The Foundation of St. Andrew the First-Called and the Metropolia of Patras of the Greek Orthodox Church held the International Conference on “The Voice of Saint Andrew the First-Called in the Modern World” in Patras, Greece. Participants discussed probable answers to the “challenges of the modern world” – for example, “dissolution of civilizational identity of Europe”. The Conference aims to demonstrate to the Western world that no sanctions will be able to destruct the Eastern- Christian relations.
Several hundreds of people including representatives of almost all local Orthodox Christian churches, politicians, public and religious actors gathered at the University of Patras to discuss the problems the Eastern-Christian world was facing. “The goal of the event is to combine efforts of representatives of the Eastern-Christian world in order to develop common answers to the challenges of the modern world such as the dissolution of civilizational identity of present-day Europe, destruction of family institution, redefining of the nature and the purpose of a human being” – organizers of the Conference explained to «Ъ».
“The crisis of self-identification of nations and states is quite an important tendency of the world development. It is caused by dissolution of value orientations public life is based on” – Vladimir Yakunin, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Foundation of St. Andrew the First-Called, said during his plenary report. “First of all, such a crisis is the threat for sovereignty of states in political, economic, spiritual and other spheres”. According to Vladimir Yakunin, “it happens more and more often when, as far as supranational centres are concerned, the authorities reveal themselves through attempts to intrude into the internal sphere of life and interests of this or that state”. “Negative features of globalization processes are getting more and more obvious: growth of conflicts and social inequality, growing disproportions in the world development ” – said Vladimir Yakunin with confidence. “Tendencies of the kind are opposed by public, cultural and scientific initiatives which are implemented by both the church and public communities in the Orthodox Christian world. That is why it is so important to combine our efforts when facing the common challenges”.
Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpactos (Greek Orthodox Church) sadly stated that for a present-day person churches are replaced by banks and stock exchange. When it was turn of Metropolitan Chrysostom of Patras to speak, he urged to oppose the consumer society with the help of the word of God. Also at the Conference representatives from Greece, Bulgaria, Serbia and Ukraine discussed the problems of morality.
Participants of the Conference also mentioned the topic of the persecution of Christians. Representative of Patriarch of Jerusalem Metropolitan Timotheos of Vostra told about the persecution of Christians in the Middle East. Metropolitan Luke of Zaporozhye and Melitopol told about the hardships of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate. According to him, since 2014 the Church has been suffering from a lot of difficulties: the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate is discriminated by nationalists; they have complicated relations with state authorities who see the church as competitors.
“International conferences like this one, when active leaders from civic society and from the church are involved, are important events” – said Sergey Gavrilov, Chairman of the State Duma Committee for Development of Civil Society, Public Affairs and Religious Communities, to “Ъ”. “This Conference solves the problem of overcoming the external blockage as Russian relations with European partners became dependent on political decisions which are made overseas as well. Currently not only relations between official bodies but also relations between parliaments and political parties are facing serious crisis”. According to Mr.Gavrilov, “now it is important to restore relations in the field of civil communities including the church”.
“They are trying to isolate Russia on the international arena, to declare it once again to be the Empire of Evil, the enemy number one for the entire educated humanity” – Vladimir Bushuyev, Director of the Foundation of St. Andrew the First-Called, said to “Ъ”. “Russia remains to be the pillar of spirituality and morality. They understand it very well and that is why they are attacking”. According to Vladimir Bushuyev, “the Conference is demonstration of the power”. In this respect he noted that not only Russia but entire Eastern-Christian civilization faced the global challenge. “Dissolution of traditional values is taking place” – said Mr.Bushuyev. “We see development of the world along with its diversity. We want every country to be unique in terms of the culture and the language. We are in favour of sovereignty of territories”. “The problem related to preserving traditions and cultural identity has become the key one for Europeans amid the migration crisis, changes of ethnic and confessional structure of population in EU countries” – stated Roman Lunkin, head of the Centre for Studies of Religion and Society at the Institute of Europe of RAS. “The conference shows to the Western world that no sanctions will be able to destruct common Christian roots and values which are stronger than any financial and political leverages”.
Pavel Korobov “Коммерсантъ”, Patras