoulos (Paul as Theological Bridge between East and West), V. Rev. Dr. Jacques Khalil (The Bishop in Paul’s Pastoral Letters), and Prof. Turid Karlsen Seim (Race and Gender in Paul). Session moderators included His Eminence Metropolitan Gennadios of Sassima, Prof. Christos Oikonomou, Prof. John Fotopoulos, and Rev. Dr. John Chryssavgis (who also served as secretary of the academic committee). The 90 participants of the Symposium
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Archbishop Demetrios, chairman of the Academic Symposium, opens the proceedings.
enjoyed the generous hospitality of the Ecumenical Patriarchate as they traveled through Turkey and Greece. In Ephesus and Perge, they received a guided tour by Prof. Helmut Koester of Harvard University (also a Symposium speaker), while the sessions in Rhodes were held at the very site of several historical Panorthodox consultations as well as the opening of the Official Theological Dialogue between the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Churches. Nothing could quite prepare the Patriarchs, hierarchs and delegates as they were welcomed in Crete by numerous faithful, who spontaneously lined the streets for miles with rose petals, palm leaves and incense. It is difficult to imagine the warm hospitality extended to the Patriarchs. Yet, Crete had never before witnessed as auspicious an hierarchical gathering as this; moreover, the Archbishop of Athens had not officially visited Crete for over 41 years. The Symposium proceedings were videotaped by the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America and, together with a formal publication of the major addresses, will soon be available to parishes and the general public. From the Opening Address by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew We offer praise and glory to the Trinitarian God for the spiritual banquet that lies before us and that we are blessed officially to open this afternoon following the successful conclusion this morning of an historical Synaxis, which has gathered the Heads of Autocephalous and Autonomous Orthodox Churches throughout the world in a powerful and symbolical affir-
mation of our unity in faith and commitment of purpose as Hierarchs entrusted with leadership of our Churches in the contemporary world. As we assembled here at the Ecumenical Patriarchate, in the Mother Church of Constantinople, we recognize that, truly, “our ministry overflows with many thanksgivings to God.” (2 Cor. 9.12). While St. Paul was not the author of systematic treatises, it is generally acknowledged that there is hardly an area of Christian theology or Pneumatology, of Christology or ecclesiology, of anthropology or soteriology, indeed of ethics or ecology, for which St. Paul did not sow the seeds in his “bold” proclamation of the Gospel. In order, then, to realize the allembracing importance and impact of this great Apostle, we have chosen to follow in the footsteps of his missionary journeys through key cities of Asia Minor and Greece. Over the next week, we will quite literally be walking and conversing with St. Paul, discerning his traces and discussing his concepts. And so, in scholarly and spiritual fellowship, we shall travel together from this City to Smyrna (one of the cities along St. Paul’s third missionary journey); to Ephesus (where St. Paul met “in the church in the house” of Prisca and Aquila, those “who risked their necks for his life” [cf. Rom. 16.3-5]; it is in Ephesus where Paul also preached that “gods made by human hands are no gods at all” [Acts 19.26]); and to Attaleia (the ancient Roman port where St. Paul preached the Gospel and then set sail to Antioch [cf. Acts
His All Holiness, Patriarch Theodoros of Alexandria and Archbishop Anastasios of Tirana (Albania) around the Altar of the Church of St. John the Theologian at the archaeological site of ancient Ephesus.
14.25]), as well as to Rhodes (where an entire bay is named after the great Apostle, who landed there toward the middle of the first century); and Crete (where Paul left Titus to serve as first bishop). We can only be in eternal awe of St. Paul’s remarkable endurance and perilous travels. St. Paul is justifiably considered the theologian of unity and of freedom alike. For, while he perceived the crucial distinction between unity and uniformity, he also professed the critical value of openness or freedom, affirming diversity and discerning the joy of Christ in “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, wherever there is excellence and anything worthy of praise.” (Phil. 4.8) In its catholicity, the Orthodox Church is truly and profoundly “ecumenical.” Nevertheless, this catholicity or ecumenicity is not “universal” – in the etymological sense of the word (from the Latin “tending toward oneness”), in the literal sense of drawing all things to unilateral homogeneity. This, as we underlined yesterday to our brother Bishops during the Hierarchal Synaxis, is the crucial basis of and essential criterion for Paul’s passionate plea for Church unity “in the same mind and purpose.” (1 Cor. 1.10) Nevertheless, at the same time, St. Paul prefers to emphasize “conformity” to the Body of Christ – “until Christ is formed in you” (Gal. 4.19) – rather than “uniformity” in accordance with certain ethical prescriptions. This is a unity that can only be realized in dialogue and collegiality, not in any universal imposition of opinion or doctrine. From the Closing Address by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew In the Church of St. Titus the Apostle, first Bishop of Crete appointed by St. Paul. We praise and glorify the Name of the Trinitarian God for this abundantly rich and equally enriching Symposium that has, with His grace and blessing, finally come to a close. Here, on the historical island of Crete, our spiritual banquet has safely reached the beautiful waters of the “fair havens” (the Kaloi Loimenes), the very place that St. Paul visited some two thousand years ago. In many ways, over the past days, we have gained unique insights into the perilous travels and profound preaching of St. Paul. It has been an exhausting and yet also an inspiring excursion. Together with the most reverend Patriarchs and Hierarchs, as well as the esteemed professors, we have walked in pilgrimage through the living ruins of Ephesus and Perge; and we have joined in celebration with the living communities of Rhodes and Crete. Together, clergy and theologians, we have experienced nothing less than an unprecedented spiritual and intellectual banquet. Together, therefore, we openly confess with St. John Chrysostom – as we heard during the opening session of our Symposium – that “we have witnessed the dust of St. Paul’s feet, which ran through the world, yet were not tired … which went through places populated and uninhabited, which walked on so many journeys.” (Homily on the Letter to the Romans 32, PG 60.678-80)
Published on Jun 19, 2009