XX International Ecumenical Conference
on Orthodox spirituality*
*MAN--CUSTODIAN OF CREATION
/Bose, Wednesday 5 - Saturday 8 September 2012
/in collaboration with the Orthodox Churches/
Bose, 8 September 2012
by ENZO BIANCHI
To conclude this 20th conference
--- it seems only yesterday that with great hesitation and trembling we
began this adventure twenty years ago
> --- I
simply wish to express profound thanks to the Lord. It is the Lord who
always accompanies us in these conferences, it is the Lord who is in our
midst with his mercy and his love, it is the Lord who allows us to meet,
to listen to each other, to exchange gifts, the gifts that our Churches
have and that ought to be shared among those who call themselves
Christians. We will, of course, express our thanksgiving in prayer, but
it is as well a profoundly felt sentiment in our hearts, hence we must
by all means express it at the end of our meetings.
The ecumenical patriarch Bartholomew I said last June that "the real
crisis is not in the environment, but in men's hearts". I believe that
this is not only true, but that it is something that ought to engage us
in a real and true responsibility, which is that of the Christian life.
I try never to forget the words of bishop Ioann (Wendland), later
metropolitan of Jaroslavl' (+1989), representative of the Russian Church
at the World Council of Churches. He introduced himself and the Russian
Church with these words: "Brethren, we wish to thank you for having
welcomed us among you. You will ask what is our contribution. We do not
offer a new religious doctrine, we offer the faith of the early Church.
Perhaps we have not been capable of living up to it. We offer it to you
and we hope that you will be capable and that together we will be
capable of producing the fruits that perhaps alone we have not been able
These are humble and great words, which reveal what meeting each other,
welcoming each other, tending towards communion in Christ can signify.
Ecumenism is not a kind of compromise of tactics or of strategy, wrote
metropolitan Anthony Bloom, a way of bringing together different
Churches and of drawing believers; ecumenism is an attitude of the
spirit that recognizes that Christ is the Lord of the world and that our
role is to bring to this universe a truth that embraces, exalts it, that
leads it to a beauty and a salvation that it did not know. The end of
ecumenism is the transfiguration of the world, all together, because
"God has conceived our salvation also through the material of the world,
the material world, the visible world," as St John Damascene writes (/On
the sacred images,/ 1,16).
The ecological crisis, as metropolitan Ioannis of Pergamum said, is not
only the consequence of individualism, of opulence, of consumerism, but
is above all a consequence of a pathology of man's identity, who risks
forgetting who he is and to what he is called. Our conferences, which
from the very beginning have had the blessing of the Patriarchate of
Constantinople and of the Patriarchate of Moscow, which have always
supported and encouraged us, and now also the blessing of the other
Orthodox Churches, would like to be an antidote in this direction, a
humble possibility of encounter, a seed of hope!
So I truly feel the duty of thanking: the patriarch of Constantinople
*metropolitan delegate *Ioannis of Pergamum,* co-president of the
international mixed commission for theological dialogue between the
Catholic and the Orthodox Churches; without forgetting archdeacon *John
Chryssavghis* and archimandrite *Athenagoras, *who this morning, on the
solemnity of the Birth of the Mother of God, celebrated the divine liturgy.
A thank you to the patriarch of Moscow
metropolitan *German of Volgograd and Kamis(in, *who has kindly returned
in our midst, to bishop *Amvrosij of Gatc(ina,* head of the delegation,
with father *Porfirij of Solovki* and father *Aleksij Dikarev; *to
bishop *Antonij of Boryspil' *of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, sent by
metropolitan Volodymyr of Kiev, whom we greatly love and who is always
in our prayers; to bishop *Stefan of Homel' and Zlobin,* of the
Belarusian Exarchate, representing metropolitan Filaret of Minsk.
I also thank the Churches that have sent their representatives or
messages of fraternal participation: the bishops who have attended this
conference and who have visited us, among them cardinal *Roger
Etchegaray;* archbishop *Antonio Mennini,* apostolic nuncio in Great
Britain; bishop *Mansueto Bianchi* of Pistoia, president of the
Commission of the Italian Bishops' Conference for ecumenism; mons.
*Andrea Palmieri, *who is the new undersecretary of the Pontifical
Council for Christian Unity, whom we assure of our prayers for the great
responsibility that he has assumed; metropolitan *George of Mount
Lebanon,* who has honored us by returning among us, giving us his words
of wisdom, reading the message of patriarch Ignatius IV of Antioch,
whose great suffering on account of the situation in Syria we know and
to whom we are close with intercession to the Lord; bishop *Andrej of
Remesiana* of the Serbian Patriarchate, auxiliary of patriarch Irinej
and very dear to us, with whom we have ties of fraternal friendship and
whom we encourage from the heart in his love for ecumenism and for
dialogue; metropolitan *Serafim of Germany,* to whom we are much
indebted for his faithfulness at our conferences, but also for all his
care in his relations with our community and with the other Churches;
bishop *Ioannis of Thermopylae, *punctually present in our conferences;
*Melchisedek, bishop of Pittsburgh, *for who we pray heartily...
In sum, we truly thank everyone. The speakers have offered us papers f
great spiritual and intellectual quality, which held the attention of
our assembly of over 250 persons.
A special word of thanks to the members of the Scientific Committee
>, first of
all to father *Michal van Parys, *who at the end has given us a concise
summary of the proceedings, to professor *Antonio Rigo,* who is always
of great stimulus and support; to *Hervé Legrand, *who offers us his
wisdom; and to the other members.
I wish to express the joy of our community every time that it welcomes
monks and nuns of eastern and western monasteries, with whom we have a
sincere communion in perseverant following of the Lord.
We thank the interpreters, the technician, our friends who faithfully
return, all the participants.
We dare to say: good-by until next year, in the same week of September.
By that time the Acts
> of this
conference, we hope, will have been published.
As for the theme of our next conference, if you have nay suggestions, we
will be glad to receive and evaluate them. The Scientific Committee will
meet on 4--5 November.
Sincere thanks, from me, from the Community. I want to express to you
all our friendship, all our desire that we may see one another not only
in these conferences, that we may see one another again during our
earthly course. Every moment of the year our community is open to
receive you, to taste together how good and how sweet is the Lord. Thank
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