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Philosophy Professor Stresses Need for Ecumenical Dialogue

July 15th, 2011 by 

A Holy Cross philosophy professor and priest in the Greek Orthodox Church has participated in two important events in recent weeks that advance his personal and scholarly work.

On June 29, Rev. John Panteleimon Manoussakis, Edward Bennett Williams Fellow and assistant professor of philosophy, represented His Eminence Metropolitan Methodios, the leader of the Greek Orthodox Church in Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont and parts of Connecticut, to the vespers for the feast of Saints Peter and Paul at St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church in Needham.

The representation mirrors on the local level the exchange of visits between the Holy Father and the Ecumenical Patriarch on the patronal feasts of the two churches, Rome (June 29) and Constantinople (Nov. 30).

During the vespers, Manoussakis offered remarks stressing the need to commit to the ecumenical dialogue between the two churches. A schism between the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Church developed about 1,000 years ago, in part because of disputes over papal authority and doctrinal disagreements.

“This exchange of visits goes beyond ecclesiastical formality: there are real, visible tokens that affirm in the most unambiguous way our desire and commitment to be united again in perfect communion,” he said in his remarks. “They are signs that profess in the clearest way our respect for each other’s traditions; they remind us of everything that we held in common during the first millennium and we continue to hold in common; and they encourage us to overcome the differences that so sadly separate us. Differences that should and must be overcome, Your Excellency, so that the Church’s witness may remain strong and beyond any reproach, such that our divisions might invite from those who haven’t yet embraced Peter’s confession: ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God’ (Mt. 16:16).”

Cardinal Sean O’Malley, O.F.M. Cap., Archbishop of Boston, was unable to attend but was represented by Auxiliary Bishop Walter Edyvean of Boston and Fr. David Michael, St. Joseph Parish’s reverend.

Two members of the Class of 2011, Matthew Clemente and Will Hendel, accompanied Manoussakis and spoke with Bishop Edyvean about their studies at Holy Cross and their future plans.

Although he did not attend, O’Malley commented on the event in his blog, writing “Let us pray that the Lord may grant us the gift of full communion with our Orthodox brothers and sisters” (last item).

Manoussakis has made it his life’s work to heal the schism between the Catholic and Orthodox churches. Last year, he participated in a symposium titled “The Church of Christ & Ecumenism — 10 Years After Dominus Iesus” held at the University of Scranton.

Read the full remarks Manoussakis delivered during the vespers [PDF].

In early June, Manoussakis attended a conference on Orthodoxy and Higher Education, in his capacity as a member of the steering committee. The conference, held at St. Vladimir’s theological Seminary in Yonkers, N.Y., brought together Orthodox academics who work in American institutions of higher education to discuss the possibility of and issues involved in establishing an Orthodox college in North America.

He gave two presentations based, among others things, on his teaching experience at Holy Cross, which were broadcast on Ancient Faith Radio.

Born in Athens, Greece, Manoussakis earned a doctorate in the philosophy of religion at Boston College. He is the author of “God After Metaphysics: A Theological Aesthetic” (Indiana University, 2007) and of several articles including, most recently, a treatment of the respective understanding of Old Testament theophany by St. Augustine and St. Gregory Palamas, published in Modern Theology. He has also written on papal primacy in light of recent development in Catholic-Orthodox dialogue.

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