Reflection by Dr. Nikolaos Dimitriadis, President of CEMES
Halki Summit V
Istanbul, Wednesday, June 8, 2022
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The Halki Summit V opened its doors on the World Ocean’s day, the 8th of June in Istanbul to discuss ways on a sustainable future for our planet. The title of this Summit has been inspired by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and Pope Francis, who share the same view on the relationship between sustainability of the planet and salvation of the world. “They share same concerns”, as Ft John Chryssavgis noted in his speech, “both of them share the conviction that folllowers of Christ must be in communion with one another and that they must together face the challenges of our time”.
It was a meeting full of enlightening lectures that were followed by fruitful interactions. Almost all lectures/ comments were making reference to the keynote address of His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. (You can find it here: https://www.halkisummit.com/hs5/keynote-address-by-ecumenical-patriarch-bartholomew/)
If I had to pick only one moment of the Summit, that would definitely be our visit at the Theological School of Halki, the arc of wisdom and knowledge. In the first session we elaborated two really important documents: For the Life of the World, Social Ethos of the Orthodox Church and Pope Francis encyclical Fratelli tutti. Both speakers emphasized on our responsibility towards the environment that is linked to our responsibility towards our “neighbour”. In other words to the praxis of the Church that is expressed by serving and sacrificing for the others. Needless to say that diakonia is not an optional action, but a duty.
It is, like it was noted multiple times, a critical moment for the whole world not only for Christianity, but for all religious traditions. The two documents, FTLW and FT, are written in the same spirit, and what defines both is that they don’t use negative concepts. The emphasis of the two documents is given not so much on the imperfection and ugliness of humans, as on the perfection and beauty of God. I personally see this positivity as a recommendation, since we re looking for the first steps in order to fulfill the aim of this Summit: This spirit of consecutiveness and togetherness towards a sustainable future. What is required, is not a change, but an ontological transformation that could be reached following the commandment of Love, a love without measures towards our neighbour, and towards our common neibourhood. As a final remark the words of Nikos Kazantzakis on beauty are coming to my mind. In God’s Pauper: Saint Francis of Assisi, he says:
“Beauty is the daughter of God,” said Francis, looking out of the open window at the courtyard, the arbor and some white clouds in the sky; “beauty is the daughter of God, that I know; and only when we look at it can we guess how the face of God looks like.
I had the privilege to participate in the last four Summits. I have the feeling that this was the most important one as it precisely attributes to the vision of is His All Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew that such meetings should be interreligious and interdisciplinary and additionally fulfills the ecumenical mission and vision of the Center of Ecumenical, Missiological and Environmental Studies Metr. Panteleimon Papageorgiou (CEMES) specifically since this year decided to devote the Open Public Lectures of their Master Program in “Orthodox Ecumenical Theology” (MOET) to the “Eastern/Oriental Orthodox-Latin/Greek Catholic relations” or if I may say, to the dialogue between Orthodox with our Catholic sisters and brothers.
I’ve decided to upload only one picture, the one that Pope Frances embraces the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, for a specific reason: It emphasises the much-needed unity, that we should all aiming for.