After the successful completion of the four round tables on “Orthodoxy and the ‘others’ in Greece in 2040”, the Working Thematic Group of the Volos Academy for Theological Studies, chaired by His Eminence Metropolitan Ignatios of Demetrias is pleased to announce the publication of its proceedings in a physical and digital form. The round tables were held in the framework of the activities of "Greece 2021 - 200 years after the Revolution" National Committee. The presentation of the White Bible with the conclusions of the different thematic working groups took place before the state and political authorities in the hall of the Senate of the Old Parliament, on October 18, 2021.

Undoubtedly, the anniversary of the two hundred years of 1821 finds Greece facing a number of challenges, while asking questions about the role of Orthodoxy in the current conditions. The nation and society are undergoing dynamic changes from a cultural, political, social, ideological and religious point of view in a time of rapid transformations in both the West and the East, similar to the time of the Revolution of 1821. The role of religion and secularism, the production and distribution of wealth, and the course of democratic culture and liberal social and political thought in the West and East, are rapidly reshaping and rearranging. Facing these changes and their consequences (such as the rapid secularization of the state, globalization but also the rise of isolationist and nationalist tendencies in various forms, challenging the great narratives of history, increasing inequalities within societies but also between geographical regions resulting in large flows of refugees and immigrants, etc.), Orthodoxy in Greece is looking for solutions that respond to the current situation, with the hope to become a driving force for a brighter future.

In this context, revisions seem inevitable. Orthodoxy in Greece of the future will have to overcome the tendency of turning its theological discourse into a building material for a closed collective identity, which sees almost every cultural, religious and national "other" in an opposed and phobic way, regardless if the "others" are different or even rivals. This phenomenon is certainly not limited to Greece, but seems to be a consequence of the climate of insecurity and fragmentation of public space that began in the mid-20th century and feeds an unequal and barbaric society, also plagued by the effects of the climate crisis. But the traditional elements that have survived in Orthodoxy do not inevitably lead to isolationism, but also allow adaptation to new conditions.

As has been stressed by many of the contributors, in order for the Church to be able to speak to modern people and preach the Gospel to the world today, it needs to urgently realize both the reality of pluralism and that any adherence to the current conditions and pursuit of a privileged role are signs of anachronism and escapist tendencies from history. In this vein the overcoming of the ethnocentric discourse, as well as the final abandonment of any dream of a return to Byzantine theocracy, to the peculiar Great Idea of Romiosyni or to any other anti-modern version of "Christian society" should be considered as its urgent priority. The Church can and must submit its own proposal of life, without constantly invoking the past and its contribution to the national wars. That is why the adoption of an ecumenical ecclesiastical discourse, free from the constant references to the nation and the state and from the forms of the Constantine period, is not just a demand for authenticity and fidelity to the Orthodox tradition; it is at the same time an absolutely necessary and urgent condition, in order for the Orthodox Church to enter the century we live in and not find a convenient refuge in the idealization of the past.

You can read the full text of the study of the Thematic Working Group of the Volos Academy for Theological Studies online, here.

You can watch the video from the speech delivered by His Eminence the Metropolitan Ignatios of Demetrias here

Here you can watch the videos from the four round banks :