The Last Lecture Delivered by the Guests from Poland
On Thursday, November 9, the guests from Poland held their final lectures at Tbilisi Theological Academy and Seminary. The lectures were delivered within the framework of the Erasmus + exchange program by the Professor of Warsaw Academy of Christian Theology, Bishop Endrew (Borkowski) and the Professor of Warsaw Academy of Christian Theology, Dean of the Faculty of Theology Jerzy Ostapczuk.
The topic of Bishop Endrew’s lecture was the Union as a problem of theological dialogue with the Roman Catholic Church.
Initially, the speaker explained that the word union means unification. This, indeed, is a unification of Churches, which was introduced by the Roman Catholic Church at the end of the 16th century, the goal of which was to bring the Orthodox believers under its control from administrative and legal points of view. It caused deep indignation in the Eastern Churches, being a process of violation which continued until the beginning of the 19th century. For this period, 90% of the parishioners of the Uniate Church rejoined the Orthodox Church. Today, however, two million Uniates live in the western part of Poland.
The introduction of the Union aggravated the relationship between the Polish Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church. This is also the problem of the Churches of other neighboring countries. The Uniates follow the rules of the Orthodox in terms of worship and apparel, but they have Catholic dogmatics and legally obey the Roman Catholic Church.
In 1964, at the third Pan-Orthodox Conference, held in Rhodes, the question of abolishing the Union and reuniting its parishes with the Orthodox Church or the Catholic Church (according to desire) was raised. The same issue was discussed at the meeting held in Austria and Germany in 1990, which meant dialogue on theological issues.
At these meetings, the Union was finally rejected and was called a medieval method of unification. It has been officially declared that the Unitarian Church had brought more division between the Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church than unity. The Union was also condemned by the representatives of the Roman Catholic Church, who signed an agreement declaring that the Vatican was directly responsible for the problem of the Union.
Finally, thas agreement was not acceptable to the Pope and he attempted to neutralize it. Publicizing of the agreement throughout the official Vatican publications was banned. This turned out to be a serious obstacle to sincere dialogue, and the Union remained a problem. However, it can be considered a great contribution of the aforementioned meetings that the representatives of the Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church agreed on the principle issue: the Union is not a model of the unity of the Church.
Subsequently, the Polish Orthodox Church determined to terminate the dialogue with the Vatican on the problem of the Union, although it still supports the issue of its abolition.
At the end of the lecture, the speaker answered the students’ questions.
The topic of Jerzy Ostapchuk’s lecture was the liturgical Gospels. He gave a survey of texts incorporated in the Cyrillic and Greek liturgical printed Gospels, more precisely - the short lives of the Evangelists, which in Georgian are called Praise. Inclusion of the Praises of the Evangelists in printed liturgical Gospels is found from the mid-17th century. The speaker was interested in the identity of the authors of those comments. One of the authors was a certain Sophron; he investigated the question of Sophron’s identity and established that he was a Greek disciple of the blessed Jerome, who translated these short lives of the Evangelists from Latin into Greek.
The lecture, according to tradition, concluded his speech with a question-and-answer session.