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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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Human Rights and the Orthodox Church. The Dignity of Human Beings Created in the Imago Dei (Tamara Grdzelidze)


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Human Rights and the Orthodox Church

The Dignity of Human Beings Created in the Imago Dei


The concerns of this chapter are twofold, in relation to human rights; on the one hand, the relationship of human rights to newly emerging democracies, where the Orthodox Church is considered the national symbol and, on the other hand, the difference in the way human rights are addressed in societies with a long history of democracy; and a status questionis: can the gap between orthodox dogmatic theology and orthodox pastoral theology be reduced? It is in pastoral theology that the orthodox living tradition finds “soft spots” to be revealed in its fullness.

In March 2013 (Helsinki, Finland), the Conference of European Churches, organized the “Churches Together for Human Rights” Conference. According to the press release, participants agreed on the spiritual roots of human rights, but were concerned that churches are neither implementing human rights in their structures, nor advocating for human rights in society, and they affirmed that many churches often reject the rights of “others” in a pluralistic society.1 In this context, it is remarkable to note that a number of Orthodox theologians have written on the issue of human rights. It is also important to keep in mind a recent discourse on human rights in the political sciences, wherein religions are considered “indispensable allies in the modern struggle for human rights, and (…) religious communities must reclaim their own...

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