Metropolitan Hilarion Awarded Honorary Doctorate of Divinity

On November 8, at a special academic convocation, the seminary Board of Trustees and faculty awarded His Eminence The Most Reverend Hilarion (Alfeyev), metropolitan of Volokolamsk and chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate Department for External Church Relations, an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree. Metropolitan Hilarion was on campus to present a public lecture: "Primacy and Conciliarity from an Orthodox Perspective"—a topic of critical importance to the Joint Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Orthodox and the Roman Catholic Churches, of which he is a key participant. His Eminence is also an appointed member of the seminary Board and author of the SVS Press Orthodox Christianity Series.

Upon receiving he honorary degree, Metropolitan Hilarion expressed his gratitude for his longstanding relationship with St. Vladimir's Seminary, noting the seminary's crucial role in building trust between Orthodox churches throughout the world. In his lecture, he defined church structure and organization as understood by Christians of East and West.

"There are two traditions," Metropolitan Hilarion noted; "The West is centralized, and primacy is understood as descending directly from the first Pope. No such primacy has ever existed in the Orthodox East, which is decentralized and based on the notion of communion between local autocephalous churches.

"When the Great and Holy Council of the Orthodox Church scheduled for 2016, convenes," he added, "the Ecumenical Patriarch will occupy a central seat, but only in the midst of his fellow primates, who will be arranged around him according to the diptychs of the Church.

"By contrast, in Roman Catholic councils the Pope is seated on an elevated throne and separated from his fellow hierarchs," he explained.

"For the Orthodox, synodality is higher than primacy," concluded His Eminence.

His Beatitude Metropolitan Tikhon, primate of the Orthodox Church in America (OCA), attended the lecture, as well as the primate and bishops of the Anglican Church in North America, and visiting clergy from the Pentecostal Convergence Movement. (See the article about the meeting between the Anglican delegation and Metropolitan Hilarion).

Earlier in the day, Metropolitan Hilarion met with SVOTS administrators and Metropolitan Tikhon, and joined the community for Vespers. He also traveled with a delegation to celebrate a panikhida at the grave of renowned Russian composer Sergei Rachmaninoff, in Valhalla, NY. His Eminence is a gifted composer; in 2011, more than 1,000 New Yorkers attended the English premiere of his composition, St. Matthew Passion, sponsored by St. Vladimir's Seminary and presented at the Church of St. Paul the Apostle in Manhattan.