The specifics of the conference in 2014

The specific goal for the 14th Assumption Readings Conference in 2014 was to raise and discuss the topic of COMMUNION-COMMUNIO-KOINONIA: Sources, Ways of Understanding and Embodiment. The conference took place at a time when the world was mostly following war events in the East of Ukraine, and some of the invited participants decided not to come to Kyiv because they were concerned with the instability of the political and social situation. However, the impression that the conference produced on those who participated was so profound that Fr. Antoine Lambrechts summarized it in quite an affirming statement: “I hope that the fall of 2014 in Ukraine will be primarily remembered for the Assumption Readings conference.”

Of course, the current Ukrainian situation influenced the meeting. A guided tour around the Kyivan Maidan (the capital’s central square, which was the epicenter of the revolutionary events in November 2013 – February 2014) preceded its opening. It was conducted by direct participants of the Ukrainian Revolution of Dignity among the “Dukh i Litera” collaborators and constituted the main part of the cultural program.  During the course of the conference the Maidan events were directly or indirectly discussed, and there were addressed in many of the conference reports. 

Another dramatic distinction of this year’s symposium was the absence of the  Metropolitan VLADIMIR of Kyiv and all Ukraine who passed away last summer. From the very beginning the Assumption Readings were inspired by the prayers and active participation of this unique bishop, who many already consider a saint. In 2014 we started the conference’s opening by showing a video of his address to the participants of the “Assumption Readings” recorded last year. It was a symbol of our intention to continue the Assumption Readings in the spirit of his vision of the Church and the ecumenical dialogue.

The Topic

The topic we chose for 2014  conference,  communion, was related to  one of the most fundamental Christian insights. Already in the New Testament communion not only meant the fullness of Church life (Acts 2:42), but also referred to the personal communion and unity of the faithful with the Persons of the Triune God (1 John, 1:3; Corinthians 1, 1:9; Corinthians 2, 13:13) and the central sacrament of the Church – the Eucharistic communion of the Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ (Corinthians 1, 10:16). In the Apostolic Creed, the confession of the faith in the communio sanctorum, “the communion of saints”, followed the confession of the faith in the Church, thus revealing the very essence of the Church: it is the unity and communication of Christians in Christ Jesus.

In 2014 we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Decree on Ecumenism of the Second Vatican council Unitatis Redintegratio. At the memorable forum, dedicated to the 40th anniversary of the Decree (Rocca di Papa, 2004), Walter Cardinal Kasper said that “the main task of the Second Vatican council and, in particular, of the Decree on Ecumenism, was communio.” Other reports at that forum (those of Kurt Cardinal Koch, Metropolitan John Zizioulas, and the abbot of the Monastery of Bose Enzo Bianchi, among others) were also structured around communion as the key to the regeneration of unity among Christians. For many contemporary Christian thinkers and actors the term communion has become a source for inspiration and creativity.

Thus, at the Assumption Readings we invited the participants to discuss the following aspects of this topic:

  • Theological sources of communion: God the Trinity, the economy of salvation, the Scripture, and Church tradition.
  • Сommunion and the social thought of the fathers of the Church and its relevance for today
  • Eucharistic communion in the past and today; its meaning for understanding and solving of the problems of contemporary life
  • The role of the term communion in the ecumenical movement
  • Сommunion and solitude: the monastic heritage of the East and the West and its legacy
  • The relevance of communion for the Humanities
  • The role of the Christian term communion in overcoming of the crisis of contemporaryculture
  • Сommunion and the problem of the passing of Christian values in the contemporary world.

Mostly, the presenters spoke within the framework of the topics suggested above. Their presentations covered such topics as communion with God, communion and the Eucharist, communion in the Church, communion and communication between the Churches, patristic interpretations of koinonia. Also emphasized were new problems and opportunities connected with communion and communication in the contemporary world, the interpretation of communion brought by the 20th century, the role of the Second Vatican Council and of contemporary Catholic and Orthodox theologians in the understanding of communion. Significant attention was paid to the understanding of communion in literature and the arts.

