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 – entitled “What is ecumenism”, and broken down into twelve one-hour lessons – to rethink ecumenism as “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 to La Croix. 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”, the first video of the course.
Ecological crisis, rise of fundamentalisms, rise of social inequalities… A shortness of breath that must be linked, according to him, to “the crisis of the contemporary world”, at a time when the main paradigms of modernity and postmodernity are collapsing. . Well beyond the debates often bearing on fairly precise theological points – and often relatively unknown to the general public –, “the ecumenical conscience, by universal definition, 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 of 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 retracing the emergence and affirmation of this “Christian ecumenical consciousness” until today, this training aims to give “practical applications” of this new science on subjects and debates of our time, such as the construction of peace – particularly relevant reflection at the time of the return of war in Europe –, but also on artistic creation, ecology or pedagogy. If the course can in places be a little more difficult, the speakers endeavor to keep a great sense of pedagogy. Without requiring any particular theological knowledge, this cycle will thus be able to really reach a wide audience, particularly among those who are interested in dialogue between the Churches.