About the Conference

The intention behind this conference is to encourage and promote much needed theological engagement with regard to the furtherance of dialogue between Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Churches. During their history these Churches have endured a very complex and at times tense relationship with one another (and this not just theologically but also politically, e. g. the example of the Ukrainian context). We would seek to gather together official representatives of both Christian traditions, as well as theologians and politicians from the differing contexts where the tensions are greatest to see if we can help move dialogue and so relations forward in this area.

Conference theme will be: “Stolen Churches” or “Bridges to Orthodoxy”? Impulses for Theological Dialogue Between Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Churches.

We are aware that the theme may strike some as somewhat provocative but it serves the purpose to illustrate the differing and polarized positions on both sides with regard to the ecclesial status of Eastern Catholic Churches. This conference could help draw out the subjectivity of differing ecclesiological standpoints with regard to the status of these churches and therefore help move toward an ecumenically oriented breakthrough in understanding. As you know well, some Orthodox refer to them as “stolen”, regardless of historical accuracy, whereas on the Catholic side they are seen as bridges to the Orthodox traditions (a perspective which, again, many Orthodox strongly reject). In delving deeper into what shapes and maintains differing ecclesiological perspectives, partners in dialogue might come to appreciate the sources of divisions and the sensitivities involved in helping to overcome ecclesial stand-offs of key historical moments as well as in recent decades.

The event would be a joint initiative between the Academy Rottenburg-Stuttgart, Ecclesiological Investigations International Research Network (EI Network, see www.ei-research.net) and many additional partners. More detailed information about past events organised by the EI can be viewed concerning our Assisi 2012 event, involving over 255 participant from 55 different nations: Where We Dwell in Common: Pathways for Dialogue in the 21stCentury, our 2013 event Religion, Authority and the State: From Constantine to the Secular and Beyond; our Oxford 2014 conference on Hope in the Ecumenical Future,; and our 2015 gathering at Georgetown University and the Washington National Cathedral: Vatican II: Remembering the Future – Ecumenical, Interfaith and Secular Explorations of the Council’s Legacy and Promise at which Cardinals Tauran and Tagle spoke and Cardinal Kasper spoke and presided and preached (you can finds videos of the plenary sessions alongside photos from throughout the event’s duration on these websites).

In July, 2016 we met in China, in Hong Kong to explore Christianity and Religions in China: Past, Present, Future, where, among our keynote speakers were the Anglican Archbishop Paul Kwong, Bishop Michael Yeung of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Hong Kong and a host of scholars and practitioners from around the globe – we were especially pleased that a majority of presentations were by those working in or working on Asian contexts. Our most recent events commemorated the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, taking the theme of The Reformation and Global Reconciliation, held in Germany at the University of Jena in 2017 and The Church and Migration: Global In-Difference?, which was organized with multiple ecumenical partners at the University of Toronto in June, 2018 and was opened by Cardinal Collins. Other events have taken place in Dayton-Ohio (US), Leuven (Belgium), Utrecht (Netherlands), Durham (England), Hawarden (Wales) and Kottayam (India).