The Participants

Among the 43 participants of the “Assumption Readings” in 2014 were representatives of the Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Greek Catholic (or Ukrainian Catholic), and Protestant  Churches. A significant part of them were world-recognized international experts, which gave Ukrainian audiences a chance to get first hand insights of the best achievements of Christian theology worldwide. At that, there was a parity between Catholic and Orthodox participants, which guaranteed a fruitful ecumenical dialogue. Below you may find a list of the participants according to confessions:

Orthodox

  1. Metropolitan Onuphrius of Kyiv and All Ukraine, Primate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church
  2. Metropolitan Anthony (PAKANYCH) of Boryspil and Brovary, Chancellor of the UOC, Rector of the Kyiv Theological Academy and Seminary
  3. Metropolitan Alexander (DRABYNKO) of Pereyaslav-Khmelnitsky and Vyshnevsky (UOC)
  4. Metropolitan Augustine (MARKEVYCH) of Bohuslav and Bila Tserkva, Chief Chaplain of UOC
  5. Bishop Hilary (SHYSHKOVSKYI) of Makariv, Vicar of the Kyiv Metropolia (UOC)
  6. Bishop Philaret (KUCHEROV) of Lviv and Galicia (UOC)
  7. Bishop Clement (VECHERYA) of Irpin, Head of the Information Committee of the Holy Synod of UOC
  8. Rev. Dr. Cyril (HOVORUN), Researcher at Yale University (USA), Associate Dean for Political Ecclesiology at Sankt Ignatios Theological Academy (Stockholm)
  9. Rev. George KOVALENKO, Head of the Education Department at the Holy Synod of the UOC
  10. Rev. Dr. Bohdan OHULCHANSKYI, Secretary of the All-Ukrainian Pedagogical Society, Kyiv
  11. Rev. Dr. Vasilly (Karl Christian) FELMY, Member of the Commission of the Lutheran World Union for the Dialogue with Orthodoxy, Erlangen, Germany
  12. Prof. Dr. Alexander FILONENKO, Assistant Professor of Philosophy of the Kharkiv State University, Kharkiv, Ukraine
  13. Rev. Arseniy SOKOLOV, Representative of the Patriarch Cyril of Moscow at the Patriarchate of Antioch, Beirut
  14. Dr. Michael HJALM, Dean at Saint Ignatios Orthodox Theological Academy, Stockholm
  15. Prof. Dr. Sergey KHORUZHY, Academician of the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences, Professor of the Department for comparative study of religious traditions at UNESCO
  16. Prof. Dr. Irina BAGRATION-MUKHRANELI, Professor of Literature at Saint Tikhon’s Orthodox University, Moscow
  17. Dr. Igor SAKHAROV, Director of the Institute for Genealogy Research of the Russian National Library (St. Petersburg)
  18. Dr. Serhiy BORTNYK, Instructor of the Kyiv Theological Academy, collaborator of the Committee for External Church Relations of UOC, Kyiv
  19. Dr. Daria MOROZOVA, Senior Research Fellow of the European Humanities Research Center, Kyiv

