European Academy of Religion: Religion and Diversity

Volos panel on “Crossing boundaries in eco-theological formation: Embracing plurality and God’s creation, transforming community”, Speakers included Dr. Christina Nellist (Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics), Dr. Ionut Biliuta (Romanian Academy), and Rev. Dr. Amphilochios Miltos (Volos Academy for Theological Studies, in absentia).

European Academy of Religion
Conference Completion
June 20-23,
Bologna, Italy

 The annual Conference of the European Academy of Religion (EuARe) took place this year in Bologna, with a physical presence, between June 20 and 23. A major event for scholars working on Religious Studies and Theology, the Conference of EuARe brought together about 800 participants from all over the world, creating an interesting inter-religious and interdisciplinary dialogue. This year’s Conference was organized by the Fondanzione per le Scienze Religiose (Fscire) of Bologna and the general topic was “Religion and Diversity”.
Volos Academy participated with three panels, while associates of the Volos Academy presented papers in seven more sessions. In detail:
1. On Monday, June 20, Dr. Nikolaos Asproulis (Deputy Director, Volos Academy for Theological Studies; Lecturer, Hellenic Open University) participated in the panel “George Florovsky’s Neo-Patristic Synthesis and the contemporary Catholic turn to contextual Catholic theology”, organized by Dr. Thomas Cattoi (Jesuit School of Theology-Santa Clara University – Graduate Theological Union) and chaired by Dr. Paul Gavrilyuk (St Thomas University, Minneapolis, USA). The panel explored the points of contact between the neo-patristic vision of Georges Florovsky and the contemporary Catholic turn to contextual theology, facing issues like the dichotomy between “the wisdom of the Fathers” and contemporary theological reflection, or Catholicism’s growing appreciation of theological inculturation, as well as the encounter between Florovsky and his Roman Catholic counterpart, Jean Daniélou with regards to the reception of patristic tradition. Dr. Nikolaos Asproulis spoke on “The Fathers as a means or as a normative criterion of doing Orthodox theology? Florovsky in dialogue with Nouvelle Théologie on the nature of theology”.

 2. The same day, Mr. Georgios Vlantis (Director of the Council of Christian Churches-ACK in Bavaria; Research Associate of Volos Academy) participated in the panel “Minority as a key perspective on religious-Christian diversity in Europe: How are religious life and church structured and interpreted in sociological minority settings?”, chaired by Dr. Matthias Ehmann (Theological Supreme School of Ewersbach). The panel addressed the issue of the coexistence of majority and minority churches in different countries in Europe, strongly affected by the migrating movements of the 20th century and the increased secularization of European countries. Georgios Vlantis spoke on “Evangelization or Diaspora? Eastern Orthodox Minorities in the West”, focusing on the challenges connected with the Orthodox presence in Germany.
3. On Tuesday, June 21, Dr. Pantelis Kalaitzidis (Director, Volos Academy for Theological Studies, Member of the Executive Committee of the EuAre, Research Associate of the Universities KU Leuven and Münster) participated in the panel “Deification East and West: New Approaches”, chaired by Dr. Paul Gavrilyuk, along with speakers such as Dr. Norman Russell (St. Stephen’s House, University of Oxford), Dr. Frederick Aquino (Abilene Christian University) and Dr. Mark McInroy (University of St. Thomas). The panel attempted a comprehensive treatment of deification to date with methodological and hermeneutical precision and clear articulation of points of convergence and difference or even disagreement on the constitutive elements of deification in different authors and traditions and, finally, its foundational significance for future ecumenical dialogue. Dr. Pantelis Kalaitzidis spoke on “Deification in Contemporary Greek Orthodox Authors”

4. The same day, Dr. Pantelis Kalaitzidis, along with Katerina Pekridou (Conference of European churches, CEC), Prof. Aristotle Papanikolaou (Fordham University, NY), Prof. Kristina Stoeckl (Universität Innsbruck), and Rev. Dr. Cyril Hovorun (Stockholm School of Theology) participated in the panel “Theologies and Practices of Religious Pluralism: Christian perspectives – Session on Orthodoxy”, chaired by Dr. José Casanova (Georgetown University). This panel was part of a larger project which investigates current debates and issues on pluralism within and across religious traditions and the way some of these debates are reshaping the status of religion in different public spaces, in the light of recent events such as the Ecumenical movement(s) and the Second Vatican Council, which initiated shifts in thinking about religious diversity among Christians as well as the regime of truth of other religious traditions. Pantelis Kalaitzidis spoke on “Theological Pluralism and Academic Freedom in Orthodox Theology”

5. The same day, Dr. Nikolaos Asproulis chaired a panel on “Crossing boundaries in eco-theological formation: Embracing plurality and God’s creation, transforming community”, Speakers included Dr. Christina Nellist (Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics), Dr. Ionut Biliuta (Romanian Academy), and Rev. Dr. Amphilochios Miltos (Volos Academy for Theological Studies, in absentia). The session focused on the human-induced climate crisis and the relationship of animal rights with climate crisis, and it demonstrated examples of good practices from various contexts and suggest possible eco-theological initiatives, addressing the ongoing climate crisis (e.g. Green parishes), highlighting the need of ethical principles to guide both the continuation of human activity and economic development.

