A detailed but accessible course, with high-level specialists. Since mid-January, the Collège des Bernardins has been offering free online viewing (1) of a training course – divided into twelve one-hour lessons – to rethink ecumenism as a “transdisciplinary science”.
“Its main originality lies in the fact that it takes ecumenism not just as a movement, but more deeply as a real metaphysics capable of thinking about reality well beyond the Christian world, and much more deeply than the sole problem of unity in diversity,” explains historian Antoine Arjakovsky.
Doctor of history, director of research at the Collège des Bernardins and founder of the Institute of Ecumenical Studies in Lviv (Ukraine), this Orthodox layman is at the origin of the project, which today constitutes a unique resource in the French-speaking world. . An intuition born of a double observation (2): “On the one hand, we talk a lot about the ecumenical crisis (…) after decades of progress where Catholics, Protestants and Orthodox have begun to talk to each other, to dialogue, to create structures together. For at least twenty years, things have not progressed”, he camped in “general introduction to ecumenical science”.
A consciousness that “speaks to the world”
Ecological crisis, rise of fundamentalisms, rise of social inequalities… A shortness of breath which must be linked, according to him, on the other hand to “the crisis of the contemporary world”, at a time when the main paradigms of modernity and postmodernity. Well beyond the debates often bearing on fairly specific theological points – and relatively unknown to the general public – “the ecumenical conscience is in fact interested in everything, it speaks to the world. (…) The ecumenical movement must go beyond denominational borders”, he still postulates.
Two other voices, from other major Christian denominations, take part in this series of rich lessons: on the Catholic side, Father Richard Escudier, theologian, former episcopal vicar of the Paris diocese for ecumenism, trainer at the Paris seminary; and, on the Protestant side, the theologian Anne-Marie Reijnen, honorary professor at the University Faculty of Protestant Theology (Brussels), teacher at the Theologicum of the Catholic Institute of Paris and at the Higher Institute of Ecumenical Studies in Paris.
At the end of a historical perspective, this training still intends to give “practical applications” of this new science on subjects and debates of our time, such as the construction of peace – reflection particularly relevant at the time of the return of the war in Europe – but also on artistic creation, ecology or even pedagogy.
If the course is sometimes arduous, the speakers nevertheless endeavor to keep a great sense of pedagogy. Without requiring any particular theological knowledge, this cycle will thus be able to reach a wide audience, particularly among those who are interested in dialogue between the Churches.
Other courses in institutes
The Center Sèvres Chair of Ecumenical Theology offers lessons each year to better understand the Christian Churches in their diversity, the progress of ecumenical dialogue and the prospects for the future.
L’IHigher Institute for Ecumenical Studies (ISEO) aims to promote ecumenical studies by deepening theological and pastoral reflection on all issues affecting the ecumenical movement.
Dombes Institute of Theology (ITD), founded in 2001, offers ecumenical training in Scripture, theology and philosophy.