Catholic

  1. Archbishop Petro MALCHUK O.F.M., Bishop of the Kyiv-Zhytomyr Diocese of the RСC in Ukraine
  2. Rev. Dr.  Francesco BRASCHI, Director of the Slavistics Department of the Ambrosiana Academy (Accademia Ambrosiana) in Milan
  3. Rev. Wojciech SURÓWKA OP, Rector of the St. Thomas Aquinas Institute of Religious Studies in Kyiv
  4. Rev. Philipp VANDERHEYDE, Abbot of the Chevetogne Abbey, Belgium
  5. Rev. Antoine LAMBRECHTS, Librarian of the Chevetogne Abbey, Belgium
  6. Prof. Dr. Adriano DELL’ASTA, Professor of Russian Literature and Culture of the Catholic University of Milan, Italy
  7. Rev. Dr. Piotr OKTABA OP, St. Thomas Aquinas Institute of Religious Studies in Kyiv
  8. Adalberto MAINARDI, Monastic Community of Bose, Italy
  9. Brother RICHARD, Taize Community, France
  10. Rev. Fiorenzo E. REATI, Brescia, Italy
  11. Rev. Petro BALOG OP St. Thomas Aquinas Institute of Religious Studies in Kyiv
  12. Prof. Dr. Anne-Marie PELLETIER, University of Paris X, College des Bernardins, Paris
  13. Prof. Dr. Francoise LESOURD, Professor of Russian Literature at Université Jean Moulin Lyon 3, Lyon
  14. Prof. Dr. Elena GLAZOV-CORRIGAN, Professor of Literature at Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, the USA
  15. Dr. Elena MAZZOLA, Communione e Liberazzione Movement, Saint Tikhon's Orthodox University, Moscow
  16. Dr. Marek KITA, Professor of the Pontifical University in Krakow
  17. Davide NAVARRIA, Doctoral student of the Catholic University of Milan
  18. Maria VELIKANOV, Ph.D. student in Metz-St. Petersburg
  19. Dr. Kateryna RASSUDINA, Secretary of the St. Thomas Aquinas Institute of Religious Studies in Kyiv
  20. Dr. Tatiana KOCHETKOVA, Leiden, the Netherlands
  21. Dr. Olivier VEDRINE, Rector of the Continental University in Kyiv, Advisor to Henri Malosse, the President of the European Economic and Social Committee, concerning the development of relations within the civil society of Ukraine
  22. Rev. Dr. Mykhajlo DYMYD, Director of the Institute for Ecclesiatical Law of the Ukrainian Catholic University, Head of the Ukrainian Theological Scholarly Society, Lviv (Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church)
  23. Rev. Dr. Oleg KINDIY, Deputy Dean of the Theology Department of the Ukrainian Catholic University, Lviv (UGCC)
  24. Rev. Dr. Ihor SHABAN, Head of the Commission for Christian Collaboration of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church

A few attendees from abroad came as conference guests without preparing presentations or moderating sessions. However, they took active part in the conference discussions. Among them were priest of the French-speaking Holy Trinity parish in the crypt of St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral Rev. Alexei Struve and his wife Anna Struve (Paris), Head of the Linguistics Department of the Catholic University of Milan Prof. Dr. Anna Bonola and Prof. Dr. Maurizia Calusio of the same department, Brother Georg Kubina and two Taize volunteers from Germany and France, three representatives of Communione e Liberazzione movement from Milan, and five guests from different ecclesial and academic institutions in Belarus.

The collaborators of the European Humanities Research Center headed by Dr. Kostyantyn Sigov, and of its partner organization St. Clement’s Center, headed by Vadym Zalevsky, participated in all the events  of the conference as well.

The Program

The traditional opening of the conference took place on Sunday, September 21, after the festive liturgy, in the Great Assembly Hall of the Kyiv Theological Academy located in the Holy Assumption Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra. It was preceded by a prayer at the grave of the late Metropolitan Vladimir.

The conference session was opened by the welcoming address of Metropolitan Onuphrius of Kyiv and All Ukraine. As a participant of the Assumption Readings in 2005, he was already familiar with the context of the conference. As a follower of Metropolitan Vladimir he assured Dr. Sigov of his support of the conference’s goals and aspirations, which is vital for EHRC in the perspective of future projects in collaboration with UOC.

Although Metropolitan Onuphrius could not attend the conference’s opening in person because that day he had to visit a diocese outside Kyiv, his representative Bishop Clement (Vecherya) of Irpin, Head of the Information Committee of the Holy Synod of UOC, delivered the Metropolitan’s greeting and warmly welcomed the guests.

The communion and conciliar character of the Church was embodied in the presence of many bishops. In the tradition of the previous years, the greeting of the Metropolitan Anthony (Pakanych) of Boryspil and Brovary, Rector of the Kyiv Theological Academy and Seminary(UOC), followed the greeting of Metropolitan Onuphrius.

The next speaker was Archbishop Petro Malchuk O.F.M., of the Kyiv-Zhytomyr Diocese (RCC), who has been a regular guest of the conference for several years now. Prior to the beginning of the Assumption Readings and during the coffee break he had a chance to speak with quite a few Orthodox, Catholic and Greek Catholic participants to discuss current issues of the ecumenical and political situation in Ukraine.

