A three-day conference that has gathered together Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic and Protestant theologians and historians from throughout the world to explore the theology of St. Augustine of Hippo, one of the of the most important figures in the development of Western Christianity, kicked off at Fordham University on Thursday, June 14.
Although regarded as a saint in the Orthodox Church, St. Augustine has remained a controversial figure for a number of reasons, including his teachings about original sin and predestination. Roman Catholicism, on the other hand, considers the fourth-century theologian to be a “church father.” The conference, “Orthodox Readings of Augustine,” marks the inaugural international conference of Fordham’s Orthodoxy in America Lecture Series.
“Augustine is typically identified as the source of all things that Eastern theologians dislike about Catholic theology,” said George Demacopoulos, Ph.D., assistant professor of historical theology and conference co-organizer with Aristotle Papanikolaou, Ph.D., associate professor of theology. “We’ve brought the top-tier international scholars together, those most qualified to comment on the works of St. Augustine, to explore the extent to which his works should be viewed as a bridge between East and West, rather than a wedge.”
In conjunction with the conference, Fordham confered an honorary doctorate of human letters, honoris causa, on His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios, the primate of the Greek Orthodox Church in America. The conferring of the degree came on the occasion of the archbishop’s 40th anniversary of his elevation to the episcopacy.
The conference keynote address in the form of the 2007 Orthodoxy in America Lecture was delivered on Thursday night by Andrew Louth, Ph.D., professor of patristic and Byzantine studies at Durham University in England. A series of symposiums on St. Augustine’s writings and theology also took place on June 15 and 16.