The International Conference in Honor of the Metropolitan of Pergamon John Zizioulas Concludes
From 28-30 October, the Volos Academy for Theological Studies held the first international conference and honorary event entitled "Metropolitan of Pergamon John Zizioulas: Person, Eucharist, and the Kingdom of God in Orthodox and Ecumenical Perspective." The conference, as well as the entire honorary event, were broadcast live on the internet TV channel intv.gr .
In the first afternoon session of the conference’s first day, after brief remarks by the Director of the Academy, Dr. Pantelis Kalaitzidis, N. Asproulis (M.Th., Academic Collaborator of the Academy and the journal Theologia) presented the first paper on "The Neo-Patristic Method of Metropolitan of Pergamon John Zizioulas: From Fr. Georges Florovsky to the Theological Generation of the '60s." In his address, the speaker presented some of the primary aspects of Metropolitan John’s neo-patristic methodology (e.g., ontology, the existential nature of theology, the Eucharist, etc.), looking for precursors or intermediary influences in individual theologians, such as his teachers Paul Tillich and Fr. George Florovsky, as well as Vl. Lossky, Fr. John Romanides, and C. Yannaras.
Dr K. Agoras, Assistant Professor at the Hellenic Open University, spoke, ultimately, on "References to the Theological Hermeneutic of the Metropolitan of Pergamon John Zizioulas," attempting to articulate a position on theological knowledge in general, not only of God but of man and the world, on the basis of the multidimensional work of the Metropolitan of Pergamon and with special reference to his programmatic text "The Eucharistic View of the World and Modern Man"(1967).
In the second afternoon session, the first speaker was Dr K. Deliconstantis, Professor of the Theological School of the University of Athens, on "Ascesis and Freedom: The Ascetic Ethos in the Theology of Metropolitan of Pergamon John Zizioulas." The speaker attempted to link freedom and ascesis as the quintessential mode of existence and life for the human person in history, a mode that is not exclusive to the monastic life, but rather to which every man is called in his struggle against evil.
Dr Aikaterini Tsalampouni, Lecturer at the Theological Faculty of the University of Thessaloniki, presented her paper on "The Ecological Dimension of the Theology of Metropolitan John Zizioulas.” With the recent major ecological disasters as a background (e.g., Fukushima), the speaker discussed the multifaceted contribution of the Orthodox Church and particularly the Ecumenical Patriarchate in addressing the ecological problem. Presenting the work of the Metropolitan of Pergamon, she noted his active participation in international conferences on the ecological problem, highlighting some aspects of his eco-theological thought (e.g., his central idea about man as priest of creation).
The final speaker of the conference’s first day was Dr E. Papagiannopoulos, Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the University of Piraeus, who spoke about “Ontology, Metaphysics, and Eschatology in John Zizioulas.” In his presentation, the speaker explored the ambiguous relationship between the Metropolitan of Pergamon’s theology and modern philosophy, especially that which is nourished by Heidegger and the Biblical tradition.
In the first morning session of the conference’s second day, Dr H. Ventis, Academic Collaborator of the Volos Academy for Theological Studies, focused on different aspects of the Metropolitan of Pergamon’s thought, such as, for example, non-essentialist ontology, inclusive and non-deterministic eschatology, and the issue of the non-falsifiability of religious faith.
Dr Michel Stavrou, Professor at St. Sergius Institute in Paris, spoke on "The Theology of the Person in John Zizioulas and Vladimir Lossky.” Through a comparative analysis of the thought of the two great theologians, the speaker demonstrated their agreement on the fact that consciousness belongs to the level of the natural order and not the personal. He also highlighted the potentially different emphasis of each on the question on the relationship between the One and the Many.
Dr S. Yangazoglou, Advisor at the Pedagogical Institute, Instructor at the Hellenic Open University, and Director of the journal Theologia, spoke on “The Pneumatological Christology of Metropolitan of Pergamon John Zizioulas," attempting to highlight Zizioulas’s contribution—in response to some of the extreme views in East and West (pneumatomonistic and Christomonistic tendencies)—to the synthesis of Christology and Pneumatology and individual theological and pastoral dimensions and implications of this synthesis.