Archbishop Petro was followed by Bishop Philaret (Kucherov) of Lviv and Galicia (UOC), who received the conference’s participants at a private dinner one day prior to the opening. One day later he moderated some of the conference’s sessions in the St. Thomas Institute for Religious Studies. His eager involvement in the Assumption readings became a testimony of the growing ecumenical understanding among the Orthodox clergy. The latter also included Metropolitan Augustine (Markevych) of Bila Tserkva and Bohuslav, Chief Chaplain of the UOC, who was happy to moderate some of the Assumption Readings sessions in the St. Thomas of Aquinas Institute.

The opening day at the Holy-Assumption Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra ended with two excellent presentations: Adalberto Mainardi, a brother of the Monastery of Bose, spoke on Theology of Communication and the Way towards Unity and Rev. Cyril (Hovorun), a Ukrainian scholar currently working at Yale University,  discussed the Ecclesiology of Communication as a Common Language of Church Traditions. He emphasized that the dialogue between Christians in the contemporary world should not develop on the basis of an artificially constructed ecumenical Esperanto but rather stem from live confessional ecclesiologies, open towards others.

The audience of the opening included professors and students of Kyiv Theological Academy, those of Ukrainian secular academic and higher education institutions, parishioners of Holy Assumption Kyiv Pechersk Lavra and other Kyiv parishes, Christians of different denominations who learned about the conference online or through personal contacts.

All presentations during day one and during the following days were accompanied by simultaneous translation into English, French, or Italian language so international participants and guests could better understand the proceedings.

Day one of the Conference in the Holy Assumption Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra

In Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra before the Opening

In Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra before the Opening

At the grave of the late Metropolitan Vladimir

At the grave of the late Metropolitan Vladimir

The presentation of the Bishop Philaret (Kucherov) of Lviv and Galicia

The presentation of the Bishop Philaret (Kucherov) of Lviv and Galicia

The presentation of Archbishop Petro Malchuk of Kyiv-Zhytomyr Diocese (RCC)

The presentation of Archbishop Petro Malchuk of Kyiv-Zhytomyr Diocese (RCC)

Archbishop Petro Malchuk meets Bishop Philaret (Kucherov)

Archbishop Petro Malchuk meets Bishop Philaret (Kucherov)

Presentation by Adalberto Mainardi  (Monastic Community of Bose)

Presentation by Adalberto Mainardi
(Monastic Community of Bose)

The audience of conference, including the students of the Kyiv Theological Academy (UOC)

The audience of conference, including the students of the Kyiv Theological Academy (UOC)

During the coffee-break at the terrace of the building where the opening took place

During the coffee-break at the terrace of the building where the opening took place

Days two and three of the conference took place in the St. Thomas Institute of Religious Studies, which is run by the Dominican community of Kyiv. Thanks to close contacts of EHRC with the Institute and the Community, the conference sessions held there had a warm family atmosphere.  The presentations were grouped according to their themes (see the program). Two or three presentations (given by representatives of the Catholic and Orthodox Churches) were followed by a discussion and then a coffee-break. Thus, one day contained from 8 to 10 presentations. All agreed this format was most comfortable for everyone. Common prayers and common meals – agape – provided a festive concreteness to the topic of koinonia.

The conference was open to students of the Institute, as well as to anyone interested in its topic and participants. We were especially glad to welcome young people from Kyiv who came with two Taize volunteers from Germany and France to attend presentations of brother Richard of Taize and other participants.

The spectrum of the presentations ranged from the hesychast experience of communion in the report of the Academician of the Russian Academy of Sciences Prof. Dr. Sergey Khoruzhy (Moscow) to reflections on the patristic interpretation of koinonia in the presentation of the Deputy Head of the Theology Department of the Ukrainian Catholic University Rev. Dr. Oleh Kindy (Lviv), to the communion inspired by Vatican II in the report by Prof. Dr. Anne-Marie Pelletier (Paris), the first woman to receive the Ratzinger Prize.

