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Representatives of St. Philaret’s Institute attend the 230th Anniversary Conference of the Faculty of Orthodox Theology in Sibiu, Romania

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On 16-19 May, Sibiu (Romania) hosted an international theological conference entitled 230 Years of Orthodox Theological Education in Sibiu, which was organised by the St. Andrei of Şaguna Faculty of Theology with the support of the St. Andrei of Şaguna Association and the Archdiocese of Sibiu.

The conference programme included four panels which were focused on the issues of mission, the situation of higher theological education (past and present) and possible confessional models of interaction between the church and the formal educational system.

The conference was attended by several dozen people from Romania, Germany, Switzerland, Russia, Ukraine and Moldova. At the plenary meeting, a number of people greeted those assembled. We heard from: the Patriarchal Vicar Bishop Varlaam, Secretary of the Holy Synod of the Romanian Orthodox Church, Archpriest Rostislav Snigirev, Academic Secretary of the Kiev Theological Academy, Dr. Andreas Heiser, a Lutheran pastor and Rector of the School of Theology in Ewersbach (Germany), Prof. Pierre-Yves Brandt (Lausanne, Switzerland), the Prefect of Sibiu County Ovidiu-Ioan Sitterli, the acting Mayor of Sibiu Astrid Cora Fodor, and other officials.

The Faculty of Orthodox Theology also received greetings from the General Secretary of the World Council of Churches, Rev. Dr. Olav Fykse Tveit, and from the Bishop of the Evangelical Church A. C. in Romania, Rev. Reinhart Guib.

St. Philaret’s Christian-Orthodox Institute was represented by Dr. Grigory Goutner, the head of SFI’s Department of Philosophy, Humanities and Natural Sciences, who spoke in the panel on mission, with a presentation entitled “Christian and Non-Christian Discourses: Different forms for working together.”

At a personal meeting, the Rev. Prof. Nicolae Chifăr, Dean of the Faculty of Theology in Sibiu, presented Dr. Grigory Goutner with a commemorative medal on the occasion of the 230th anniversary of the Orthodox School of Theology in Sibiu, as well as with several copies of the particular issue ‘Revista Teologică’ (a quarterly journal) which contains the proceedings of the international theological conference “Common Distortions in Church Life and How to Overcome Them”. This conference was organised by SFI in conjunction with the Faculty of Theology of St. Andrei Şaguna on June 5-6, 2015. “Theological dialogue between local sister churches within the wider Orthodox Church most often occurs in the context of international events of a pan-Orthodox or ecumenical nature, the primary objective of which is to pursue lost Christian unity. The straightforward and common heritage of these different churches – in all their diversity – has unfortunately been given much less attention.” Therefore, states the forward to the publication, “the Editorial Board of ‘Revista Teologică’ welcomes the opportunity to facilitate the dialogue between Russian and Romanian Orthodox theology through the publication of these conference proceedings, which were organised in cooperation by the Faculty of Theology of Lucian Blaga University of Sibiu and St. Philaret’s Christian-Orthodox Institute in Moscow.”

The history of the Theological Faculty of Sibiu dates back to the founding of the Orthodox Theological Seminary in 1786. In the mid-19th century, the Metropolitan of Transylvania Andrei (Şaguna) made number of significant innovations to the training programme. It is thanks to his efforts that funds were collected for the purchase of the building in which the Faculty of Theology is located to this day. Metropolitan Andrei also donated three thousand books from his personal library to the seminary. In the revolution of 1848, the seminary library was burned to the ground and the Bishop made a new start by buying books with his personal funds. Thus, by 1877, the library was restored and expanded. In 1924, the seminary was reorganised into the Metropolitan Andrei Theological Academy. In the 1920s, Fr. Iosif Trifa, who founded the Romanian Orthodox “Lord’s Army” movement, was appointed as the spiritual father of the Academy, where he had studied a decade earlier. In 1948, when the Communist regime was established in Romania, the Theological Academy in Sibiu was reorganized as a theological institute. Two years after the overthrow of Ceausescu in 1991, the institute became the Faculty of Theology of Lucian Blaga University.

In 2014, St. Philaret’s Christian-Orthodox Institute in Moscow and the Lucian Blaga University of Sibiu signed a memorandum of academic, research and cultural cooperation, and SFI Provost Dmitry Gasak and Professor Alexander Kopirovsky took part in a conference dedicated to the memory of the Romanian martyr prince Constantin Brâncoveanu, which was held at Lucian Blaga University. A year prior to this, in 2013, Dr. Sebastian Moldovan, a lecturer and the Executive Secretary of the editorial office of ‘Revista Teologică’, delivered a lecture on bioethics at SFI.

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