2 Timothy 3:5-"having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!"
2 Peter 2:1-"But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction."
FORDHAM UNIVERSITY THE HOST & VEHICLE
Photo by Chris Taggart
Archbishop Williams made his case in a lecture, “Liturgical Humanism: Orthodoxy and the Transformation of Culture,” which he delivered after accepting an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Joseph M. McShane, S.J., president of Fordham.
The Sept. 30th event was part of the Orthodoxy in America Lecture Series, sponsored by Fordham’s Orthodox Christian Studies Center.
Archbishop Williams, who served as senior bishop of the worldwide Anglican Communion from 2002 to 2012 and is Master of Magdalene College at the University of Cambridge, is a noted scholar of Orthodox Christianity. His particular interest in Russian Orthodoxy focused on Vladimir Lossky, the influential 20th-century theologian. His dissertation on Lossky, done at Oxford, set him on a path to become one of today’s leading experts in contemporary Orthodox Christian thinking.
In introducing Archbishop Williams, Father McShane called him "the greatest theologian in the English speaking world."
“With word and action, you have sought—with telling results—to convince the world that the encounter with God is transforming, life-giving, and exhilarating. As you have done so, you have become Pontifex Anglicanus: the Anglican bridge builder."
In his talk, Archibishop Williams built yet another bridge by focusing on a religious experience shared by Catholics, Anglicans, and Orthodox Christians: the liturgy.
“In every era, the Divine Liturgy is a way for humans to experience [God] in reality, not in theoretical principle,” he said.
The liturgy, he said, maps out an alternative reality and must remain relevant to contemporary culture— lest it become perceived as an “enclosed in a world of ritualized code.” He added that the liturgy should not become an alternative to other kinds of engagement, social or otherwise.
“We need to keep liturgical action at the center of our vision,” he said. “The question isn’t whether it’s instructive or entertaining, but it’s whether it looks as though it’s credibly changing the vision of those participating.”
He said that as a “Christian interruption,” liturgy should also not be expected to offer solutions to complex problems, but rather it should pose questions. As a general heritage, the ritualized activity in the liturgy “specifies and incarnates a culture, a culture that asks serious questions of our own culture.” And sometimes those are the most culturally uncomfortable questions, such as concern for the unborn or “the power of death in the world we occupy—and trying to understand a world [heaven] where that doesn’t exist.”
“Our popular culture refuses or trivializes our location in time,” he said. “It has a very limited understating of past and future.”
Conversely, the liturgical act exists in the past, present, and future, he said. It also explores how the period of time from one world can be connected to that of another world, namely the Kingdom of God.
Today’s trivialization of time has led to all sorts of short-term gain behavior that has affected the planet’s future, he said.
“If we do want to live in the future Kingdom, we must be aware of how short term comforts . . . affect the health of the natural world.”
In addition, Archbishop Williams warned against politics that “fail to protect the vulnerable, add to the degradation of the material world, or shore up inequalities.”
“Any and all of these deserve a critique in the liturgy,” he said.
“The believer is one who takes seriously an openness in art, science, and politics. Approaching this through liturgical practice, he or she physically enacts this in a straightforward act. Here, in this space and time, it is enacted in a charismatic event.”
Founded in 1841, Fordham is the Jesuit University of New York, offering exceptional education distinguished by the Jesuit tradition to more than 15,100 students in its four undergraduate colleges and its six graduate and professional schools. It has residential campuses in the Bronx and Manhattan, a campus in West Harrison, N.Y., the Louis Calder Center Biological Field Station in Armonk, N.Y., and the London Centre in the United Kingdom.
"When the leader of the world's 300 million Orthodox Christians came to Fordham last fall, he brought a simple but profound message" http://www.fordham.edu/campus_resources/enewsroom/fordham_magazine/fordham_online/vocation_of_love_75049.asp; republished below in full unedited for informational, educational, and research purposes:
“The way of the heart stands in opposition to everything that violates peace,” Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew told a standing-room-only audience in the church on October 27, after receiving an honorary doctorate of laws from Fordham. “Unless our actions are founded on love, rather than on fear, they will never overcome fanaticism or fundamentalism.”
|Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew receives a standing ovation from members of the Catholic and Orthodox clergies, including (from row, l. to r.) Archbishop Timothy Dolan, Joseph M. McShane, S.J., Edward Cardinal Egan and Archbishop Demetrios Trakatellis. Photo by Bruce Gilbert|
John Doscas, CBA ’80, was one of the faithful who filled the church for the occasion. He was moved not only by the patriarch’s words, but also by the warm welcome he received from Fordham and the Catholic community.
