Press Release of the Pauline Symposium organised by the Ecumenical Patriarchate(18/10/2008).

Within the context of the Year dedicated to St. Paul, Apostle to the Gentiles, and as a framework for the extraordinary Synaxis of the Heads of the Orthodox Churches, who assembled in the See of the Ecumenical Patriarchate at the Phanar in Constantinople/Istanbul on 10-11 October 2008, at the invitation of the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, a Pauline Symposium was organized between 11 and 17 October 2008, as a unique pilgrimage to some of the cities of Asia Minor and Greece visited by St. Paul during his missionary journeys. The Symposium academic committee was chaired by His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios of America, while the Organizing Committee was chaired by His Eminence Metropolitan Gennadios of Sassima.

Recognized scholars from diverse Christian confessions and leading academic institutions throughout the world addressed the Hierarchal participants on variety of themes from the life and letters of the great Apostle. The opening was declared by His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. In his opening remarks, His All Holiness stated: “While St. Paul was not the author of systematic treatises, it is generally acknowledged that there is hardly an area of Christian theology or Pneumatology, of Christology or ecclesiology, of anthropology or soteriology, indeed of ethics or ecology, for which St. Paul did not sow the seeds in his ‘bold’ proclamation of the Gospel.” The Ecumenical Patriarch led the Symposium, accompanied by the Patriarch of Alexandria, the Archbishop of Cyprus, the Archbishop of Athens, the Archbishop of Albania, and the Archbishop of Prague and Slovakia, as well as representatives from every Autocephalous and Autonomous Church.

Speakers included His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios (St. Paul as Apostle, Pastor and Theologian), Bishop Tom Wright of Durham (Eschatology in St. Paul), Prof. Petros Vasileiadis (Freedom in St. Paul), Prof. Christos Voulgaris (The Cosmic Dimensions of Christ’s Redemption), Prof. Helmut Koester (The Charismata of the Spirit), Prof. Karl Donfried (The Life “in Christ”), Prof. Brian Daley (Paul in the Fathers of the Church), Prof. Ioannis Karavidopoulos (Paul as Theological Bridge between East and West), V. Rev. Dr. Jacques Khalil (The Bishop in Paul’s Pastoral Letters), and Prof. Turid Karlsen Seim (Race and Gender in Paul). Session moderators included His Eminence Metropolitan Gennadios of Sassima, Prof. Christos Oikonomou, Prof. John Fotopoulos, and Rev. Dr. John Chryssavgis (who also served as secretary of the academic committee).

The 90 participants of the Symposium enjoyed the generous hospitality of the Ecumenical Patriarchate as they traveled to the cities of Smyrna and Ephesus, Antalya and Perge, as well as Rhodes and Crete, where the Symposium received the warm welcome of the Hierarchs and faithful of the local churches. In both Lindos on Rhodes and Kaloi Limenes on Crete, the Symposium visited and venerated sites where St. Paul preached during his apostolic journeys. His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew officially closed the proceedings at the renowned Church of St. Titus the Apostle, the first Bishop of Crete appointed by St. Paul. In his closing remarks, His All Holiness cited St. John Chrysostom, remarking: “We have witnessed the dust of St. Paul’s feet, which ran through the world, yet were not tired … which went through places populated and uninhabited, which walked on so many journeys.”

At the Ecumenical Patriarchate, 18 October 2008