In the second morning session, Rev Dr Dimitios Bathrellos, Instructor at the Hellenic Open University, Visiting Lecturer at the Orthodox Institute at Cambridge, and Member of the Board of Directors of the Volos Academy for Theological Studies, spoke on “The Position of the Bishop in the Ecclesiology of John Zizioulas.” After outlining the basic contours of the Metropolitan’s theology concerning the bishop, the speaker addressed modern distortions and problems in the conciliar institution, the election of bishops, and the role of the laity in the administration of the Church, with particular emphasis on the situation in the Church of Greece.
The Grand Archdeacon Maximos, PhD. (Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople) spoke about "The Eucharistic Ecclesiology of Metropolitan of Pergamon John Zizioulas and the Question of Primacy," presenting different aspects of the honored prelate’s contribution (the Trinitarian foundation of eucharistic ecclesiology based on the hierarchical order and structure of the Holy Trinity and, thus, the function of primacy).
In the first afternoon session, His Grace Bishop of Branicevo Ignatije Midic, ThD (Patriarchate of Serbia), Professor of Theology at the University of Belgrade, spoke on "Eucharist and Kingdom: The Iconic Realism of Worship in Maximos the Confessor and Metropolitan of Pergamon John Zizioulas," in which he highlighted the importance of the Metropolitan’s reinterpretation of the realism of the eschatological understanding of the Divine Liturgy by the great Father of the Church, St. Maximos the Confessor.
Dr P. Vassiliadis, Professor of the Theological Faculty at the University of Thessaloniki, in his presentation on "The Eschatological Understanding of the Church in the Thought of the Metropolitan of Pergamon," presented key aspects of eschatology as shown in the work of the Metropolitan of Pergamon, and particularly in his understanding of the Church.
In the last session, His Grace Bishop of Western America Maxim Vasiljevic, ThD (Patriarchate of Serbia), Professor of the Theological School of University of Belgrade, spoke on "Gender, Person, and Otherness in the Theology of Metropolitan of Pergamon John Zizioulas." Attempting a critical analysis of the otherness of gender in the ontological perspective of Eastern Orthodox theology, the speaker tried to present the ecclesiological and patristic views on the theological conception of gender, investigating the relationship between society and otherness, and raising questions about the ontology of gender in the framework of the Metropolitan of Pergamon’s theology.
Finally, Dr Aristotle Papanikolaou, Associate Professor, Co-Founder and Director of the program for Orthodox Studies at Fordham University (New York), developed the theme "Personhood and Confession: Truth-Telling as a Hypostatic Event. The legacy of the theology of Metropolitan of Pergamon John Zizioulas." Analyzing what was, for him, the most important idea in the Metropolitan of Pergamon’s theology, viz. his conception of the person as relationally hypostatic and ecstatic event, the speaker attempted to clarify, through empirical examples (such as war veterans with post-traumatic stress syndrome), how that person can express the truth as a personal event. He also explored contemporary Orthodox theology’s need to formulate an asceticism of the person in order to realize his uniqueness and freedom.
At the end of the academic conference, His Eminence Metropolitan John of Pergamon was inducted as a Fellow of the Academy for Theological Studies before a large audience in the auditorium of the "Thessalia" conference center. After a rendition of Byzantine hymns by the choir of chanters "Saint John Koukouzeles," greetings were read from: 1. Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew (in greek, by his representative Archimandrite Bartholomew Samaras, Chief Secretary of the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate), arxigram.jpg2. Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Hieronymos (by the Bishop of Velestinos, Damaskinos), 3. Dean of the Theological Faculty of the University of Athens, Dr M. Begzos (in greek , by Fr. Christos Hachamidis, a member of the Board of the Academy for Theological Studies), 4. Dean of the Theological Faculty of the University of Thessaloniki Dr M. Tritos, (in greek , by Associate Professor of the School Dr Anna Koltsiou-Nikita).
