An Orthodox Theologian Who Bridges East and West

2 Books Look at Author of 1998 Colosseum Via Crucis

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ROME, SEPT. 17, 2004 ( French lay Orthodox theologian Olivier Clément, one of the standout promoters of East-West dialogue among Christians, is the object of two new books.

“Memories of Hope” (“Mémoires d’espérance”), published by Desclée de Brouwer presents a series of interviews with Jean-Claude Noyer in which Clément proposes in a hopeful manner the encounter with Christ and the spiritual experience.

Clément, who, like the John Paul II, says Europe needs the “two lungs” of East and West to breathe, is the author of more than 30 books. The Pope asked him to write the texts for meditation for the 1998 Good Friday Via Crucis held in Rome’s Colosseum.

Clément was born in France’s Languedoc region, a de-Christianized land of Cathar roots and anti-Catholic prejudices. At age 20, he began a spiritual journey that led him briefly to Protestantism, which he considered too “dry,” and too remote from the wonder of a “young pagan” before the splendor of nature and Mediterranean culture.

His fascination with the East led him to discover Russian author Vladimir Lossky. In the latter’s essay on the Eastern Church’s mystical theology, Clément discovered the mystery of the Trinity and the Fathers of the Church.

According to Jean-Claude Noyer, Clément proposes “an intelligent, profound and interiorly renewed Christianity.”

The interviewer speaks to the theologian about topics such as love, mission, the Jesus Prayer, and explains his vision of the “four witnesses of the Gospel: Patriarch Athenagoras; Mother Marie Skobtsov; Father Sophrony and John Paul II.” Patriarch Athenagoras of Constantinople, together with Paul VI, had a key role in ecumenical dialogue.

Noyer recounts his meetings with the theologian on Friday afternoons in his Paris apartment, and describes him as “a stroller between two shores, a man of dialogue and unity.”

The other book that has just came out is “Olivier Clément: His Spiritual and Theological Journey” (“Olivier Clément, son Itinéraire Spirituel et Théologique”) published by Éditions Anne Sigier.

The work, by Franck Damour, highlights how Clément’s theology is “that of Christianity of the Resurrection which opens us to the earth, to the body and to beauty.”

The book recounts Clément’s life, and his journey from atheism to a theology marked by the Transfiguration.

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