“It showed real caring and a true spirit behind what they were trying to accomplish. We’re all aware of the schism from 1,000 years ago, and the Catholic Church does not necessarily need to reach out in ways like that,” he said. “It gives Orthodox Christians a feeling of hope.”
The Relics of the SaintsThe seed that led to the patriarch’s historic visit was planted in spring 2004. Fordham had recently launched its Orthodoxy in America Lecture Series with an inaugural address by Archbishop Demetrios Trakatellis, head of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. To celebrate the occasion and discuss how the University might deepen its relations with the Orthodox community, Aristotle Papanikolaou, Ph.D. (FCRH ’88), associate professor of theology at Fordham, organized a small dinner with the Rev. Alexander Karloutsos, a trusted adviser to Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, and several Fordham colleagues, including George Demacopoulos, Ph.D., associate professor of theology.
The hot topic of conversation was a public letter recently issued by the patriarch accepting an apology from Pope John Paul II for “sins of action and omission” by Roman Catholics against Orthodox Christians during the Fourth Crusades—particularly the 1204 invasion of Constantinople (modern-day Istanbul), when crusaders sacked the Orthodox Christian city, widening the 1054 schism between Orthodox Christians and Roman Catholics.
The pope’s gesture and the patriarch’s response were a fine step toward reconciliation, Father Karloutsos said, but wouldn’t it be something if the Catholic Church returned the cherished relics of St. John Chrysostom, patriarch of Constantinople during the late-fourth and early-fifth centuries and one of the most revered figures in Orthodox tradition.
“No kidding,” Demacopoulos agreed. “And how about the return of the relics of Gregory Nazianzen?” he added, referring to the patriarch, also known as St. Gregory the Theologian, who preceded St. John Chrysostom.
That’s when Father Karloutsos said that the patriarch did indeed plan to travel to Rome to ask for the return of the relics. The priest then surprised Demacopoulos and Papanikolaou by asking them if they would help provide the necessary documentation to support the patriarch’s historic request. Where exactly were the relics, and how—and when—did they get there?
|The co-directors of Fordham's Orthodox Christian Studies program, George Demacopoulos (left) and Aristotle Papanikolaou, flank Archbishop Demetrios Trakatellis, primate of the Greek Orthodox Church of America, and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. Photo by Jon Roemer|
“There was a study done by an art historian documenting all the shrines in St. Peter’s Basilica and all of the relics that are in those shrines with references in the footnotes to when everything got placed in those shrines,” he said. “We were able to say precisely where they are and what manuscripts held in the Vatican detailed them being placed there.”
Here’s what they found: The remains of both patriarch saints had rested side by side in Constantinople before being taken to present-day Italy around the time of the Fourth Crusade. Eventually, the ancient bones were enshrined under side altars at St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City. Demacopoulos promptly faxed this information to the patriarch, who presented the letter to Vatican officials with his official request for the return of the relics. Pope JohnPaul II agreed, and the rest is history. On November 27, 2004, the pope presented the relics to the patriarch during a ceremony in St. Peter’s Basilica. Three days later, the relics were transported to Istanbul for a ceremony at the Cathedral of St. George, the seat of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. During the pilgrimage, Demacopoulos delivered a lecture on the lives of the two saints and received the patriarch’s personal thanks for helping to facilitate the return of the relics.
“My role is only a by-product of Fordham’s commitment to the Roman Catholic and Orthodox relationship,” Demacopoulos said at the time. “Fordham has historically been a place of cooperation between the two religions, and this sets up Fordham to be the logical foundation for further improvement.”
A Home for Orthodox Study
Fordham has had a long and vibrant relationship with the Orthodox Christian community, particularly in the New York metropolitan area. Generations of Orthodox students have chosen Fordham as a place to pursue a rigorous education that not only respects, but also encourages their faith. From 1967 until his death in 1992, the Rev. Dr. John Meyendorff, a renowned Orthodox scholar and educator, taught Byzantine history at the University. And Stella Moundas, longtime secretary to four Fordham presidents, helped the University strengthen its ties to her faith community while serving as a matron to many Orthodox students.
In recent years, Fordham’s relationship with the Orthodox community has grown even stronger. With support from the Office of Campus Ministry, the University established a chapter of the Orthodox Christian Fellowship, a student group, in 2004. Three years later, the Orthodox Christian Studies Program was born. Under the leadership of Papanikolaou and Demacopoulos, the program—the first of its kind at a major university in the United States—hosts the annual Orthodoxy in America lecture and gives students an opportunity to earn an interdisciplinary minor in Orthodox Christian studies. In addition, Papanikolaou and Demacopoulos are co-editors of Fordham University Press’ Orthodox Christianity and Contemporary Thought Series. The publication of the first book in the series—In the World, Yet Not of the World: Social and Global Initiatives of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew—coincided with the partriarch’s visit last fall.
