International Congress at the Romanian Patriarchate

October 2013

Theological Congress Reception of the Work of Father Dumitru Staniloae

On 3 October 2013, the International Theological Congress on the theme “Reception of the Work of Father Dumitru Staniloae Today” began. The festive session held in “Patriarch Teoctist” Aula Magna, moderated by His Grace Varlaam Plooiesteanul, Assistant Bishop to the Patriarch, was opened by His Beatitude Daniel, Patriarch of the Romanian Orthodox Church, in the presence of the representatives of the state institutions, of the hierarchs, people of culture and of the participants from the country and abroad. Yesterday too the exhibition entitled “Work of Father Staniloae” was opened. Today, the session continues in “Conventus” hall of the Patriarchate Palace – informs “Lumina” newspaper.

The festive meeting opened by the Patriarch of Romania, who delivered the speech “Dumitru Staniloae commemorative year – gratitude, communion and cooperation”, continued with the message sent on behalf of the State Secretariat for Religious Affairs by Victor Opaschi, state secretary, who underlined the fact that the evocation of the personality of the most outstanding Romanian modern theologian represents a great service brought to the Romanian society who is in badly need of models which should not be displayed in the shop window and contemplated with melancholy, but always updated and promoted. “The role of the theologians is to emphasise his spiritual virtues. I only want to underline the fact that father Staniloae related the rationalist Occident to the contemplative Occident. Today, father Staniloae is not only the famous Romanian theologian. He is a European who offers our country full European vocation and individualises us as a nation. Father Staniloae raised the Romanian theology to the rank of science. He knew best how to set in only one discourse – both spiritual and scientific – the so deep religiosity of the Romanians. He related, in the same theological discourse, the experience of the ordinary faithful from the country to the complex theories of the German philosophy. He explained the life in Christ so as to be understood both by intellectuals and by ordinary people. For me, father Staniloae is even more topical in the 21st century than in the last century” Victor Opaschi said.

Due to its scientific rigour and intellectual probity, the work of father Dumitru Staniloae is known today in the Western academic world and not only there. The complex character of his work brought about the reception of father Dumitru Staniloae in the Romanian Academy. In this sense, academician Ionel Haiduc, president of the Romanian Academy, called father Staniloae the greatest philosopher – theologian of Romania, as well as a great patriot. “Having been a servant of science, I thought over the following words of father Staniloae: ‘Let’s talk about science and faith. Science leaves us included in the description of the laws of various existences, but it is not willing to know that these laws must come from somebody above laws. It does not explain anything, but only describes. It rather describes the laws of the material world. In the 19th century people thought that science could know the spiritual side too, but it does not’. Every scientist should think of these words of father Staniloae”, academician Ionel Haiduc underlined.

The message on behalf of the University of Bucharest was conveyed by Univ. Prof. Dr. Mircea Dumitru, rector of this institution, who underlined the complex character of our Orthodox spirituality and the contribution of the great Romanian theologian, which imposed itself through its spiritual depth, through the full investigation of the sources and the clarity of the presentation. “Father Staniloae is, through his overwhelming work and influence exerted the most important and fruitful Orthodox theologian of the 20th century (…). Having been a scholar of deep subtle theological humanistic culture, a warm brilliant soul, of great gentleness, kindness and sensitivity, as described by those who met him, father Dumitru Staniloae did not conceive theology otherwise than a genuine living meeting of the ordinary people with the Living God. The force of the theology of father Staniloae, always topical, springs from the power of love. His work can be interpreted as an answer given to the love of God. Certainly, the study, exegesis and deciphering of the work of father Dumitru Staniloae springs from the same love for understanding, knowledge and truth, that his exegetes show for the ideas of the professor and for their development. As the professor himself said, his theology would accomplish its meaning through the implementation – in the souls of those willing to study it – of the power of love willing to develop the theological ideas”, Univ. Prof. Dr. Mircea Dumitru underlined.

Scientific lectures

After the festive opening of the congress, three scientific lectures followed. Rev. Univ. Prof. Dr. Stefan Buchiu, dean of the “Patriarch Justinian” Orthodox Theological Faculty of Bucharest spoke about the reception of the work of father Dumitru Staniloae in the Romanian academic theology, showing that it “represents a certain reality of great amplitude, illustrated at national level within the university theological education through the interest of the dogmatic theology professors to use, fructify and promote with the students the matchless contribution of the thought of the best known, translated, commented and interpreted Romanian Orthodox theologian.”

Rev. Univ. Prof. Dr. Ioan Tesu, from “Dumitru Staniloae” Orthodox Theological Faculty of Iasi spoke about the reception of the work of father professor Dumitru Staniloae in the monastic life and spirituality, presenting the great Romanian theologian as historian and agiographus of the Orthodox monasticism. Rev. Ioan Tesu remembered in his lecture a series of appreciations of certain hierarchs and monks with improved life concerning the sublime model of spiritual life and theological thought of father Dumitru Staniloae, concluding: “Father Staniloae is a gift of great value that God gave to the entire Orthodoxy, in times of relativization of the moral and spiritual values. His work conveys, “with much force”, the urge to discover, appreciate, and practice the Christian ideal of life, namely salvation. The contemporary man, either monk or laic, not only theologian, will have the chance to rediscover his holy vocation to the extent to which he will succeed in genuinely estimating the high and spiritual teaching of father professor Dumitru Staniloae; he will rediscover himself in whatever he has as holiest, deepest, best and highest”.

