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Completion of conference:

AMILKAS ALIVIZATOS AND MODERN GREEK THEOLOGY:

UNIVERSITY TEACHING, CHURCH MINISTRY AND ECUMENICAL DIALOGUE

Press release, May 12, 2022

On May 6 and 7, 2022, the conference “Amilkas Alivizatos and Modern Greek Theology: University Teaching, Church Ministry and Ecumenical Dialogue” was successfully held at the Thessalia Conference Center in Melissiatika, Volos, Greece. The Conference was organized by the Volos Academy for Theological Studies and was completed with the divine liturgy on Sunday, May 8, at the local church of St. Constantine. The Conference –which was initially scheduled for March 2020 but has been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic– was the fourth in a series entitled “Theological Portraits”.

After a brief introduction to the topic by Dr. Pantelis Kalaitzidis, Director of the Volos Academy, and the welcoming address by the Metropolitan Ignatius of Demetrias, the conference began with the presentation of Dr. Ioannis M. Konidaris (Professor Emeritus, Faculty of Law, University of Athens and former Secretary General of Religions of the Ministry of Education and Religions) on the subject “Amilkas Alivizatos: A groundbreaking law-canonist”. Konidaris mainly referred to the legal initiatives undertaken by Alivizatos, with respect to the establishment of the Holy Synod of the Church of Greece in 1923 but also with his proposal for the participation of elected lay people in the ecclesiastical administration, which unfortunately was not implemented due to the dictatorship of Ioannis Metaxas. Then, Metropolitan of Peristeri Dr. Grigorios (Papathomas), (Professor of the Faculty of Theology, Athens University, and of St Serge Theological Institute, Paris, and Member of the Board of the Volos Academy for Theological Studies) spoke on the topic “Critical evaluation of the canonical work of Amilkas Alivizatos”, referring to the efforts of Alivizatos to update the ecclesiastical canonical bibliography and the relative problems, posing the question about his role as a canonist or ecclesiologist. Dr. Eleonora Giatsidou (Lecturer, Faculty of Theology, University of Thessaloniki) presented the topic “The implementation of oikonomia (in the sense of condescension and clemency) in ecclesiastical practice according to Professor Amilkas Alivizatos”, where she referred to the corresponding attempt to systematize the concept of oikonomia, despite his own realization that in the end “oikonomia must be applied in oikonomia”, making it thus impossible to approach the idea of ​​oikonomia in a legal way. The second day of the Conference began with Dr. Nikos Kouremenos’ (Scientific Associate of the Volos Academy for Theological Studies) presentation on “Primordial Christianity in the work of Amilkas Alivizatos”. Kouremenos referred to the scholarly study conducted by Alivizatos during his postgraduate studies in Germany on the importance of the episcopal office according to Irenaeus of Lyons and the dispute over Easter in the 2 nd century, outlining the dialogue that developed between liberal Protestantism and Orthodox theology. Then, Dr. Theodosis Tsironis (Independent researcher, PhD in History, Theologian) presented the topic “The ‘rectification’ of the Church, as envisioned by Amilkas Alivizatos (1913-1914)”, discussing the proposals of the liberal Alivizatos for the ‘rectification’ of the Church, in order to become an agent of social progress, through his articles in the newspaper “Patris” (“Motherland”) and his speeches in “Parnassos”, while he also examined his relative impact and influence. Dr. Despina Michalaga (Associate Professor, Faculty of Theology, University of Athens) spoke about the “Presence of Amilkas Alivizatos at the Academy of Athens”, emphasizing the important offers of the childless Alivizatos in the form of bequests and grants, and providing interesting details about his personal life. Dr. Antonia Kyriatzi (Assistant Professor, Faculty of Theology, University of Thessaloniki) presented the topic “The theological ‘generation of the 30’s’ and the contribution of Amilkas Alivizatos to modern Greek theology”, where she spoke about the impetus Alivizatos gave to the research of sources, the critical and systematic examination of scientific issues but also about his interest in Canon Law and Ecumenical Theology and his ability to contribute to the work of the Church, mentioning the context of the time in political and economic terms. Dr. Nikolaos Asproulis (Deputy Director, Volos Academy for Theological Studies, Lecturer at the Hellenic Open University) presented the topic “Orthodox Theology at a Crossroads: