Toward a Multicultural Symphonia: Orthodox Solidarity in an Age of Diversity

Public Orthodoxy

by Chris Durante

With all of the controversies concerning non-attendance at the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church that took place in Crete this past June, I would like to propose that a re-conceptualization of the Byzantine religio-political ideal of symphonia might be able to speak to the issue of the Orthodox world’s internal cultural diversity and the tensions that arise amongst its autocephalous ecclesial communities. As an ethical ideal grounded in the pursuit of social harmony and concordance amongst distinct voices, symphonia can be re-conceptualized as implying a more robust and polyphonic understanding of its purview, whereby symphonia may serve as the foundation of an Orthodox Christian multiculturalism.

In Byzantium, symphonia was proposed as an ideal model of Church-State relations between the Patriarchate of Constantinople and the Emperor. Although it was rarely enacted in the actual political realities of the Byzantine Empire, symphonia was a response to…

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