Bishop Irinej panelist at The University of Sydney simposium: ”Thou shalt not kill…?”
(SYDNEY) On Saturday, 11 October 2008, His Grace Bishop Irinej of Australia and New Zealand participated in an astute academic gathering at the International House of the University of Sydney, sponsored by the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies. This enlightening symposium was chaired by Associate Professor Jake Lynch, a renowned journalist and accomplished author. This distinguished conference was well attended by university professors and students, international professionals and prominent members of the communities of faith.
The first panel featured two keynote addresses: one by Dr. Ken Macnab, President of the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, on "Religion, Peace and War during the Last Millennium: Europe and Beyond", and the other by the Rev. Dr. Jonathan Inkpin, General Secretary of the NSW Ecumenical Council, on "Religious Addictions to Violence and Possible Antidotes". These two initial presentations were followed by respondents: Dr. Marion Maddox, Associate Professor and Director of the Centre for Research on Social Inclusion at Macquarie University, concerning "Reflections on Religion and Politics in Australia" and His Grace Bishop Irinej, who spoke of the peace-making endeavours and democratic initiatives of the Serbian Orthodox Church during the course of and following the recent series of civil wars in the Former Yugoslavia in a presentation titled: "The Balkan Lesson: From Patrology to Practicum".
In his comments, Bishop Irinej addressed the role of the Serbian Orthodox Church in national self-determination and regional integration in the Balkans; the traditional role of the Orthodox Church in conflict resolution as a trusted source of moral authority with internationally acceptable implications in the fostering of enduring peace and security. The Bishop provided his listeners with a broad historical overview of the patristic paradigm in the understanding of war in terms of faith, passivism and engagement, beginning with the early Church Fathers: from St. Justin the Martyr to Tertullian, to the Canons of St. Hyppolitus, and from the understanding of Augustinian thought to the commentaries of Sts. Basil the Great and Clement of Alexandria.
The bishop delved into a detailed explanation from His Holiness Patriarch Pavle on the tragic complications of a civil war which compared to any other war, "turns Cain against Abel", i.e. brother against brother. He deemed one of the most troublesome aspect of any contemporary war that of the "media dimension" with its overt simplifications and deliberate brandishing of good and evil. Concluding his presentation, Bishop Irinej questioned international arbitration with its inapplicable global imposition of Western modes of civil society; and the inability of the West to discern acceptable patriotism, or true nationalism which is "of the people" from blind, self-serving nationalism which, as understood through the prism of Enlightenment and post-French Revolution terms, is condemned by the Orthodox Church as "phyletism".
The day-long symposium continued with the presentations of three additional panels and their featured guest speakers.