Universal Authority in Flux: Primacy, Catholicity and World Governance

Joint panel by Institute of Ecumenical Studies, Ukrainian Catholic University and Superior Institute of Ecumenical Studies, Catholic Institute of Paris will be held on September 1, 2021


The event will take place in the first of September t 8.30am-10.45am.

Hybrid, DPL23.208/Philosophikum (Domplatz 23).

On March 27, 2020, Pope Francis appeared alone in a completely empty St. Peter’s Square to pray for the end of the pandemic. The event, described as Statio Orbis (the gathering of the world), was a moment in which the Pope appeared to be the only one who could speak on behalf of all humanity, asserting an authority that aspired to be totally universal. This panel aims to explore the question of universal authority—ecclesial and political—in the new context of technological development, ecological crisis, globalisation and ‘post-truth’. We approach this from a variety of angles. Several questions arise from the ecclesiological perspective. How this new context impacts the relationship between primacy and synodality, universality and particularity, the One and the Many? How does the fading of ecclesial mediation in the age of the internet reinforce the authority of the highest-ranking religious leaders? From the perspective of ecumenical theology, the question is of how the evolution of the universal and regional primacies affects their reception within and beyond their churches, and what reforms would enable such a reception? From the perspective of political theology, the question concerns the analogy between an articulation of universal leadership: Can primacy serve as a model in the discussion of changes in world governance, and vice-versa? What are the conditions of truth-telling in the age of fake news, from the perspective of universal leadership?


Peter De Mey (KU Leuven)


Fáinche Ryan (Trinity College Dublin), “Prudentia, Parrhesia and Decision-making”

Amphilochios Miltos (Theological Academy of Volos), “Primacy and Territoriality”

Luc Forestier (Catholic Institute of Paris) “Catholicity or Universality? Towards an Ecumenical Form of Governance for the Global Church”

Pavlo Smytsnyuk (Ukrainian Catholic University) “The Uneasy Business of Universality: Western and Eastern Struggles with Catholicity”

Joint panel by Institute of Ecumenical Studies, Ukrainian Catholic University and Superior Institute of Ecumenical Studies, Catholic Institute of Paris.

Short biographies

Prof. Peter De Mey (Dendermonde, 1966) is full Professor of Roman-Catholic ecclesiology and ecumenism at the Research Unit Systematic Theology and the Study of Religions, Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies, KU Leuven. He is involved in the Centre for Ecumenical Research, the Centre for the Study of the Second Vatican Council, and the Louvain Center for Eastern and Oriental Christianity. During 2004-2010, he was secretary and then president of Societas Oecumenica, the European Society for Ecumenical Research. Since 2005 he is a member of the Board of the National Commission for Ecumenism (and its president since 2010) and copresident of the Dialogue Commission with the United Protestant Church in Belgium. Peter De Mey publishes regularly in periodicals and collective volumes about the development of the Catholic view on ecumenism prior to Vatican II, the redaction history and interpretation of Lumen Gentium, Unitatis Redintegratio and Orientalium Ecclesiarum, post-conciliar Roman Catholic ecclesiology and ecclesiological themes in the bilateral and multilateral ecumenical dialogue.

Dr Fáinche Ryan is a lecturer in Systematic Theology at the Loyola Institute, Trinity College Dublin where she was Director from 2016 - 2020. Her work centres on the theology of Thomas Aquinas, ecclesiology, in particular questions of ministry and leadership - and theological anthropology. Her current research is on truth-telling and the virtue of prudentia.

Archimandrite Amphilochios Miltos (born in Volos in 1983) has studied Greek Philology and Theology at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens. With a scholarship of the Holy Synod of the Church of Greece and of the Catholic Committee for the Cultural cooperation of the Pontifical Council for the unity of the Christians, he did his postgraduate studies in Paris (2011-2017). He holds a Master’s Degree in History of Religions and a PhD in History (ParisSorbonne University); and Master’s Degree in dogmatic Theology and a PhD in Theology (Catholic Institute of Paris). His doctorate thesis (Catholic Collegiality and Orthodox Synodality) has been published in the collection of “Unam sanctam, nouvelle série” (Paris, Editions du Cerf). He serves as Secretary and parish priest of the Diocese of Demetrias (Volos, Greece) and is member of the Academic Team of the Volos Academy for the Theological Studies. He is also Member of the Joint International Commission for the Theological Dialogue between the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church.

Dr Luc Forestier, member of the French oratory, has been a student chaplain, parish priest, rector of a shrine, and professor of ecclesiology at the Theologicum, the Faculty of Theology and Religious Sciences at the Institut Catholique de Paris. Member of the Groupe des Dombes, he pursues his research in an ecumenical and interdisciplinary context on the reception of Vatican II, on synodality and ministries, as well as on the relations between Judaism and Christianity.

Dr Pavlo Smytsnyuk is the Director of the Institute of Ecumenical Studies at the Ukrainian Catholic University (UCU) in Lviv, and a Senior Lecturer at UCU’s Theology Faculty. He also lectures theology at St Thomas Aquinas Institute and Three Holy Hierarchs Theological Seminary in Kyiv. Pavlo studied Philosophy and Theology in Rome, Athens and St Petersburg, and holds a Doctorate from the University of Oxford. His main interests are in political theology, ecumenism, nationalism and religion, as well as colonial studies.