At the invitation of the Saint John of Damascus Theological Institute, the Executive Board of the Romaïan Cultural Society participated in the opening ceremony of the international scientific conference entitled “The Antiochian Orthodox Church from the Fifteenth to the Eighteenth Century: Towards an Accurate Understanding of History,” which was organized by the University of Balamand between October 16 and October 18, 2023.
The society was represented by members of the Executive Board, the president Professor Negib Geahchan, the treasurer Mr. Roland Khairallah, the chairman of the Committee of Glorification, Dr. Elie Moucadieh, and the chairwoman of the Cultural Committee, Dr. Liliane Zeidane El-Khoury.
The opening ceremony included two welcome speeches delivered by the Dean of the Theological Institute, H.E. Archimandrite Jack (Khalil) and by the University President, Professor Elias El-Warraq, followed by a major speech by His Beatitude Patriarch K. K. John X. The celebration ended with a scientific lecture given by Professor Constantine Panchenko entitled “The Unia of Florence and the Church of Antioch: A Historical Review”.
The conference continued on October 17 and 18, and included several scientific sessions on the following topics: historical and political context; relations with other Orthodox churches; relations with other peoples; intellectual activity and culture; internal affairs; Patriarch Sylvestros: his life and works; relations with Rome; and finally a round table. A number of academic professors specialized in church history and Romaïan history of that time period participated in the conference, coming from many countries and universities. The speech of His Beatitude Patriarch K. K. John X was outstanding, tackled many present problems and hinted to many issues that affect the Antiochian church in the present time. He concluded his speech by saying: “In conclusion, three hundred years have passed, my dearly beloved, since the unfortunate schism of 1724 AD, which led to a rift in our Antiochian Orthodox Church, resulting in unfortunate and sad social, economic, and political repercussions, which reflected negatively on our parishes. It is our hope that this conference will add to the foundations we have put in place in order to restore unity and harmony between our church and the Romaian Catholic church, and that it will also promote the strengthening of fraternal ties between the five patriarchates (which bear the name of Antioch), and stir the spirit of kinship among them so that our witness to the Lord of glory may be one.”