Thursday, November 5, 2015

Talk: Religion in Dialogue by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew

To mark the fifth anniversary of Pope Benedict VXI’s visit, St Mary’s University (Twickenham, London) welcomed His All Holiness, Bartholomew, Archbishop of Constantinople – New Rome and the Ecumenical Patriarch, who delivered the inaugural St Mary’s Lecture ‘Religion in Dialogue: The Importance and Imperative of Dialogue in our World.’
The Event took place at St Mary’s University Chapel on Wednesday 4th November 2015 at 12.30pm. A choir accompanied the event, singing beautifully. The event began with a message from the Chair of St Mary’s University Board of Governors, Rt Rev Richard Moth, Bishop of Arundel and Brighton, who said: ‘It is an honour to receive His-All Holiness on behalf of our Chancellor Cardinal Vincent Nichols. This is a day of great joy for the University community. Universal Christian values unite us and the presence of the Ecumenical Patriarch reminds us of our common cause. Our prayer today will be to ask for the wisdom to improve our understanding of faith in the modern world.’ Following this small introduction a student representative also greeted Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew.

The Ecumenical Patriarch gave an interesting lecture. Here we will give a brief summary of this lecture. The Archbishop of Constantinople began by explaining what freedom was. Freedom is not only personal, but it is achieved in the interpersonal. To refuse to share (with others and with the world) is to refuse liberty. We should aspire to become a living icon of the Trinity, which is in Communion. Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew gave a brief analysis of the Orthodox-Roman Catholic Dialogue and later he gave an additional exegesis of the dialogues and relations between the Ecumenical Patriarchate and other religions, showing that interfaith and inter-Christian dialogues are important for the Ecumenical Patriarchate and for Orthodoxy in general.
Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew pointed out the significance of dialogue. Dialogue does not exist to serve our positions and our arguments. Dialogue shows our love and honesty to each other. Dialogue implies equality and humility, leaving arrogance aside. True dialogue is a gift from God. According to St John Chrysostom, God is in personal dialogue with human beings. Additionally, dialogue does not only involve people, but the whole world, creation in general. He showed the relationship between dialogue and the environment, an issue close to his heart which has given him the title ‘Green Patriarch.’ According to His-All Holiness, the environment is a spiritual and religious issue. Moreover, each discipline and science can contribute towards this dialogue, in respect to the environment. He wished to highlight that we will all be judged by our treatment and delicacy we show to each other but also towards the earth, towards creation.

Dialogue, according to the Ecumenical Patriarch, does not come without risks and difficulties. Will we ‘loose’? Will we have to compromise? What are the fruits of dialogue? When one surrenders to the possibility of dialogue something sacred happens; something far greater than us takes over. Despite our differences, dialogue brings us closer to one another.
After the lecture, the Vice-Chancellor, Francis Campbell, gave a message, claiming: ‘To celebrate the fifth anniversary of Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to St Mary’s, we are privileged to welcome and award the Ecumenical Patriarch with the St Mary’s Pope Benedict XVI medal on a proud day for our University. It is an historic occasion and one that, I hope, will encourage wider religious debate. Encouraging dialogue between faiths and denominations is a primary ambition for our University and I believe this will help to bring together the Catholic and Orthodox Churches.’

After this short message the Ecumenical Patriarch was awarded with the St Mary’s Pope Benedict XVI Medal, the highest honour the University can give, and the first time it has given such honour to anyone. Light refreshments followed this great event. 

For more pictures and information in Greek please see:  and
This article is also published on the Archdiocese of Thyateira and Great Britain site: 

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