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The Third Dionysian Colloquium

Jan 2013

David Harte represented the Centre for Law and Religion at the third Dionysian Colloquium, at the University of Catanzaro in the southern Italian region of Calabria, took place from 8 - 10 November.

Following the last two years' subjects, of Ecclesiastical provinces and episcopacy, respectively, the third colloquium turned to ecumenical councils. This was particularly topical, as the colloquium coincided with the fiftieth anniversary of the Second Vatican Council.

The Dionysian colloquia bring together canon law scholars from the Roman Catholic Church and a range of Orthodox churches, including Russia, Bulgaria, Rumania and Greece; also the Coptic church in Egypt. Areas of particular interest raised by the latest subject included, the balance of authority between Councils and the Papacy within the Roman Catholic Church and the problem of initiating a Council for Orthodox churches where certain patriarchates are protective of their priority. Interest was expressed in the Anglican experience of episcopal leadership linked with synodical governance. David Harte's paper outlined the internal conciliar structure of the Church of England, with particular reference to the General Synod, and sought to identify juridical instruments. The paper attrmpted to demonstrate the ecumenical engagement of the church of England and also the global conciliar dimension of the Anglican Communion. Particular attention was drawn to the Lambeth Conference and its quasi conciliar nature, despite the care which is always taken to stress that it is not a Council in the technical sense.

Remarkably clement weather for November provided a welcome background to the sessions which were held at three different venues; Stilo, Catanzaro and Regio Calabria, allowing for visits to a number of historic churches and a drive through the Aspromonte National Park, with it's wild scenery sheltering secluded monasteries and the caves of early hermits. It was noteworthy that those attending the Colloquium included several able young post postdoctoral students At the main sessions the presence of a number of undergraduates provided a reminder of the continuing place of canon law in the curriculum of law schools in continental Europe.