6. The same day, Dr. Nikos Kouremenos participated in the panel “The Creed Atlas”, chaired by Dr. Antonio Gerace of Fscire. The panel studied the translations of the Creed in the Early Modern Era, through the analysis of primary sources such as catechisms and manual of doctrines, with specialists in different languages, also exploring the new opportunities that digital tools have introduced while researching on digitized primary sources, thus improving our awareness of the semantic nuances occurring while defining the theological foundation of the faith. Nikos Kouremenos spoke on “The Apostolic Creed in the Greek Translations of the Luther‘ s Small Catechism: Preliminary remarks”.

 7. On Wednesday, June 22, Dr. Pantelis Kalaitzidis chaired and spoke in the panel on “The Declaration of Orthodox Theologians on the Russian World”. The Declaration, published on March 13th, rebuked the argument of the existence of a “Russian World” which, in addition to Russia, includes the states of Belarus and Ukraine but also of Moldova and Kazakhstan, and the discussion in the panel focused on the evolution of the idea of Russian World through time, its acceptance and promotion by the various social strata in Russia, but also by conservative and right-wing movements all over the world. Participants in the panel included Dr. José Casanova (Georgetown University), Rev. Dr. Cyril Hovorun (Stockholm School of Theology), Annamária Amik (independent journalist and translator, Romania), and Dr. Kristina Stoeckl (Universität Innsbruck, Austria).
8. The same day, Dr. Nikolaos Asproulis joined the panel on “The diversity of hermeneutical approaches: The Future of Scripture and Theology”, chaired by Dr. Elisabeth Maikranz (Universität Heidelberg) and Dr. Roger Revell (University of Oxford), which addressed a wide range of hermeneutical challenges facing contemporary biblical interpretation and theology. From the outset, theology has stemmed from such hermeneutical pursuits. Even Scripture itself can be understood as a collection of hermeneutical attempts to understand the actions of God and humans’ experiences of God. The multivarious ways of practicing hermeneutics provide an excellent opportunity to explore new ideas and learn how to bring the past into new ways of speaking. Dr. Asproulis spoke in the session on “The Future of Scripture and Theology”.

 9. The same day, Dr. Nikolaos Asproulis participated in the session of the RESILIENCE Consortium “RESILIENCE meets the community”. This panel was moderated by Dr. Karla Boersma. RESILIENCE, the Research Infrastructure in Religious Studies, has reached the next phase. This means that the consortium continues developing the RI, addressing both the demand of knowledge about religions and of technical tools enhancing that demand, but also making its services available, like Transnational Access Scholarships (TNA), providing direct, fast, and effective access to collections, guided by experts, and the ReIReSearch database, where is available for disparate digital resources and databases related to Religious Studies in a unified and standardized way.
10. Finally, on Thursday, June 23, Mr. Georgios Vlantis chaired the panel “‘For the Life of the World’: The Document of the Ecumenical Patriarchate on the Social Ethos of the Orthodox Church”. This document was published in early 2020, aiming to offer a strong theological impulse to the discussion on Orthodox social ethics, being a fruit of the intensive collaboration of a great network of Orthodox theologians from various contexts and approved by the Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. The panel reflected on the theological contributions of the document and also on its inter-orthodox and ecumenical reception. Mr. Vlantis introduced the document commenting on “Conciliar processes and academic freedom”. Speakers included also Dr. Dimitrios Keramidas (Pontificia Università “San Tommaso d’Aquino”, Angelicum), Rev. Dr. Dietmar Shon OP (Eastern Church Institute, Regensburg), and Inga Leonova (editor-in-chief, “The Wheel” journal).
In addition to the Conference sessions, EuARe had the annual meeting of its General Assembly, which held elections of the new Executive committee. Dr. Pantelis Kalaitzidis, Director of the Volos Academy, was re-elected as a member of the Executive Committee for its next four years term. 

 More photos on the Volos Academy Website