From 5th to 8th March 2018, the Sophia University Institute hosted the second session of lectures organised by the Patriarch Athenagoras – Chiara Lubich Interconfessional Ecumenical Chair. The lectures focused on the Ecclesiology of the Orthodox Church and saw the participation of His Eminence Maximos Vgenopoulos, the Metropolitan of Selyvria.

His presence in the activities organised by the Chair, according to Patriarch Bartholomew’s wish, marked another step forward along the pathway of dialogue with the Orthodox Church, after the awarding of the honorary degree in Culture of Unity to Patriarch Bartholomew in October 2015 and the inauguration of the Chair on 14th December 2017, with the opening lecture by His Eminence Metropolitan Gennadios Zervos, the Orthodox Archbishop of Italy and Malta.

The academic experience consisted of a series of lectures and dialogues which were open to the participants’ contributions and very enriching from a theological and educational point of view. They were led by His Eminence Vgenopoulos and Sophia President Mgr. Piero Coda, who introduced participants – around thirty people, including professors, experts and students from a variety of countries and cultural backgrounds – into an ‘ecumenical workshop’, a mutual exchange on the richness, the challenges and the issues of contemporary theological thought, on the historical events that marked the journey of the Catholics and the Orthodox through the centuries, and on the liturgical traditions of the two Churches. The atmosphere of profound communion that was established, in a Trinitarian dimension of freedom and mutual trust, bore witness to the gift of the Spirit, which is present among Christians who love one another in the name of Christ.

The session culminated on Wednesday, 7th March with a conference by Metropolitan Maximos held in the Loppiano Auditorium and open to the public. The conference presented the journey and the different stages of the Great Panorthodox Synod of Crete in June 2016, highlighting its significance and historical value in the light of the path of communion among the different Orthodox Churches.

This intense moment of meeting and exchange of gifts was sealed by a message addressed to the Loppiano International Centre by Patriarch Bartholomew, to celebrate the new year. The message, which was received just before the evening began, contained the wish for a new year of Peace and Love for the world in the name of Christ, through the words of Prophet Isaiah “for to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace”.

Anita Gei

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