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Orthodox Christianity and Human Rights in Europe

A Dialogue Between Theological Paradigms and Socio-Legal Pragmatics



This collective book aims at examining in what terms, and to what extent, the "reception" of the Human Rights doctrine takes place in Eastern Orthodox countries, as well as in the Orthodox diaspora. A series of questions are raised regarding the resources and theological structures that are mobilized in the overall Human Rights’ debate and controversy, the theological "interpretation" of Human Rights within the Eastern Orthodox spiritual tradition, and the similarities and/or divergences of this "interpretation", compared to the other Christian confessions. Special attention is given to the various Orthodox actors on the international arena, aside the national Orthodox churches, which participate in the Ecumenical dialogue, as well as the dialogue with the European and international institutions.

Religious freedom, as a fundamental Human right, guaranteed by the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR), constitutes a key-issue that contributes to broadening the reflections on the overall Human Rights-related problematic between East and West, by shading light on the more complex issue pertaining to the conceptualization and implementation of Human Rights in countries belonging to the Eastern Orthodox tradition.

The present volume studies the diversity that characterizes the Orthodox theological traditions and interpretations regarding Human Rights, not only in terms of an "external", or a "strategical" approach of socio-political and ecclesial nature, but also through a reflexive analysis of theological discourses.

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Conclusions. Orthodoxy and Human Rights (Jean-Paul Willaime)


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Orthodoxy and Human Rights


Translation from French by Elisabeth A. Diamantopoulou

In concluding this particularly fruitful conference on “Orthodoxy and Human Rights”, I had two alternatives: either to comment separately each presentation, bringing into light the specificities that each one brought to the general theme, or to make general comments on the papers and the debates they raised by presenting my own perspective as a sociologist of religion. I opted for the second alternative so, even though I took into consideration the various presentations, I am not directly referring to them in my conclusions.

1.  A multidisciplinary examination beyond stereotypes

The conference papers were high quality presentations that raised unique debates. Furthermore, during this conference there was no use of academic jargon. Instead, very different and opposing views were expressed in an open academic environment on the relationship between the Orthodox world and human rights. In an environment of socially controversial issues that become the subject of public controversies stigmatizing the positions of opposing sides, university institutions play an important role engaging in discussions using a well-documented and sound critical approach by deconstructing stereotypes and preconceptions, which, sometimes, can permeate the academic sphere. But this was not the case in Louvain-la-Neuve, where everyone involved, both the organisers and speakers of the conference, and the Catholic ← 355 | 356 → University of Louvain (UCL), played an academic role, for which they have to be...

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