Lectures Delivered by the Guestes from Poland
Today, November 6, 2023, within the framework of Erasmus+ exchange program, Tbilisi Theological Academy and Seminary has been visited by the member of the Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church of Poland, Professor of the Warsaw Academy of Christian Theology, Professor of the Warsaw Academy of Christian Theology, Bishop Endrew (Borkowski) and Professor of Warsaw Academy of Christian Theology, Dean of the Faculty of Theology - Jerzy Ostapchuk.
At the lecture, the Professor of Warsaw Academy of Christian Theology, Bishop Endrew (Borkowski)  spoke at length about the history of the Orthodox Church of Poland which developed against the background of intense political and religious conflicts in which the world was plunged in the 16th century. He noted that in the 16th century, a great controversy arose within the Catholic Church of Poland between the Catholics and the representatives of the newly formed Protestant direction. As a counterweight to them, the Orthodox Church of Poland formed brotherhoods to strengthen the Orthodox faith. To extend help to them, Patriarch Jeremias of Constantinople (the 16th century) sent Metropolitan Arseny to Poland, who, according to Byzantine educational tradition, founded Orthodox schools in Poland and compiled a text-book of Slavic-Greek grammar. The labor of Metropolitan Arseny and achievements in his missionary work created a solid foundation for the strength and unity of the Orthodox Church of Poland. For this great contribution, the Church of Poland canonized Metropolitan Arseny as a saint. At the close of the 16th century, the Orthodox Church of Poland faced a grave threat - a union (an agreement on unification) was concluded with the Catholic Church. The political situation in which the State of Poland found itself at that time forced it to participate in this union. The speaker reviewed broadly the historical backdrop, he spoke about the difficulties, persecution and challenges faced by the Orthodox Church of Poland. In order to protect and strengthen Orthodoxy, the Patriarch of Constantinople designated Archdeacon Nicephorus as Exarch to the Polish Church. The latter was a highly educated person with a deep knowledge of theology; at the same time, he was an excellent diplomat. Bishop Endrew spoke extensively about the life, activities and martyrdom of Exarch Nicephorus. He noted that the ministry of Saint Exarch Nicephorus paved the way for a new era of Orthodoxy in Poland. Because of his merits and martyrdom, the Church of Greece and the Church of Poland canonized him as a saint.
The topic of the lecture delivered by the other speaker today, Jerzy Ostapczuk, was theological education in Poland. He spoke about the two most important dates in the history of Poland: the era of the restoration of independence (in 1918) and acquisition of autocephaly of the Orthodox Church (in 1924), and the state of theological education in the subsequent period. As the Polish guest stated, in 1918-1925 solely the seminary granted access to the study of theological issues. In 1922, a temporary agreement was made between the Orthodox Church and the state. Of course, that agreement was related to the issues of education. Teaching was to be conducted in the Polish language and the program was approved by the state as well. However, from 1925, Orthodox theology was taught at the University of Warsaw. The Faculty of Orthodox Theology cooperated with its counterparts in the universities of Bucharest, Sofia, Belgrade, and Paris. During the fifteen years of the faculty’s existence, world-famous scientists taught at the university; First of all, Archimandrite Grigol Peradze should be mentioned here, who received his theological education in Poland, then in Bern and Berlin. In 1951, a theological lyceum was founded, which later was transformed into a seminary still functioning today. In 1954, the Academy of Christian Theology (Catholic and Lutheran) was founded in Warsaw, to which two years later the Faculty of Orthodox Theology was added. Since then, the Orthodox Church in Poland has had the opportunity to provide its clergy with academic education in their homeland. At present, the faculty admits students to the Bachelor’s, Master’s and doctoral levels. The lectures of guests from Poland were attended by students and professors of Tbilisi Theological Academy and Seminary, and both of them were concluded with conversations of question-and-answer format. 
The lectures within the framework of the exchange program will continue for three more days.