Days two and three at St. Thomas Institute

Discussion of the presentations by Prof. Dr. Alexander Filonenko (Kharkiv), Dr. Elena Mazzola (Moscow) and Rev. Wojcieh Surowka (Kyiv).  Session moderated by Bishop Hilary of Makariv (UOC)

Discussion of the presentations by Prof. Dr. Alexander Filonenko (Kharkiv), Dr. Elena Mazzola (Moscow) and Rev. Wojcieh Surowka (Kyiv).

Session moderated by Bishop Hilary of Makariv (UOC)

The audience in the St. Thomas institute of Religious Studies

The audience in the St. Thomas institute of Religious Studies

 

Presentation by Rev. Petro Balog OP (Kyiv).  Session moderated by Metropolitan Augustine (Markevych) and Rev. Cyrill (Hovorun)

Presentation by Rev. Petro Balog OP (Kyiv).
Session moderated by Metropolitan Augustine (Markevych) and Rev. Cyrill (Hovorun)
 

Discussion of the reports by Rev. Olivier Peyron (Lyon), on the left, and Prof. Dr. Sergey Khoruzhiy (Moscow), on the right. Session moderated by Rev. Antoine Lambrechts (Chevetogne)

Discussion of the reports by Rev. Olivier Peyron (Lyon), on the left, and Prof. Dr. Sergey Khoruzhiy (Moscow), on the right. Session moderated by Rev. Antoine Lambrechts (Chevetogne)

Presentation by Rev. Dr. Vassily  (Carl Christian) Felmy (Erlangen)

Presentation by Rev. Dr. Vassily
(Carl Christian) Felmy (Erlangen)

Presentation by Dr. Elena Mazzola (Milan-Moscow), moderated by Bishop Hilary (Shyshkovsky)

Presentation by Dr. Elena Mazzola (Milan-Moscow), moderated by Bishop Hilary (Shyshkovsky)

Discussions during a coffee-break

Discussions during a coffee-break

A question by a guest from Minsk, Belarus

A question by a guest from Minsk, Belarus

Day two ended with the presentation of the Russian translation of the book Biblical Readings (Lectures bibliques) by the Ratzinger Prize winner Prof. Dr. Anne-Marie Pelletier issued by “Dukh i Litera” (Spirit and Letter) Research and Publishing Association. The book was published a few days before the conference started.

The author was among the participants of the conference and took part in the presentation, together with Dr. Igor Sakharov (St. Petersburg, the husband of the late translator Natalia Sakharova), Rev. Antoine Lambrechts (the Librarian of the Chevetogne monastery), and Dr. Kostyantyn Sigov. The architect of this translation project was late Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger, who visited Natalia Sakharova in St. Petersburg during the perestroika. The discussion of the book gave room for very sincere testimonies of Christian friendships and became one of the most memorable events of the conference.

Information on the book and a fragment for reading are available at the website of “Dukh i LItera”. The book was part of the Bibliotheca Clementina series of St.Clement’s Center (Kyiv). It was financially supported by RENOVABIS and KIRCHE IN NOT.

Presentation of the Lectures bibliques by Anne-Marie Pelletier

The fourth day of the conference took place in the premises of the National University of "Kyiv-Mohyla Academy," which testified to the recognition of the conference in the secular academic field. During the first half of the day, presentations were divided into two sections: Section 1: Person and Communication and Section 2: Communication in Culture (four presentations in each section), which ran simultaneously. 

The second half of the day started with the presentation of Metropolitan Alexander (Drabynko), who was the Personal Secretary of the late Metropolitan Vladimir. He gave an account of the spiritual path of the late Metropolitan, demonstrating the Metropolitan’s openness towards people of any nation and confession in the true spirit of the Gospel. It was perceived by many as the will of the Metropolitan addressed to all. This presentation was followed by one of the most ecumenical reports delivered by a Greek-Catholic priest Mykhailo Dymyd (Lviv) titled The Fullness of Orthodoxy Implies the Fullness of Eucharistic Hospitality.

After two more presentations, the conference concluded with the round table The Topicality of Communication in the Light of Our Experience. The participants of the round table included representatives of the Orthodox, Catholic and Greek Catholic Churches, who openly raised provocative topics relating to ecumenical and political communication and reconciliation. However, most valuable here was the general recognition of fundamental Christian unity among all who spoke.

