Greetings of His Eminence Cardinal Kurt Koch
Prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Christian Unity
International Academic Conference
“Synodality in the Life and mission
of the Eastern Orthodox Church"
Pontifical University St. Thomas Aquinas
Rome, 2 November 2022
Your Eminences, Your Excellencies, Your Graces,
dear Father Rector, dear Professors, dear students
The idea of this symposium goes back to July 2021. At that time, the Dicastery for Promoting Christian Unity suggested to the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops to organize academic ecumenical conferences on synodality in the different Christian traditions, in order to foster the ecumenical dimension of the ongoing Synodal process on synodality. The original idea was that these conferences could serve as “pre-synodal consultations” on how the different Christian traditions understand and practice synodality.
Four conferences were foreseen by our Dicastery: with the Eastern Orthodox Churches, with the Oriental Orthodox Churches, with the mainline Western Christian Communions, and with the Free Churches. I am grateful that our proposal has been welcomed by Cardinal Mario Grech, General Secretary of the Synod of Bishops, and that the two first conferences, dedicated to the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox traditions, have been jointly prepared and organized by the Pro Oriente Foundation – represented here by his President Dr Alfons Kloss – and by the Institute for Ecumenical Studies of the Angelicum.
These conferences are important for three reasons. Firstly, if one understands the ecumenical path as an “exchange of gifts”, one of the gifts Catholics can receive from the other Christians is precisely their understanding and experience of synodality, particularly important in the context of the synodal process of the Catholic Church. As Pope Francis states in Evangelii Gaudium with a particular reference to the Orthodox: “we Catholics have the opportunity to learn more about the meaning of episcopal collegiality and their experience of synodality. Through an exchange of gifts, the Spirit can lead us ever more fully into truth and goodness” (EG 246).
Secondly, these conferences have a particular relevance for the current international theological orthodox-catholic dialogue, which topic is precisely the relationship between synodality and primacy in the second millennium and today. I am sure that the reflections we will hear in these days will be of interest for our dialogue. I am grateful for the presence among us tonight of His Eminence Metropolitan Job of Pisidia, Co-chair of this commission and tireless promoter of the dialogue.
Finally, this conference is important for a third reason: the preparation of the 1700 anniversary of the first ecumenical council, the Council of Nicaea. Reflecting together on synodality can help us to prepare to celebrate together, in a “synodal” way, the jubilee of this council, the very first experience of synodality on a worldwide level.
Expressing my best wishes for this symposium, I would like to express my deep appreciation to its scientific committee, to the Pro Oriente Foundation and the Institute for Ecumenical Studies. May the Lord abundantly bless all the participants! May our reflections of these days help us to continue our “walking together” towards full communion, accomplishing the will of the Lord.