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News / Roman Synod Side-Event: Great Interest in PRO ORIENTE Initiative "Listening to the East"

Roman Synod Side-Event: Great Interest in PRO ORIENTE Initiative "Listening to the East"

Presentation of the film "Listening to the East" and the book of the same name, which show the diversity of synodal experiences and traditions in the life of the Orthodox and Oriental Churches - Cardinals Schönborn and Koch pay tribute to PRO ORIENTE initiative

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Rome, 11.10.23 (poi) Under the motto "Listening to the East", an "Evening of Ecumenical Inspiration" organized by PRO ORIENTE and the Angelicum took place on Tuesday evening in the auditorium of the Augustinianum in Rome. The documentary film "Listening to the East" and the book of the same name were presented, with which the diversity of synodal traditions and experiences in the life of the Orthodox and Oriental churches were brought closer to a wide audience - and in Rome currently also to the participants of the World Synod.

PRO Oriente President Alfons M. Kloss and Fr. Hyacinthe Destivelle, Director of the Institute for Ecumenical Studies (IES) of the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (Angelicum), were able to welcome Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, Cardinal Kurt Koch and the Undersecretary of the Synod of Bishops, Sr. Nathalie Becquart, among others. Among the interested guests were also Metropolitan Job (Getcha) of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, who together with Cardinal Koch is also co-chairman of the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church.

Ecumenical "Fraternal Delegates" to the Synod who also attended the presentation included Metropolitan Iosif of the Romanian Orthodox Church, Metropolitan Mar Barnabas Geevarghese of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church (India), Rev. Jong Chun Park, president of the World Council of Methodist Churches; Rev. Hanns Lessing, general secretary of the World Communion of Reformed Churches; Elizabeth Newman, president of the Baptist World Alliance Commission on Baptist Doctrine and Unity; and Rev. Opoku Onyinah, former president of the Pentecostal Church (Ghana).

The book "Listening to the East," hot off the press, includes the contributions of the international ecumenical conferences to which PRO ORIENTE, together with the Institute for Ecumenical Studies (IES) of the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (Angelicum), invited to Rome in November 2022. More than 150 experts from the Orthodox and Oriental churches presented there synodal theologies, practical experiences and different expressions of synodal spirituality in the various churches in order to make them fruitful for the Synodal Process of the Catholic Church initiated by Pope Francis.

The conferences were also the starting point for the film. Numerous participants of the conferences have their say in detail in the film; in addition, director Robert Neumüller also visited several Orthodox and Oriental diaspora parishes in Rome and captured the Eastern liturgies and parish life on location with his camera. Neumüller designed and produced the film together with PRO ORIENTE project officer Viola Raheb, who also had the idea for the film project.

Schönborn pays tribute to PRO ORIENTE

In his greeting, Cardinal Schönborn paid tribute to the founder of PRO ORIENTE, Cardinal Franz König. It was a great merit of the then Archbishop of Vienna to have recognized already in the 1960s the importance of the Eastern Churches, to which it was necessary to listen and from which it was also necessary to learn. Both are of great importance in the current synod, Schönborn said.

As Cardinal Koch, prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Christian Unity, emphasized in his remarks, the rediscovery of synodality in the Catholic Church owes much to the dialogue between the Catholic and Orthodox Churches. In contrast, synodality in theory and practice in the Oriental churches has been little known until now. Here PRO ORIENTE and the IES of the Angelicum had closed a certain gap with the past conferences and the book now available, Koch praised the publication. Cardinal Koch praised the book, which also provides insights into the involvement of lay people, especially women and young people, in the decision-making processes of these churches.

On the part of the PRO ORIENTE Foundation, President Kloss and Project Officer Viola Raheb were joined in Rome by Secretary General Bernd Mussinghoff, who was responsible for the publication of the conference proceedings, and Finance Officer Gordian Gudenus. Also present was director Neumüller.

President Kloss expressed his gratitude for the trust between the churches built up over the past almost 60 years through the work of the PRO ORIENTE Foundation. He said it was a great joy for him to see how "the fruits of these experiences could be presented in the form of a book and a film here in Rome, on the fringes of the Synod." Kloss was convinced that this ecumenical inspiration could certainly also make a valuable contribution to the World Synod.

As project officer Raheb said following the screening, the central concern of the film was to make the theological dialogue conducted, including all the opportunities, hopes and challenges expressed therein, accessible to many people in a generally understandable language, and thus "to expand the space of the tent". In addition, she said, the film captures in beautiful and moving images "that our brothers and sisters from the Orthodox and Oriental churches have long since become an integral part of living Christianity here in the West as well," which is especially evident through the footage taken at the liturgies of these churches, all of which were made in Rome.

Director Neumüller summed up the evening by saying, "What a wonderful worthy conclusion to a great, exciting project!"

The next opportunity to see the film "Listening to the East" will be in Salzburg, where a screening will be held on October 18 at 7 p.m. in the Bischofshaus (Rupertussaal, Kapitelplatz 2). The Salzburg PRO ORIENTE section invites you to the screening. Screenings are also planned in other Austrian provinces, such as Linz and Graz.

Trailer for the film:

Information about the book can be found at: