The International Symposium „Merciful like the Father”

The theme of God’s mercifulness – „Merciful like the Father” – was thoroughly studied at an academic level and within an ecumenical context, at Cluj-Napoca, during an International Symposium which was held on the 14thand 15thof October, 2016 in Aula Magna of the “Babeș-Bolyai” University (UBB), in the presence of illustrious professors invited from Rome, Italy and from Romania, of numerous university professors, priests, clerics, consecrated persons, students and numerous lay participants.

The Symposium works were opened by academician prof. Ioan-Aurel Pop, Ph.D., chancellor of the “Babes-Bolyai”University. His Excellency addressed a warm salute to the distinguished guests and to the entire audience, presenting the “Babeș-Bolyai” University in a few words and mentioning the four faculties of theology which function in this university, “a unique case in Europe as number of faculties of theology”.

A word of greeting also addressed His Exc. Florentin Crihălmeanu, the Greek-Catholic Bishop of Cluj-Gherla, who mentioned first the special context of the Year of Mercifulness of the Catholic Church, during which this symposium was held having as its them exactly the divine mercifulness, a theme “not just actual and necessary, but which offers us vast approach possibilities”, achieving at the same time a fist thorough study of this subject. A salute accompanied by a blessing sent by His Eminence dr. Andrei Andreicuț, the Metropolitan Bishop of Cluj, Maramureș and Sălaj, during the symposium opening, was delivered by his representative Father prof. Valentin Vesa, Ph.D, who also introduced a reflection on mercifulness.

The Program continued with paper sessions consisting in lectures and debates on theological-patristic themes chosen by the lecturers.

Following the organizers’ request, the second day, after the last session, prof. Alin Tat, Ph.D., from the Faculty of Greek-Catholic Theology spoke a few words about each topic: „first, father prof. Elmar Salmann OSB, Ph.D. (St. Anselm Pontifical Athenaeum, Vatican), in five symbolic parts translated to us the theme of mercifulness, articulating it with different conceptual aspects but all in a whole version, a very appreciated intervention.

The following, Ms. prof. Tereza Brândușa Palade, Ph.D. (National School of Political and Administrative Studies, Bucharest) who made a connection between ideology and the theme of mercifulness, respectively, mercifulness as a solution to de-politicization and mercifulness also related to an integral vision.”

Friday afternoon, two conferences followed: father prof. Guido Innocenzo Gargano, Ph.D., OSB Cam. (Oriental Pontifical Institute, Vatican), who, on a spiritual note, evoked some personal experiences related to the theme of mercifulness, of happiness, “be merciful”, remembering the relation with the orthodox monks of Mount Athos, again, a spiritual moment.

What followed was the conference of father prof. Cristian Barta, Ph.D., Dean of the Faculty of Greek-Catholic Theology, who gave the theme a local touch because he spoke about the martyrs and confessors of the Greek-Catholic Church of the time of communism.

Saturday included two conferences: father prof. Michel van Parys, Ph.D., OSB (Chevetogne Monastery, Belgium), who looked over the patristic interpretations of the evangelical parable of the “10 virgins” so that it was not just an erudite presentation of the patristic interpretation but, by the presentation tone, it was also a personal confession.

At the end we listened to prof. Emmanuel Tourpe, Ph.D. (Institute of Theological Studies, Brussels, Belgium), philosopher, who delighted the audience by saying that: «philosophy starts with wondering and ends still with wondering», just like theology and Christian life.




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