By Mark Reasoner, Associate Professor of Theology
On Monday, October 20, Marian University was pleased to host Orthodox theologian Rev. John Chryssavgis, Ph.D., who serves as Archdeacon to the Ecumenical Throne of Patriarch Bartholomew I. In his role as Archdeacon, he serves as advisor on ecological issues and has edited On Earth as in Heaven: Ecological Vision and Initiatives of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew.
While on campus, Chryssavgis discussed the theological foundations of ecological responsibility at a lunch meeting with Carl Lecher, Ph.D., associate professor of chemistry; Stephanie Schuck, restoration ecologist in the Nina Mason Pulliam EcoLab; and Andrew Semler, Writing Center staff. In the afternoon, Chryssavgis visited the class of Donna Proctor, assistant professor of theology and director of peace and justice studies, and talked with students about the relationship that Patriarch Bartholomew has with Pope Francis and about Orthodox-Catholic and Orthodox-Lutheran dialogues. He also fielded questions from the students.
That evening, to an audience of more than 120 people in Michael A. Evans Center for Health Sciences, Chryssavgis gave a moving presentation of Catholic-Orthodox dialogue, especially since Vatican II. The evening lecture began with a warm welcome from Archbishop Joseph Tobin, who himself is deeply invested in Catholic Orthodox dialogue by virtue of his position as co-chair of the North American Orthodox-Catholic
Archdeacon Chryssavgis’ lecture, entitled “From Estrangement to Reconciliation: The Roman Catholic and Orthodox Churches in Dialogue,” offered an historical perspective that communicated what breakthroughs the past 50 years have seen in relations between Orthodox and Catholic Churches. His lecture detailed the steps that Popes John XXIII, Paul VI, John Paul II, Benedict XVI, and Francis have taken toward improved dialogue. He showed pictures of Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras and many photographs of Pope Francis and Patriarch Bartholomew in Jerusalem last May.
Besides a description of the steps toward dialogue, the lecture included honest identification of difficulties that hinder dialogue. The general tone of the lecture was one of respect for both Orthodox and Catholic Churches and hope for their unity. All present were encouraged by the steps toward unity that Chryssavgis outlined.
Several departments of Marian University were especially involved in Archdeacon Chryssavgis’ visit. The Department of Theology and Philosophy made initial plans for the visit in collaboration with Holy Trinity Orthodox Church of Carmel. The Bishop Simon Bruté College Seminary provided lodging and transportation for the archdeacon. Daniel Conway, senior vice president for mission, identity, and planning, hosted a dinner for Archdeacon Chryssavgis and Archbishop Tobin. Mark Erdosy, executive
director of church relations and the San Damiano Scholars Program for Church Leadership, provided the reception after the lecture.