On Saturday, January 22, 2022, the friars at the Franciscan Theological Institute in Roman, Romania, celebrated the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity with a symposium on the theme: “The Star of the Magi in the Light of Sacred Scripture.”
This religious and cultural event was organized by two confreres: Friar Eusebio BEJAN, Director of the Pax et Unitas Center for Ecumenical Research and Interreligious Dialogue, and Friar Mihai AFRENȚOAE, Director of the St. Anthony of Padua Center for Biblical Studies.
In his opening remarks, the Minister Provincial, Friar Damian Gheorghe PĂTRAȘCU highlighted the importance of the event and the significance of the biblical verse (Mt 2:2) which had been selected as the title of the theme for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.
This year marks the thirtieth year of this event. The moderator of the meeting, Friar Ștefan ACATRINEI, pointed out its historical value, saying: “It is the Institute’s obligation to carry on what has now become tradition.”
Friar Mihai AFRENȚOAE presented the first lecture, entitled “The Fulfillment of the Scriptures in the Gospel of the Infancy of Jesus.” He spoke about the historical context of the Gospel passages of infancy from a scientific and theological perspective, and highlighted the significance of Aperuit illis, an apostolic letter in the form of a motu proprio by which Pope Francis instituted the Sunday of the Word.
The Postulator General, Friar Zdzisław Józef KIJAS, captured the attention of those present with a lecture entitled: “The End of Doctrinal Dialogue?” Ecumenical dialogue today is going through a profound crisis and there are some who say that ecumenical dialogue is finished. However, this crisis does not only concern dialogue between Churches or ecclesial communities, but dialogue within the Churches themselves. Does doctrinal dialogue exist among the Churches, or not? Is it still possible to have dialogue on issues concerning the essence of Christianity? Such a dialogue seems indispensable if we want to realize the dream of unity among the Churches in the future.
Friar Silvestru BEJAN presented the final lecture, entitled: “Christians and Religions of the World.” He began with the Magi, who were not members of the Jewish religion, and gave a brief historical excursus, on the relationship of the Christian faith with other religions. He explained how other religions and the unbaptized are understood according to Christian thought. At the end, he noted: “Christians engaged in dialogue must not hide the fact that they are Christians. Christ must not become an embarrassment during dialogue or become an obstacle to dialogue. Christians must not substitute Christ for some concept that is more relatable to others. As Christians, we must make real the One to whom we give witness and allow others to recognize who we are.”
The event concluded in the chapel of the Theological Institute with a moment of solemn prayer presided over by Friar Marius VĂTĂMĂNELU.
Friar Ștefan ACATRINEI