Mrs Elena Solunca-Moise, main editor of “Academica” magazine of the Romanian Academy and speaker of this institution delivered the lecture entitled “Reception of the work of father professor Dumitru Staniloae in the lay culture”, describing him as a “perfect theologian of love in a time of hate, of communion in a time of ferocious individualism and of uninterrupted working prayer in a time in which God is more talked about than talked with”. She showed the synthesis of the legacy bequeathed by father Staniloae: “He taught us how to be contemporaries with eternity”.

Homage diploma and medal of “Father Dumitru Stanilaoe”

Session II of the International Congress was moderated in Aula Magna of the Patriarchate Palace by His Eminence Laurentiu, Metropolitan of Transylvania. His Eminence spoke about the contribution of father Dumitru Staniloae to sketching liturgical theology through his monumental work entitled “Spirituality and communion in the Orthodox Liturgy” which presents the most important comment on the Divine Liturgy in the Romanian Orthodox theology. “The theology of father Staniloae is a living theology, which has been lived in the life of our professors, in their activity, as well as in that of the students. From a liturgical point of view, a great work of father Staniloae is the book entitled “Spirituality and communion in the Orthodox Liturgy”, which helped us a lot and keeps on helping us at present to get into the mysteries of the most important religious service of our cult: the mystery of the Divine Liturgy. From a personal point of view, we focused our memories and appreciation for father Staniloae through a small sintagma: “loving kindness of the erudite servant”. We knew and shared that kindness which expressed so much appreciation for us, those who had climbed a small step on the stair of theology” His Eminence Metropolitan Laurentiu said.

The personality of father Dumitru Staniloae was evoked by Lidia Stanilaoe, daughter of the Romanian theologian, who delivered a lengthy speech full of personal original relations about the life in the family of father Staniloae. “Father Staniloae loved the mountains and we often climbed them together in my childhood. He used to stop and look around: “God, how beautiful it is!, he said; “How wonderful is the world that God gave us!” This capacity to see the wonder of creation accompanied him all his life, and characterised him in everything he did. He received from God the gift to see in depth what surrounded us and to understand that the power of God is manifested in everything we see. He was convinced that He bequeathed us a world of wonders and that we must be aware of this gift that reflects the love of the Creator for His creation, but whose significance is much deeper than we seem to be able to explain through our limited understanding”, Lidia Staniloae said.

Then, His Beatitude Patriarch Daniel awarded, as a sign of appreciation for the contribution brought to the promotion of the work and thought of Dumitru Staniloae, the Diploma and homage Medal of “Father Dumitru Staniloae” to Mrs Lidia Staniloae and to professor Mircea Dumitru, rector of the University of Bucharest. To end with the session, all those present in “Patriarch Teoctist” Aula Magna watched the documentary entitled “Father professor Dumitru Staniloae” made by Trinitas Television of the Romanian Patriarchate.

During the second half of the day, the congress was held in “Conventus” hall in the Patriarchate Palace. The third session was moderated by His Eminence Irineu, Metropolitan of Oltenia and comprised the lectures delivered by His Grace Mitrofan Kodic, Serbian Bishop of Eastern America (Comparison between the theology of father Dumitru Staniloae, theology of Saint Nicolae Velimirovici and that of pious Justin Popovici), Univ. Prof. Dr. Hermann Pitters (Reception of the work of father Staniloae in the German space); Rev. Dr. Jean Boboc (Reception of the work of father Staniloae in the North-American space) and Univ. Prof. Dr. Christos Arabatzis (Reception of the work of father Dumitru Staniloae in the Greek academic field). The fourth and last session of the day of this international congress was moderated by Univ. Lect. Dr. Cristinel Ioja, from the Orthodox Theological Faculty of the University of Arad. The scientific lectures were delivered by archimandrite prof. Marcel Pavuk (Teaching on the passions and fight against them in the work of father Dumitru Staniloae and of the Russian hermits in the 19th century: comparative analysis), Univ. Lect. Dr. Ciprian Streza (Importance of the liturgical and ascetic view of father Dumitru Staniloae concerning the call of the man to join the Father through Christ, as offering) and Univ. Lecturer Dr. Emil Bartos (Doctrine on justification through faith in the Orthodox and Reformed theology. Comparative study between the thought of father Dumitru Staniloae and Jean Calvin).

The proceedings of the Theological Congress entitled “Reception of the work of father Dumitru Staniloae Today” continues with sessions V-VIII held in “Conventus” hall of the Patriarchal Palace, ending on 5 October with the remembrance service celebrated at the grave of father Dumitru Staniloae at Cernica Monastery.