Thursday, 11 September 2014

Metropolitan Kallistos Ware
celebrates his 80th birthday

Metropolitan Kallistos Ware speaking at the IOCS conference in Cambridge this week (Photograph: IOCS)

Patrick Comerford

The summer schools and conferences organised by the Institute for Orthodox Christian Studies in Cambridge would not be the same without the humorous and gently-delivered yet scholarly and authoritative papers presented by Metropolitan Kallistos Ware.

He is the President of IOCS, having served as chair of the board, and has been a lecturer at the summer schools and conferences I have been attending in Cambridge since 2008. This week he spoke at the international conference in Sidney Sussex College on “Florovsky, Lossky and ‘Neo-Patristic Synthesis’.”

Later on Tuesday afternoon I had a valuable opportunity to catch up with him as he waited at the Porter’s Lodge for a taxi to the train that was bringing him back to Oxford. I first recall having him as a lecturer when I was a post-graduate student at the Irish School of Ecumenics in 1982-1984.

Metropolitan Kallistos is a bishop of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople and is one of the best-known Eastern Orthodox theologians and writers today. He has been the Bishopric of Diokleia since 1982, and he was made a metropolitan bishop by the Patriarch in 2007.

Participants at the conference in Cambridge this week were delighted to hear that Metropolitan Kallistos celebrates his eightieth birthday today [11 September 2014].

He was born Timothy Ware in Bath on 11 September 1934, and was raised in an Anglican family. Having won a King’s Scholarship, he went to Westminster School. From there he went to Magdalen College, Oxford, where he took a double first in classics as well as reading theology.

On 14 April 1958, at the age of 24, he joined the Orthodox Church, and later he travelled throughout Greece, where he spent much time at the Monastery of Saint John the Theologian in Patmos. He also visited other major centres of Orthodoxy, including Mount Athos and Jerusalem, and spent six months in Canada at a Russian Orthodox monastery.

In 1963, while he was still a lay member of the Orthodox Church, he published the first edition of his book The Orthodox Church under his original name, Timothy Ware. This has since become the standard English-language textbook and introduction to Orthodoxy, and he has gone on to wrote and contribute to many more books and journals.

In 1966, he was ordained priest within the Ecumenical Patriarchate and was tonsured as a monk, receiving the name Kállistos. That same year, he was appointed the Spalding Lecturer in Eastern Orthodox studies at the University of Oxford.

He continued to hold that post for 35 years until his retirement. In 1970, he was also appointed to a Fellowship at Pembroke College, Oxford.

In 1982, he was consecrated a bishop with the title Bishop of Diokleia, and was appointed an assistant bishop in the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s Archdiocese of Thyateira and Great Britain.

Although was now a bishop, he remained at Oxford where he continued to lecture in the university as well as serving as the parish priest of the Greek Orthodox community.

He retired in 2001, but he has continued to publish and to lecture on Orthodox theology.

In 2007, the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate elevated the Diocese of Diokleia to the status of a metropolitan diocese. He became a titular metropolitan although he has never had pastoral care of a diocese and he is nominally an assistant bishop in the Archdiocese of Thyateira and Great Britain.

He is President of the IOCS in Cambridge, and a former chair of the board of directors. He also chairs the Friends of Orthodoxy on Iona and the Friends of Mount Athos and serves on the advisory board of the Orthodox Peace Fellowship.

The Orthodox Church, first published in 1963, has run to several editions and has been revised many times. In 1979, he produced a companion volume, The Orthodox Way.

However, his most substantial publications have emerged from his translation work. With GEH Palmer and Philip Sherrard he has undertaken to translate the Philokalia. Four volumes of five published to date, but the fifth volume has yet to appear.

Patrick Comerford and Metropolitan Kallistos Ware at the summer school in Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, a few years ago

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