“It’s the century where the Orthodox Church is really trying to rebuild its intellectual tradition, and Fordham is being recognized as becoming a part of that,” Papanikolaou said. “The fact that the patriarch came to Fordham was huge. It is absolutely a validation of what we are doing here.”
The program has also received considerable and growing support from individual members of the Orthodox community. Thanks to a generous gift from Michael and Mary Jaharis, Fordham established an endowed professorship—the Archbishop Demetrios Chair in Orthodox Theology and Culture. The Jaharises also have supported the Orthodoxy in America Lecture Series since its inception, in 2004. That same year, Solon and Marianna Patterson were among those who traveled to Istanbul to witness the return of the relics. It was on that pilgrimage that they met Demacopoulos and learned of Fordham’s role in the historic exchange. They later attended a Fordham conference on “Orthodox Readings of Augustine.” Sensing the potential of such academic gatherings to foster Orthodox-Catholic dialogue and understanding, they made a generous gift—and issued a challenge grant—to help Fordham establish a triennial conference examining Orthodox-Catholic relations.
Demacopoulos and Papanikolaou hope to continue to develop the program’s offerings, eventually establishing a center for Orthodox Christian studies at Fordham that might provide scholarships for students, fellowships for faculty and a study abroad program.
“We also want to provide a model that could be replicated at other institutions,” Demacopoulos said. “It can be done, if it’s done right.”
Indeed, the patriarch praised Fordham’s Orthodox Christian Studies Program during his address in the University Church last October.
“This program,” he said, “demonstrates a practical synergistic spirit, modeling for Orthodox and Roman Catholics everywhere a shared common purpose based in truth and love.”
Referring to both the nonviolent principles of Mahatma Gandhi and the civil rights activism of Martin Luther King Jr., the patriarch went on to say that the most “provocative message is loving our enemy and doing good to those who hate us.”
Moving words when one considers the unsteady state of religious freedom in Turkey, where successive governments have closed the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s schools and seized almost all of its property. Yet he continues to work to advance reconciliation and understanding among Muslim, Jewish and Christian communities.
“The patriarch is convinced that dialogue is a divine mandate, the only way forward in a world of division,” said the Rev. Dr. John Chryssavgis, theological adviser to the patriarch on environmental matters and editor of In the World, Yet Not of the World. “No tension or crisis seems to overwhelm or crush him. Every hurdle or barrier is an invitation to encounter and dialogue.”
The patriarch’s commitment to promoting dialogue and action on environmental issues is just as vigorous as his commitment to advancing religious tolerance. Each year, the “Green Patriarch,” as he has come to be known, leads a symposium on Religion, Science and the Environment. Just days prior to his Fordham visit, he was in New Orleans, where he led a large and diverse group of theologians, scientists, policymakers, environmentalists and journalists in a five-day symposium titled “Restoring Balance: The Great Mississippi River.”
In his Fordham speech, he described the international, interdisciplinary conferences as “an effort to raise awareness on regional ecological issues that have a global impact on our world.”
“After all,” he said, “we are convinced that recalling our minuteness in God’s wide and wonderful creation only underlines our central role in God’s plan for the salvation of the whole world.”
The Ecumenical Spirit
|The patriarch receives the Bartholomew Rose from Anne Neuendorf, president of the Orthodox Christian Fellowship at Fordham.Photo by Jon Roemer|
Fordham College at Rose Hill sophomore Anne Neuendorf, president of the Orthodox Christian Student Fellowship at Fordham, had the honor of presenting the patriarch with the Bartholomew Rose. Created to commemorate the patriarch’s visit to Fordham and to honor his commitment to environmental protection, the flower is designed to thrive in many harsh climates without the use of chemical pesticides.
“The fact that he took the time to single us out really meant a lot,” Neuendorf said. “Sometimes it can feel a bit isolating being an Orthodox Christian—especially when you grew up in the Midwest like I did. Meeting the head of the church made me feel connected.”
Evangelos Tsevdos, a sophomore in Fordham’s College of Business Administration, said meeting the patriarch was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
“Just his presence here was unbelievable,” Tsevdos said. “I liked his sense of humor—putting on the Fordham baseball cap that we gave him, for instance. It’s not something you’d expect to see from someone in such an esteemed position. It was amazing.”
The patriarch’s visit also struck a powerful chord with longtime members of the Fordham community, including Constantine Katsoris, GSB ’53, LAW ’57, the Wilkinson Professor of Law at Fordham.
“That entire night, I got the feeling that there was one God and one church,” Katsoris said. “That’s how ecumenism should be.”
—Gina Vergel is a staff writer for Inside Fordham.