International Conference in Fribourg focused on Synodality and its Implementation

An international conference co-organised by the Faculty of Theology and the Institute of Ecumenical Studies of the University of Fribourg (Switzerland) and the Institute of Post-graduate studies in Orthodox Theology of Chambésy (Switzerland) on 16-18 November 2017 on the theme “Synodality and its Implementation – A Theological ‘topos’ for the Church in East and West” focused on the key issue of synodality in the contemporary Orthodox-Catholic bilateral dialogue.

Indeed, the issue of “synodality” has become increasingly important in recent years: in the ecumenical dialogues, but also in the discourse for an ecclesiology that corresponds to modern society where participation procedures are part of of good governance, and in the search for a reform of the Church which takes them into account. In his message sent for the conference, the Ecumenical Patriarch stressed that synodality “is a central dimension of the life of the Church”. He reminded that according to Orthodox ecclesiology, “the Church is synodical”. “It is only with this ecclesiological view of the synodic nature of the Church that it is possible to understand its functioning”.

The conference aimed to support Catholic-Orthodox dialogue through scientific clarification. The local autocephalous Orthodox Churches participating in the international dialogue with the Catholic Church were represented at the conference and presented their respective synodal practice by analyzing its ecclesiological implications. These representatives were: Archbishop Job Getcha, Prof. Nikolaos Nikolakakis and Prof. Vlassios Phidas (Ecumenical Patriarchate), Prof. Grigorios Lantas (Patriarchate of Alexandria), Metropolitan Isaak Barakat (Patriarchate of Antioch) Prof. Spyridon Tsitsinkos (Patriarchate of Jerusalem), Bishop Irenei Steenberg and Dr. Sergij Bortnyk (Church of Russia), Rev. Prof. Zdravko Jovanovic (Church of Serbia), Rev. Prof. Patricia Vlaicu (Church of Romania), Prof. Ivan Zhelev Dimitrov (Church of Bulgaria), Prof. Levan Meteshvili (Church of Georgia, read in abstentia), Metropolitan Basilios Karayiannis (Church of Cyprus), Metropolitan Gabriel Papanikolaou (Church of Greece), Rev. Andrej Kuzma (Church of Poland), Prof. Nathan Hoppe (Church of Albania), and Prof. Will Cohen (“Orthodox Church in America”). The synodality in the Oriental Orthodox Churches was presented by Metropolitan Polycarpus Aydin (Syriac Orthodox Church).

Roman Catholic scholars also presented the  synodal practice in the Roman Catholic Church and in the Oriental Catholic Churches. Among them, Rev. Prof. Eric Besson (Lyon), Prof. Pablo Gefaell (Rome), Prof. Michael Kuchera (Rome), Rev. George Madathikandathil (India), Bishop Dimitrios Salachas (Athens), Prof. Peter Szabo (Budapest), Prof. Patrick Valdrini (Rome).

The conference also beneficiate from the contributions of experts such as Rev. Hyacinthe Destivelle, Prof. Pierre Gisel, Prof. Viorel Ionita, Rev. Prof. Hervé Legrand, Metropolitan Maximos of Silyvria, Dr. Paul Meyendorff, Rev. Amphilochios Miltos, Fr. Thomas Pott, Prof. Goran Sekulovski, M. Andrei Shiskov and Prof. Michel Stavrou.