Most memorable at the round table was the speech of Rev. Bohdan Ohulchansky (UOC, Kyiv). It was a moving appeal for forgiveness addressed to the Greek (Ukrainian) Catholics for the pseudo-council of 1946 in Lviv, and, in a wider sense, a call to the praxis of metanoia and forgiveness as a way to the deepening of communion.

Day Four in the National University of “Kyiv-Mohyla Academy”

Section 1. Presentation by Dr. Marek Kita (Krakow)

Section 1. Presentation by Dr. Marek Kita (Krakow)

Section 1. Presentation by Rev. Dr. Bohdan Ohulchanskyi (moderated by Rev. Dr. Vassily Felmy)

Section 1. Presentation by Rev. Dr. Bohdan Ohulchanskyi (moderated by Rev. Dr. Vassily Felmy)

Section 2. Presentation by Irina Bagration-Muhraneli (Moscow)

Section 2. Presentation by Irina Bagration-Muhraneli (Moscow)

Audience at Section 2

Audience at Section 2
 

Presentation by Metropolitan Alexander (Drabinko), Kyiv

Presentation by Metropolitan Alexander (Drabinko), Kyiv

Group photo with Orthodox Bishops and Fathers from Chevetogne Abbey (Belgium)

Group photo with Orthodox Bishops and Fathers from Chevetogne Abbey (Belgium)

Presentation by Rev. Mykhailo Dymyd

Presentation by Rev. Mykhailo Dymyd

 

Concluding Round Table The Topicality of Communication  in the Light of Our Experience

Concluding Round Table
The Topicality of Communication
in the Light of Our Experience

Brother Richard from Taize  speaking at the round table

Brother Richard from Taize
speaking at the round table

 

Rev. Philipp Vanderheyde at the round table. Sitting: Rev. Ihor Shaban and Dr. Constantin Sigov

Rev. Philipp Vanderheyde at the round table.

Sitting: Rev. Ihor Shaban and Dr. Constantin Sigov

In order to have a better picture of the topics of the conference, here are selected titles of  conference reports:

Anne-Marie Pelletier (Paris)

Vivre la koinonia sous l’inspiration de Vatican II

Sergey Horuzhy (Moscow)

Communication and Contemplation: Verbal and Visual Discourses in the Spiritual Ascent

Bishop Philaret of Lviv and Galicia (Lviv, Ukraine)

Prayer as a Way of Communicating with God

Rev. Georgy Kovalenko (Kyiv)

Christian Community and Communication within it in the Age of the Development of Communication Technologies

Rev. Oleh Kindy (Lviv, Ukraine)

Theantropical Synergy of Divine Philanthropy and Christian Koinonia in the Treatise of Clement of Alexandria Quis dives salvetur

Rev. Mykhaylo Dymyd (Lviv, Ukraine)

The Fullness of Orthodoxy Implies the Fullness of Eucharistic Hospitality

Rev. Wojciech Surówka OP, Rector of the St. Thomas Institute of Religious Sciences (Kyiv)

Christian Understanding of Fraternity

Rev. Fiorenzo Emilio Reati (Brescia, Italy)

The Notion of the Catholic Church as Koinonia during the Second Vatican Council
(Yves Congar)

Rev. Francesco Braschi (Milan, Italy)

La koinonia/Communio negli scritti di Ambrogio di Milano: un dono da costruire, una Grazia donata

Deacon Vasilly (Karl Christian) Felmy (Germany)

Die «koinvonía tôn agíôn» bei Werner Elert und die eucharistische Ekklesiologie bei Metropolit Ioannis Zizioulas. Ein fruchtbares Mißverständnis

For the full program of the conference please see the website of the St. Clement’s Center.

Outcomes of the project

Although the war in the eastern Ukraine wages on, there is reason to hope for reconciliation. One of them is that in the fall 2014 in Kyiv, the place which some believe to be a source of conflict, there is room for people of different confessions and various views to meet in the blissful atmosphere of a theological symposium and share, directly or through an interpreter, the most cherished thoughts on the most important mysteries. The exploration of the topic of communion-koinonia was especially favourable for such a forum.

