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Erzbischof Alfons Nossol (Oppeln)

Pro Oriente

Patristic Conferences

The Vienna Patristic Conferences

In 2001, at a time when the International Orthodox-Catholic theological dialogue was suspended, the Vienna Patristic Conferences started on initiative of Cardinal Schoenborn and Ysabel de Andia. From 2001 to 2009, PRO ORIENTE organized five conferences of Orthodox and Catholic patristics scholars from East and West (2001-2006 under the direction of Prof. Ysabel de Andia and Prof. Peter Leander Hofrichter, from 2006 under the direction of Prof. Theresia Hainthaler), in Vienna, Luxembourg, Sibiu, and Thessaloniki.
From 2010 the conferences of the group were continued under the direction of Prof. Theresia Hainthaler and took place in Esztergom, Varna, Warsaw, L’viv and Vienna.

These colloquies are characterised by the following features: European, academic, Orthodox and Catholic. With the subtitle “Forscher aus dem Osten und Westen Europas an den Quellen des gemeinsamen Glaubens” (Scholars from Europe East and West at the sources of the common faith), the conferences are published in the series “Wiener Patristische Studien" Patr. Tagungen - Publikationen

The colloquies so far have created a European network of proven patristic scholars, to which new young colleagues have been able to join time and again. The early Church is the unifying foundation for Orthodox and Catholic scholars. In times of increasingly difficult relations at the official level, also due to some tensions in Eastern Europe, this cooperation is of particular importance.


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.




So far, ten Patristic Colloquies have been held in 2001 (Vienna), 2003 (Vienna), 2005 (Luxembourg), 2007 (Brancoveanu, Romania), 2009 (Thessaloniki, Greece), 2012 (Esztergom, Hungary), 2015 (Varna, Bulgaria), 2017 (Warsaw, Poland), 2019 (L'viv, Ukraine) and 2021 (Vienna).
First, the group dealt with topics of Trinitarian theology: Christ in the Fathers, the Holy Spirit in the Church, God the Father and the Creator, then the characteristics of the Church (notae ecclesiae): Unity and Catholicity of the Church, Holiness and Apostolicity of the Church. The group then turned to Soteriology in East and West ("For Us and for Our Salvation"), followed by "Sophia. The Wisdom of God" and "Pronoia. The Providence of God". A series on anthropology began with the theme "Imago Dei", which was continued with "Inherited sin?”.
Patristic Colloquies
- „Christus bei den lateinischen und griechischen Kirchenvätern im ersten Jahrtausend in Europa", PRO ORIENTE-Tagung von Patrologen aus Ost und West, Wien, 7.-10. Juni 2001
- "Der Heilige Geist im Leben der Kirche. Charisma und Institution“, PRO ORIENTE-Tagung von Patrologen aus Ost und West, Wien, 12.-15. Juni 2003
- „Le Mystère du Dieu, Père et Créateur“ – „Das Geheimnis Gottes: Vater und Schöpfer“. PRO ORIENTE-Tagung, Luxembourg, 23.-26. Juni 2005
- « L’unité et la catholicité de l’église » - Einheit und Katholizität der Kirche. PRO ORIENTE-Tagung in Sibiu, Rumänien, 27.-30. Juni 2007
- „The Holiness and Apostolicity of the Church” - „Heiligkeit und Apostolizität der Kirche“. PRO ORIENTE-Tagung in Thessaloniki, Greece, 22.-26. September 2009
- “For us and for our Salvation”. Soteriology in East and West – « Pour nous et pour notre salut ». Soteriologie vue de l’Orient et de l’Occident. Patristic Colloquy – Colloque Patristique, Esztergom, Hungary, October 3-5, 2012
- “Sophia. The Wisdom of God”. Patristic Colloquy, Varna, Bulgaria, 27 September - 3 October 2015
- “Pronoia. The Providence of God in East and West”. Patristic Colloquy – Colloque Patristique, Warsaw, Poland, 31 August - 3 September 2017
- „Imago Dei“. Patristic Colloquy – Colloque Patristique, L’viv, Ukraine, 12 – 14 September 2019
- „Inherited sin?“, 10th Patristic Colloquy, Vienna, 15 -18 September 2021