Dear All, received from a member.
The suggestion for an international conference on the spirituality and the
cultural legacy of Metropolitan Antony was first raised and explored in
Britain at least two years ago, and I felt extremely honoured to be
invited (by the Diocese of Sourozh) to host such a conference.
A venue is available at the University of Leeds, and is reserved for us
(for 19-22 July, 2007), and we have the ready co-operation of Professor
Wil van den Bercken, with whom I have organised two previous international
conferences prominently featuring Orthodox Christianity which have been
deemed very successful. Especially since the death of Metropolitan Antony
in August 2003 there has been a genuine desire among people to commemorate
and evaluate his work, and it was the purpose of our conference to provide
a good setting for balanced reflection on, and analysis of, that work,
which, as we all know, spanned whole decades.
What has changed is the now fast-moving and critical situation, especially
of recent days, which is likely to make it necessary to
re-conceive the framework for our proposed conference and, especially, the
headings for whatever discussion takes place there. It was most
unfortunate that I took the step yesterday of sending out to you, ahead of
our main mailing, our initial 'call for papers'. Those who are apprised of
the unfolding situation in the Diocese of Sourozh will be, at the very
least, perplexed and taken aback that we have invited you to offer paper
proposals on topics which, in the present atmosphere, are only likely to
inflame already high feelings. This was not at all intended, and I
apologise immediately and profusely for any misunderstandings at all which
may arise on account of what has proved to be the premature circulation of
this 'call for papers'.
I am certain that Professor van den Bercken would join me in expressing
our deep and sincere concern for the immediate and the long-term welfare
of Orthodox communities in Britain and beyond, which deep concern each of
us has amply demonstrated by our decades-long study of, and publications
relating to, Orthodox Christianity, its history and traditions from a
perspective outside Orthodoxy itself.
Important decisions with regard to the Diocese of Sourozh have to be taken
by Church leaders, decisions which imply or bear potentially strong
political connotations as well as theological and social ones. The core
idea for our proposed conference was raised before the recent sharpening
of attitudes, and we proceeded in good faith. It is not at all our
intention to inflame the current conflict. We will wait, monitor events
pertaining to the Diocese of Sourozh and take advice on the timing and
organisation of our conference, which, given time, could yet serve as a
forum for constructive reflection.
Dr Jonathan Sutton