Metropolitan of Demetrias Ignatios then spoke about "The Metropolitan of Pergamon as an Ecclesiastical and Theological Personality," which concisely presented the multifarious aspects of the work of the honored hierarch. pergam_(6).jpgThis was immediately followed by the academic laudatio in honor of His Eminence Metropolitan John of Pergamon, which was delivered by the Director of the Volos Academy for Theological Studies, Dr. Pantelis Kalaitzidis, and which highlighted the academic career and the main contours of the theological thought of the honored prelate and theologian. The Metropolitan of Pergamon was then awarded the Grand Cross and an honorary diploma by the Metropolitan of Demetrias Ignatios and the Director of the Academy, respectively.
This was followed by the keynote speech of the Metropolitan of Pergamon on "Orthodox Theology and the Challenges of the 21st Century," in which the honored prelate gave an account of his humble contribution to Orthodox theology, and briefly presented various challenges facing Orthodox theology in the 21st century (e.g., technology, ethics, dialogue with contemporary Western culture and science, etc.).
The honorary event concluded with the singing of "Many Years" to His Eminence Metropolitan John of Pergamon.
On Sunday, a Hierarchical Liturgy was celebrated at the Church of the Ascension of Christ, at the end of which the Metropolitan of Pergamon was award the "Golden Cross," the highest distinction of the Metropolis of Demetrias.
The conference and honorary event attracted large crowds, and the whole event was particularly fortunate to enjoy the presence of: the Very Reverend Archimandrite Bartholomew Samaras, Chief Secretary of the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, as the representative of His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew; His Grace Bishop of Velestinos Damaskinos, as the representative of His Beatitude Archbishop of Athens Hieronymos; His Eminence Metropolitan of Militos Apostolos (Ecumenical Patriarchate); His Grace Bishop of Branicevo Ignatije Midic (Patriarchate of Serbia), His Grace Bishop of Western America Maxim Vasiljevic (Patriarchate of Serbia); His Eminence Metropolitan of Trikki Alexios; sev_pergamou.jpgHis Eminence Metropolitan of Thessaliotidos Kyrillos; His Eminence Metropolitan of Elassona Vasileios; His Eminence Metropolitan of Messinia Chrysostomos; and His Grace Bishop Seraphim of Rentina.
[To view the Address by Metropolitan of Demetrias Ignatius on the occasion of the bestowal of the Golden Cross, the highest honorary distinction of the Holy Metropolis of Demetrias on the Metropolitan of Pergamon John Zizioulas, click here .]
The conference and the honorary event were also attended by the President of the Faculty of Theology at the Theological School of Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Professor C. Stamoulis, as well as teachers from both faculties of the same School; professors of the Theological School at the University of Athens; President of the Department of Orthodox Theology at the University of Munich, Professor A. Vletsis; the co-founder and director of the program for Orthodox Studies at Fordham University in New York, Associate Professor Aristotle Papanikolaou; Professor of Dogmatics at Saint Sergius Institute in Paris, Michel Stavrou; Professor of the Graduate Institute of Orthodox Theology in Chambesy, Geneva, pergam_(9).jpgProfessor K. Deliconstantis; the President of the European Forum of Orthodox Theological Schools, and Professor at the University of Athens and St. Sergius Institute Fr. Gregorios Papathomas; the Director of the Patriarchal Institute for Patristic Studies (Thessaloniki) and Professor at the University of Thessaloniki, G. Martzelos; Assistant Professor at the Hellenic Open University and Coordinator of the Program "Studies in Orthodoxy" K. Agoras; Advisor of the Pedagogical Institute and Director of the journal Theologia Dr. S. Yangazoglou; the Director of the radio station of the Church of Greece Alexandros Katsiaras, and many others.
To view more photos, click here .