Over the past two days, two events which reveal the close ties of the Holy Metropolis of Demetrias and the Academy of Theological Studies of Volos with the Orthodox people of Estonia took place.
Specifically, on Sunday, 14 January 2024, the day that commemorates the martyr Saint Plato, the first Bishop of Tallinn before the conferral by the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Autonomy to the Church of Estonia, His Eminence Metropolitan Ignatios of Demetrias and Almyros concelebrated with His Eminence Metropolitan Stephanos of Tallinn and all Estonia, as well as with His Eminence Metropolitan Georgios of Peristeri, at the Holy Church of Saint Simeon and Saint Anna in Tallinn, Estonia. At the conclusion of the Divine Liturgy, Metropolitan Ignatios honoured Metropolitan Stefanos with the awarding of the Grand Cross, the Highest Honorary Distinction of the Metropolis of Demetrias, and relevant Honorary Diploma. The event was also attended by the Director of the Academy of Theological Studies of Volos, Dr. Pantelis Kalaitzidis.
As Metropolitan Ignatios emphasised, among other things, in his address, “Metropolitan Stephanos constantly gives witness to the Crucified and Risen Christ, speaking about the need for Orthodoxy to enter into a fruitful dialogue with the challenges of the modern world, for the need to pastorally respond to the existential needs of the post-modern person, and always having his gaze fixed on inter-Christian unity.” Metropolitan Ignatios emphasised the importance of the work of Metropolitan Stephanos for the strengthening of Orthodoxy in Estonia, the unity of the Orthodox and the recognition of the Autonomy of the Orthodox Church in Estonia, as well as for interreligious dialogue, the pastoral response to immigration, and the interaction of Orthodoxy with local culture.
In his response, His Eminence Metropolitan Stephanos of Tallinn and all Estonia, after thanking the delegation of the Metropolis of Demetrias for the honour offered to him, emphasised that throughout his ecclesiastical ministry he tried to function as a “servant” and “deacon” of Christ, prioritizing the unity of the Church and the needs of the flock. He also mentioned the difficulties he faced in trying to reconstitute the Autonomous Orthodox Church of Estonia. Metropolitan Stephanos, in turn, honoured His Eminence Metropolitan Ignatios of Demetrias and the Director of the Academy of Theological Studies with the Medal of Saint Plato (recognised by the Republic of Estonia) and with a relevant Diploma of Honour, for their assistance to the work of the Metropolis of Tallinn, its Theological Institute and the Orthodox Theology Program of the University of Tartu.
Following the visit to Estonia, on Monday, 15 January 2024, the Director of the Academy of Theological Studies in Volos, Pantelis Kalaitzidis, gave a lecture entitled “Orthodox Political Theology between neo-imperial illusions and contemporary challenges” at the University of Tartu.
In his address, Mr. Pantelis Kalaitzidis, after analysing the Trinitarian, Christological and Eucharistic basis of Orthodox political theology, emphasising its eschatological dimension and the reality of “being not of this world”, referred to its distortion through the substitution of eschatological waiting for justification within history and the change of the Church in shape and beginning of this century, as well as through perceptions of the idealisation of the idea of “agreement”, of the imperial past and of the Orthodox nation, which ultimately result in the heresy of ethnophyletism, balkanisation and the political instrumentalisation of Orthodoxy.
As an extreme example of these trends, Mr. Kalaitzidis mentioned the teaching of the “Russian world”, which is propagated by the Russian Church in “agreement” with the Putin regime and is the ideological basis of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. He then described the effort to reform this teaching through the relevant “Declaration” (here: https://tinyurl.com/yr4d7c43 ) signed by over 1500 academic theologians and church figures, and which formed the basis for further actions of the Orthodox clergy in Ukraine but also at the top level, in the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
The University of Tartu co-organises, together with the Volos Academy of Theological Studies and the Estonian Orthodox Church, the postgraduate program: “The Orthodox Church and Modern Challenges” which examines burning issues of the modern era that concern both the Orthodox and the Western world. The courses of this program started last September and will continue until June 2024, with distinguished Orthodox theologians from all over the world teaching. Details are given in the link http://tinyurl.com/3cdnybhk.