7th Volume of Orthodox Encyclopedia Unveiled

Catholic Scholars Contributing to Monumental Work

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ROME, JUNE 7, 2004 (Zenit.org).- A new, seventh volume of the Orthodox Encyclopedia — to which Catholic scholars contributed — was presented in the Dionysia International Center for Arts and Cultures.

The volume dedicates ample space to the Vatican and the Catholic Church. The writing of this section was entrusted to Cardinal Jorge Mejía, retired archivist and librarian of the Holy See.

Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity; Cardinal Thomas Spidlik, of the Pontifical Institute of Oriental Studies; and Archbishop Verezskz Evgheny, rector of the Ecclesial Academy of Moscow, attended the meeting last Tuesday.

The work, «with which we endeavor to help Christians rediscover the Orthodox Churches,» began in 2000 and is being carried out by the «Orthodox Encyclopedia» Research Center of the Russian Orthodox Church, Vatican Radio quoted Archbishop Evgheny as saying.

The center was founded under the patronage of the Patriarchate of Moscow and Russian President Vladimir Putin, who gave John Paul II the first six volumes of this monumental work last November.

«This encyclopedia can be considered one of the most important and fortunate steps of the Russian Orthodox Church in carrying out its duty of a new evangelization in Europe,» Cardinal Kasper said.

The cardinal sees in this initiative the reciprocal commitment of the Catholic and Orthodox traditions «to present themselves to one another to rediscover the true face of the identity proper to each, an identity that is complementary and that has depicted the Christian face of Europe.»

However, it is not enough for the Continent to breathe with two lungs, East and West, Cardinal Spidlik said during the meeting. «Europe must have only one heart,» he stressed.

In this perspective, said Serghey Kravetz, president of the Orthodox Encyclopedia, it is necessary to nourish, both in the East as well as in the West, the perception of the common roots of Europe.

Thus the encyclopedia includes numerous voices dedicated to the Christian saints of the first centuries, common to the Catholic and Orthodox traditions.

The work took shape in the early 20th century at the initiative of some academic and theological institutions. Works for the edition of the Orthodox Theological Encyclopedia began and included many voices for the A-K section, before being interrupted by the outbreak of the 1917 Revolution.

The work was taken up again in the 1970s. The publishing department of the Moscow Patriarchate will now make it possible to complete this undertaking.

The next 23 volumes of the encyclopedia, enriched with colored illustrations, will be published in the course of the next 12 years. The plan is to publish 50,000 copies of each volume.

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