MESSAGE OF CARDINAL KURT KOCH
To the Scientific Conference Committee, Speakers, and Participants at the International Congress on
“The Timeliness of Patristic Studies in the Modern World”
29-30 May 2019
It is with particular joy that I express my warmest greetings to the organizers, speakers and participants attending the International Congress promoted by the Department of Church History, Christian Literature, Archaeology and Art School of Theology of the “Aristotle” University of Thessaloniki together with the “Apostle Paul” Institute of Orthodox Theological Studies of Brussels, under the auspices of the Ecumenical Patriarch, His All Holiness Bartholomew I, on the theme “The Timeliness of Patristic Studies in the Modern World”, to be held in Thessaloniki on 29–30 May 2019.
There are many and compelling reasons why Patristic studies remain relevant even in our own era. I am certain that the many distinguished scholars speaking at the Congress, coming from various institutions of the East and West, will be able with eminent competence to develop various aspects of this timely relevance. For my own part, I take the liberty of briefly mentioning an aspect that should not be neglected today. An attentive and careful study of the Church Fathers that transcends controversy and avails itself of modern interpretative methodologies offers the possibility of taking the measure of the enduring dialectic between the requirements of faith and the course of history. It allow us, in a way that is authentically inclusive and not prejudicial, to understand the ways in which faith has been experienced in various eras and in different contexts. Such a study will necessarily assume a critical stance towards all forms of dogmatism, of self–referential cultural systems and of the range of fundamentalisms spreading today. In such a way, on condition that one keeps an open mind devoid of prejudice, the study of the Fathers will promote the development of an authentic spirit of dialogue, through which Christians of the diverse Churches that once considered themselves to be adversaries may be able to perceive each other and to interact with one another in a new way.
I therefore express my best wishes for the successful outcome of the International Congress, trusting that it may make a valuable contribution towards the renewal of patristic studies within the framework of theological formation, and may offer all participants the occasion for an enriching and fruitful exchange. In assuring you of my prayer, I renew my warmest greetings.