Because everyone realized the difficulty of the situation in Ukraine and globally, international and Ukrainian participants and guests were more attentive to each other, which resulted in the deepening of many friendships and acquaintances. The deepening of personal contacts is an intangible outcome, not measurable in quantitative terms. It brings its fruit with time, but that fruit becomes most valuable and usually influences future projects and perspectives of ecumenical Christian dialogue.

In terms of tangible outcomes, the conference included more than 40 presentation, one book presentation, and a round table. The materials of the conference will be published in one volume. This publication will carry on the tradition of the ecumenical dialogue, which the previous volumes developed. The 13th volume of acts of the past year’s Assumption Readings Tradition and Translation  (2013) was presented at the opening and given to the participants of the conference.

The publication and distribution of the materials of Assumption Readings 2014 will help in making the outcomes of the conference more accessible to readers in Ukraine and abroad. All related materials in Ukrainian, Russian and English will be placed on the website of St. Clement’s Center “Communion and Dialogue of Cultures”, which is the partner of the European Humanities Research Center.

You can already find the picture gallery of the conference at the following address.

Videos and textual reports will be added later.

Because of the unstable situation in the country and structural changes in the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, the conference did not receive as much media coverage  as last year.

Programs, accounts and articles about the Assumption Readings-2014 (in Ukrainian and Russian) can be found at:

1) the official websites of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church,

Greeting Word of Metropolitan Onuphrius of Kyiv and All Ukraine;

2) the official website of the Moscow Patriachate of Russian Orthodox Churcheparchia.patriarchia.rubogoslov.ru;

3) the website of the Orthodox magazin “Foma v Ukraine (Thomas in Ukraine);

4) a TV-program with Rev. Bohdan Ohulchanskyi presenting the volume of articles of Assumption readings 2013 (Tradition and Translation) see here;

5) Several texts of the conference have been placed on the website of “Dukh i Litera” (Spirit and Letter) Research and Publishing Association;

6) Two feedback reports of the conference (by Prof. Dr. Anne-Marie Pelletier (Paris), Prof. Dr. Marek Kita (Krakow) can be found at “Dukh i Litera” website as well.

A few quotes from the feedback reports you may find below:

Anne-Marie Pelletier, Professor Emeritus of Literatur, of the University of Paris X, the Faculty Notre Dame and the Collège des Bernardins in Paris:

For a few days we were united by the topic koinonia-communio-communication. The conference puts its hopes for the future, for peace, for reconciliation… Indeed, communio has to be fulfilled by efforts of transforming it into words, stories, demanding debates. This work of transformation can evoke recognition stronger than remembrances affected by prejudice and sometimes painful offences... But at the same time, communion is a reality possessing simplicity and sensible depth of life… These days, to acquire such an experience on the Ukrainian land, exactly in this moment of its history, is extremely valuable and symbolic... At the time when violence and murders, sowing divisions, again strive to rule the history of Ukraine, we have just become, together and for each other, witnesses of fraternity capable of revivial in the center of divisions that put out their metastases in our histories and our ideas.

Brother Richard of Taize:

Ce qui est plus inhabituel, c'est qu'on y trouve des universitaires renommés à côté de gens sans beaucoup de diplômes, des chercheurs laïcs à côté de prêtres et de moines, ceux qui parlent avec aisance à côté de ceux qui ont de la peine à parler ou qui même écoutent seulement. Le miracle de tout cela, c'est qu'on a l'impression que chacun est nécessaire. … En tout, il règne une sorte de bienveillance: c'est comme si la règle de base était de faire d'abord confiance à chacun qui veut bien contribuer en donnant du sien. Et cette bienveillance permet une ouverture croissante. … Les analyses graves de la situation actuelle en Europe de l'Est n'ont pas empêché une profession d'espérance et la conviction que, de même que la construction de l'Union européenne s'était appuyée sur la réconciliation franco-allemande, la grande Europe se construira sur une réconciliation russe-ukrainienne à venir.

