IES at an Ecumenical Conference in Bose, Italy

2019-10-28 12:45

An international ecumenical conference on the theology of freedom, organized jointly by the Community of Bose and St. Andrew’s Biblical Theological Institute, was held from 23 to 26 October 2019 in Bose.

The conference was opened by Jürgen Moltmann, Professor Emeritus of the University of Tübingen, and one of most distinguished living Christian theologians. Prof. Moltmann spoke on various dimensions of human freedom in the presence of God.

The conference was attended by Dr Pavlo Smytsnyuk, the Director of the Institute of Ecumenical Studies. Dr Smytsnyuk delivered a paper entitled “Freedom from fear: Can a wounded church heal a wounded world?”. The paper explored the interrelation between freedom and fear. Freedom, understood as a possibility to act without constraint, is heavily undermined by fear. The modern world, permeated by fear, is a clear illustration of this malaise. Drawing on Martha Nussbaum’s recent book The Monarchy of Fear (2018), Pavlo pointed out to what extent Brexit and Trump's election - besides being based on real issues linked to rising inequality and integration of immigrants - heavily draw on fear. Nussbaum lists several remedies for fear, one of which is religion. The problem, however, is that religion is far from being immune to fear. Drawing on Jürgen Moltmann and Christos Yannaras’ reflections, Pavlo illustrated mechanisms through which fear is cherished as the very foundation of both certain forms of religiosity and ecclesial institutions. Part of the problem is that many of our practices and institutions have been functioning as a reaction against the anxiety of losing control over one’s own life and that of others. Dr Smytsnyuk suggest ways in which freedom can take over from fear as the basis of a Christian ethos and political action.  

A paper on freedom in the context of Maidan and post-communist society was delivered by Rev. Prof. Mychajlo Dymyd, from the Faculty of Philosophy and Theology of Ukrainian Catholic University.

The proceedings of the conference will be published in St. Andrew’s quarterly Pages: Theology, Culture, Education.



Text-Pavlo Smytsnyuk

Photo - Natalia Vasilievich