Orthodox Leader Predicts Christian Springtime

Urges Knowledge of Church Fathers

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BARCELONA, Spain, OCT. 5, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Orthodox Archbishop Hilarion Alfeyev of Volokolamsk is expressing the conviction that the 21st century will see a flowering of Christianity, without divisions between the followers of Jesus.

The chairman of the Department of External Affairs of the Moscow Patriarchate made these comments today in a ceremony in which he was given an honorary doctorate by the faculty of theology of Catalonia, which is under the patronage of the Gregorian University of Rome. The ceremony took place in the Conciliar Seminary of Barcelona.

"A Christian spring is just about to arrive," he said. "The 21st century will see the divisions between Christians healed and a rebirth of the faith, gift of God, just as it was preached by the Apostles and preserved by the Fathers."

The prelate described as "erroneous" the consideration of the present time as a "post-Christian" era, and those claims that Christianity will disappear from the religious map in the third millennium and be absorbed by Islam.

"I am sure that Christians will resist together and preserve their teachings, their Church and their tradition," he said.

The archbishop expressed gratitude for the doctorate and acknowledged that it is not as much a tribute to his personal accomplishments as a recognition of the importance of Orthodox theology and as a sign of respect toward the Russian Orthodox Church.

He centered his address on the timeliness of the legacy of the Fathers in today's world, a topic he often treats in his books and public interventions.

"Knowledge of the Fathers enables the Christian not to lose his way amid the multitude of tendencies of modern philosophy" or to "let himself be drawn by complicated and strange doctrines," Archbishop Hilarion said.

Firm relationship with God

He added that "knowledge of the Fathers helps Christians to understand themselves, to build a firm relationship with God, to order their spiritual life."

He continued, "Contrary to the recipes of modern teachings such as psychoanalysis, the advice of the Fathers exhales a healthy spirit, founded as it is on the solid understanding of the human spirit, and the need to combat one's own sinful tendencies and put goodness into practice."

"The counsels of the Fathers are much more universal than the basic postulates of Freudianism, and can be applied to people who live in the most diverse cultural and temporal contexts," the archbishop said.

He added that "the works of the Fathers will never be irrelevant, given that they treat questions, the answers to which are decisive for humanity's destiny."

The investiture ceremony was presided over by the archbishop of Barcelona, Cardinal Lluís Martínez Sistach, and included the intervention of the dean of the faculty, Armand Puig.

Puig explained that the ceremony was "an act of recognition of Orthodox theology as a whole but, above all, it is a tribute to one of its most qualified representatives."

Moreover, he added, it is "a favorable moment for our faculty and the rest of the ecclesial academic institutions of the Catholic Church to reaffirm their commitment to study and appraise the Fathers of the Eastern Church" in studying theology "in the present moment and in the concrete context of 21st century Europe."

Archbishop Hilarion is the author of works on the Fathers of the Church and topics of present-day Orthodox theology, and he maintains a firm and constant commitment and presence in the ecumenical realm.