Monsignor Francesco Braschi, Director of the Slavistics Department of the Ambrosiana Academy (Accademia Ambrosiana) in Milan:

Ho avuto per due volte la fortuna e la possibilità di partecipare alla Conferenza internazionale "Uspenskie Čtenija", che da quattordici anni viene organizzata a Kiev da un gruppo di persone appassionate alla propria cultura, lingua, tradizione di fede e storia, ma altrettanto appassionate alla possibilità che le loro ricchezze vengano "fatte fruttare" nell'incontro e nel dialogo con quelle degli altri popoli presenti nel continente europeo, inteso però nella sua accezione più ampia: quella dei "due polmoni" con cui respira una terra che si estende "dall'Atlantico agli Urali".

Prof. Dr. Sergey Khoruzhy (Moscow), Academician of the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences, Professor of the Department for comparative study of religious traditions at UNESCO:

Assumption Readings, which were brilliantly organized and conducted, made best impressions on me. It was indeed the level of most solid and representative European and international theological meetings. They give witness about permanent efforts to maintain the dignity and unity of Christian mind among all trials and temptations of nowadays.

Future prospects

All the participants underlined the importance of the “Assumption Readings” for the ecumenical dialogue, in particular for creating friendly relations between the Orthodox and Catholics of Ukraine. Each meeting prepares the future steps for the dialogue between our Churches.  

The tradition of the Assumption Readings will be continued next year. The topic of the next year is “TRUTH. MEMORY. RECONCILIATION.” It is closely connected with the topics of the conference in 2012 (Tradition and Translation) and 2013 (Koinonia-Communion) –The notions of truth, memory and reconciliation, so fundamental both for Christianity and for secular culture, should be considered in their interdependence and mutual influence. The connection between the two has its roots in the Old Testament: “Righteousness and peace kiss each other” (Ps. 84:11). It reaches its climax in the New Testament: “kingdom of God is… a matter of… righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 14:17). For Christian culture reconciliation in truth and in allegiance to the tradition (of memory) has played a fundamental part starting from the epistles of St. Paul and St. Clement of Rome. The latter, while he was trying to put out the fire of enmity in the Corinthian community, expressed hope for a speedy reconstruction of the “desired peace and onemindedness.”

In the 20th century, St. Pope John Paul II called for the “purification of memory,” and this call is especially urgent nowadays. Catholic theologian Jean Vanier, the founder of the ecumenical international community “The Ark,” with all his life showed that a community “becomes the place for reconciliation and forgiveness.” In our time of strained national and political relations the words of the Metropolitan George (Khodr) of Mount Lebanon become especially relevant for Ukraine, Russia and Europe. He said that reconciliation is God’s call, that at the liturgy we pray for “peace from above”, i.e. peace from God, and that this prayer directly transforms into the prayer for the “peace of the whole world.”

We also would like to remind you that in year 2015 we celebrate a remarkable jubilee – the 400th anniversary of the Kyiv-Mohyla Academy. As we know, commissions on “Truth and Reconciliation” are active in many countries of the world. Although the university does not have a claim on the authority of those commissions, it is called to become a place for comprehending truth, memory and reconciliation and call for their interaction in the life of the society.

Aspects of the topic of 2015 include: notions of truth, memory and reconciliation in the Holy Scriptures and in early Christianity; patristic teaching on peace, reconciliation, truth, righteousness, and memory; theological and philosophical aspects of the interconnections between truth, memory, and reconciliation; social, political and psychological aspects of the interconnections between truth, memory and reconciliation; truth, memory and reconciliation in the history of the Church and in the relations among Christian communities; Christian understanding of the notions of truth, memory and reconciliation as a way towards solving contemporary social and political conflicts; University as a place for dialogue and reconciliation; “purification” of memory, truth and reconciliation: lessons of history and practical examples.

Among the partners, as in the previous years, the European Humanities Research Center will include the following institutions: the St. Clement’s Center, National University of ‘Kyiv-Mohyla Academy’, the Kyiv Theological Academy and Seminary, St Thomas Aquinas Institute of Religious Studies, the Skovoroda Institute of Philosophy of National Academy of Science of Ukraine, the Museum of St. Sophia Cathedral.

 

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