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Pro Oriente

Christian Anthropology

Conferences on Christian Anthropology with the Russian Orthodox Church

The focus of this project are questions of Christian anthropology and the Christian concept of man, which are of equal interest to both Catholics and Orthodox. By comparing the respective traditions, common answers to the challenges of our times can be found.

Historical Background

The 70-year rule of a totalitarian system that propagated militant atheism and aimed at creating a new type of person, left its people with a loss of orientation. Since the historic turning point of 1989, people in Russia have been searching for a new relationship between state, society and church.
Today the Christian churches of the East and West are facing similar challenges e.g. secularization, the environmental crisis and genetic engineering. In view of this, PRO ORIENTE readily took up the suggestion of Archpriest Andrei LORGUS of the Russian Orthodox University of St John the Theologian to hold joint scholarly conferences on questions of Christian anthropology.

Mode of Operation and Aims

Theological anthropology, i.e. the Christian teaching on the person, provides particular means for rapprochement between the separated churches. The aim was to hold talks with Russian Orthodox theologians and representatives of other disciplines, and to organise conferences on issues of theological anthropology. By doing so, not only the differences between the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Churches could be highlighted, but especially that which they have in common. The conferences also strove to foster mutual understanding about the other tradition’s way of thinking and broaden knowledge about it.

Results and Evaluation

The conferences held between 2002 and 2006 in Vienna and Moscow established that the Russian Orthodox Church still draws on an unbroken tradition dating to the early church fathers, and that western thinking has been shaped more strongly by the Reformation, the Enlightenment, and historical-critical biblical exegesis. Nevertheless, the conferences resulted in a broad consensus on the Christian notion of the person. Both sides considered the discussions fruitful and very rewarding, and were therefore eager to continue them.
This continuation took the form of a project to create a concise dictionary of theological anthropology.