The Athens Conference of 1936 and Amilkas Alivizatos.” In his talk he referred to the agenda and the participants of the 1936 Conference, the theological affinity between Alivizatos and Florovsky and their role in defining a new theological paradigm in Orthodox theology, while he underlined the historical significance of the Conference for the subsequent developments until the recent Holy and Great Synod of Crete (2016). Dr. Stavros Yangazoglou (Assistant Professor, Faculty of Theology, University of Athens), presented the topic “The contribution of Amilkas Alivizatos in Orthodox Ecclesiology”, where he emphasized the ecclesiological positions of Amilkas Alivizatos on the nature, the conscience and the catholicity of the Church, speaking of its duty to avoid confessionalism, in favor of the dialogue with the world in order to reveal the treasures of the Tradition it preserves. In his presentation on “Amilkas Alivizatos as a pioneer of the Ecumenical Movement: Evaluation of his work, 100 years since he presented the program of Orthodoxy for The ‘Society of Churches’”, Dr. Stylianos C. Tsombanidis (Professor, Faculty of Theology, University of Thessaloniki), outlined and attempted to evaluate the entire ecumenical work of Alivizatos, and his combination of faithful devotion to the teaching of the indivisible Church with his openness in the approach of the relations of the Orthodox Church with the other Churches and Denominations. Dr. Pandora Dimanopoulou (École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales) approached similar issues but from a different point of view, in her presentation on “Religion and Diplomacy in the Mid-war Politics: Amilkas Alivizatos’ contribution to the approach between the Anglican and the Orthodox Churches during the First steps of the Ecumenical Movement”, where she analyzed the meaning of the discourse and the actions of the participants in the early Ecumenical movements, of both clergy and laity, in order to meet the unprecedented secular challenges they faced immediately after the outbreak of the First World War and the subsequent economic crisis. In her presentation titled “Amilkas Alivizatos and the World Council of Churches”, Dr. Vassiliki Stathokosta (Associate Professor, Faculty of Theology, University of Athens) referred to the insights but also to the difficulties that Alivizatos encountered in his efforts to facilitate the participation of Greece in the World Council of Churches. At the closing session, Tassos Anastasiadis (Associate Professor, McGill University, Canada) with his presentation on “Amilkas Alivizatos and the defeat of liberal orthodox theology, 1918-1938”, mapped the ecclesiastical landscape in Greece and discussed the phenomenon of Confessionalism and the “conservative renewal” of the Church, a paradoxical phenomenon which led to the unpredictable exchanges between the conservative and the liberal fractions. Dr. Pantelis Kalaitzidis (Director of Volos Academy for Theological Studies, Research Associate at the Universities KU Leuven and Münster) spoke on “Nation and Church in the thought of Amilkas Alivizatos”, where he presented and analyzed the theological, ideological and political facets of Alivizatos’ approach, its points of continuity and discontinuity with the next theological generation of the ’60’s, raising questions about the limits, the scope and the coherence of its positions and its relationship with the reformation and renovation of the Church. At the end of the conference, Nikos Alivizatos (Professor Emeritus, Faculty of Law, University of Athens), nephew of the honored theologian, spoke on the subject “Amilkas Alivizatos and the dictatorship of the Colonels”, bringing to the surface details from Alivizatos’ reactions as President, then, of the Academy of Athens, who felt that the imposition of the dictatorship negated his lifelong hopes for ecclesiastical reform and for the “opening” of the Church of Greece to the West.

In almost all presentations, Alivizatos’ liberal political approach was evident, as well as the difficulties he faced coexisting with a conservative environment. Equally evident was the priority he gave on love and respect over doctrinal or any other differences. The presentations were rich in biographical details but also in emotional content, thanks to the kinship relations and the personal acquaintances of some speakers with the honored theologian.

The video material of the Conference will be soon uploaded to the Volos Academy YouTube channel. The next conference of Volos Academy will take place on 26-29 May 2022, dedicated to Saint Symeon the New Theologian.

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