An International Conference on “The Theological Legacy of Protopresbyter Georges Florovsky” was organized on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of his death by the Ecumenical Patriarchate in cooperation with the Patriarchal Institute for Patristic Studies in Thessaloniki and held in Istanbul on 1-3 September 2019. His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew opened the conference by an introductory address in the presence of the hierarchs, clergymen, and distinguished university professors participating in the conference, in which he stressed that Florovsky’s work is and will remain the inspiration and the direction of the theological work for generations to come, calling Fr. Georges Florovsky “a preeminent figure of the Church and of Theology, a great scholar of Patristics, a professor and writer, a renowned theologian and, according to his disciple Metropolitan John of Pergamon, an ecumenical teacher.”
“A central focus of Florovsky’s thought and witness was the creative return to the Fathers,” said the Ecumenical Patriarch while referring to Florovsky’s engagement of more than fifty years in theology. The keynote speach also focused on Florovsky’s contribution to inter-Christian dialogue: “East and West are parts of a Christian world that, according to God’s plan, should not have split.” His All-Holiness quoted Florovsky who used to say: “The tragedy of division is the biggest and most critical problem in Christian history,” before adding: “The message of Orthodoxy is too true to stay on the sidelines of the debate on the big contemporary questions and problems. […] It requires study, extensive theological work, a ‘quick mind’ and a ‘pure heart’ to reveal to us the richness of Patristic wisdom, to find the answers to many misunderstandings of Orthodox teaching that are circulating inside and outside of Orthodoxy today.”
The introductory address was followed by the keynote speech of the Senior Metropolitan of Pergamon John Zizioulas, Honorary Chairman of the Conference and disciple of Fr. Georges Florovsky. He recalled that Protopresbyter Georges Florovsky was an innovative theologian and professor, and has been described as the “Chief of the Orthodox Theologians” of the twentieth century. His inspiring appeal to the theologians to return to the patristic sources and to acquire the spirit of the Fathers, as well as his appeal to the Church to respond to historical and ecumenical challenges of our time was a landmark for Orthodox theology which influenced the Christian thought until today.
Archbishop Job of Telmessos was among the numerous speakers and delivered a paper on “Georges Florovsky and the World Council of Churches”. Fr. George Florovsky played a decisive role in the formation of the WCC where he represented the Ecumenical Patriarchate. He served on the Provisional Committee of the WCC from 1939 to 1948. Between 1948 and 1961, he was member of both the Central and the Executive Committees. He was also member of the Faith and Order Commission between 1952 and 1971.