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Erzbischof Alfons Nossol (Oppeln)

Pro Oriente

Patristic Conferences

The Vienna Patristic Conferences

From 2001 to 2009, the Foundation PRO ORIENTE organized five conferences of Orthodox and Catholic patristics scholars from the East and West. By returning to the shared religious roots of European culture, they attempted to find answers to current challenges such as European unification and the new materialism.
From 2010 the conferences were conducted under the direction of Prof. Theresa Hainthaler on her own Initiative. A vibrant European network of patristics scholars was created that continues to explore relevant differences as well as commonalities.


Five issues prompted the Chairman of PRO ORIENTE's Board of Trustees, Cardinal Dr. Christoph Schönborn, to initiate the conference series:

1. Europe: In the light of Christianity's influence on European history and of the martyrdom that countless Christians underwent under the totalitarian regimes of the 20th century, it is impossible to construct our European home without taking into account Christian values.

2. Scholarship: The approach to the texts should be academic and not confessional in nature. The conferences were held on an informal level, i.e. the participants acted not as representatives of their churches but as scholars with different religious and cultural traditions.

3. Ecumenism: The ecumenical nature of the conferences resulted from their subject matter, namely the study of the Latin and Greek church fathers of the first millennium.

4. Christ: The objective of the conferences was to profoundly investigate aspects of the mystery of Christ. The development of Christological formulas always came as an answer to questions of a certain era. The confession of the mystery of Christ can therefore provide answers to questions of our times.

5. PRO ORIENTE: The conferences were held by PRO ORIENTE, which has considerable experience in the ecumenical dialogue between the East and West.

Mode of Operation and Aims

The aim of the Vienna Patristic Conferences was to bring together mainly young theologians from eastern and western Europe for scholarly discussions about the sources of their common faith. Moreover, the challenges posed by the process of European integration, a new form of materialism, and by Islam were also to be examined. Both of these called for new responses based on the shared foundations of the Christian faith.

Evaluation and Results

Thanks to the Vienna Patristic Conferences the Austrian capital, which has a rich history of patristic research (The Austrian Academy of Sciences and the University of Vienna), became the venue for international meetings of experts on early Christian literature for the first time. The scholarly discussions revealed a large consensus, and the participants frequently maintained that the Spirit of God guided them to respect and value their differences.
The contributions of all five patristic conferences were published by Tyrolia Verlag, based in Innsbruck and Vienna.


Dritte Patristische Tagung


Zweite Wiener Patristische Tagung

Erste Wiener Patristische Tagung