Los Angeles – Archbishop Demetrios of America was awarded an honorary doctorate in humane letters by Loyola Marymount University during a solemn conferral ceremony held in the universityʼs Sacred Heart Chapel, yesterday afternoon.
According to an LMU statement, the degree was awarded to the Archbishop in recognition of his role in the growing rapprochement between the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Churches, recognizing him as an international humanitarian leader who has reached out to Christian, Jewish and Muslim leaders.
“We applaud the work His Eminence has done to contribute to the interfaith dialogue among all religions and it is our honor to bestow this degree on him,” said LMU President Rev. Robert B. Lawton, S.J. “LMU prides itself on educating our students to appreciate and learn from traditions other than their own.”
“I feel highly honored for receiving today this honorary doctoral degree from the renowned Loyola Marymount University. This occasion was a great opportunity for me to offer to a select audience of the University a lecture about Saint Paul, to whom both the Orthodox Church and the Roman-Catholic Church have dedicated 2008 as the Year of St. Paul;” said Archbishop Demetrios. He particularly noted that, “both the conferral of the degree and the lecture on Saint Paul are related to the ongoing effort to promote substantive ecumenical relations among the Churches. These relations, especially today, in view of the conditions in the world and the urgent need for peace, reconciliation and dialogue among religions and cultures, take additional importance. Therefore, I warmly congratulate Loyola Marymount University for its contribution to the cultivation of the spirit of reconciliation and dialogue as part of its various academic activities, like the present one.” At another occasion, Archbishop Demetrios said the honor bestowed upon him really belongs to all the faithful of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America and the Church in general as represented in the person of the Archbishop.
Many university officials, faculty members and students as well as many members of the orthodox clergy and laity of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of San Francisco attended the conferral ceremony, headed by Metropolitan Gerasimos who offered the invocation. The other Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox Churches of the greater Los Angeles area were also very well represented by numerous members of their clergy.
Archbishop Demetrios offered an in depth portrait of St. Paul in his address entitled “St. John Chrysostomʼs Paul” which was received with great interest and attention. Fr. Alexei Smith the Director of the Office of Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs of the Roman-Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles conveyed a written a message of His Eminence Roger Cardinal Mahony, the Archbishop of Los Angeles who was traveling and could not attend. Fr. John Bakas, dean of St. Sophia Cathedral and Lecturer at the University offered a greeting on behalf of the LMU faculty. The Combined Southern California Greek Orthodox Choirs, under the direction of Constance Callinicos, sang the Great Doxology and other hymns.
Loyola Marymount University places special emphasis on theological scholarship, ethics and spirituality and a commitment to fostering greater ecumenical dialogue.
As part of this commitment, the university along with philanthropist, film producer and political activist Michael Huffington launched the Huffington Ecumenical Institute in 2007. This unique program places the discussion of Orthodox and Catholic unity at the forefront of the academic and religious communities. With the additional resources provided by Michael Huffington and the Archangel Michael Foundation, Loyola Marymount University will be able to provide needed programs and opportunities for dialogue that will help close the gap between these two great religious communities.
Located between the Pacific Ocean and downtown Los Angeles, Loyola Marymount University is a comprehensive university offering a variety of undergraduate and graduate degrees. Founded in 1911, LMU is the largest Catholic institution of higher education on the West Coast with nearly 5,500 undergraduate students and more than 3,000 graduate and law students. Students can choose from more than 80 majors and programs in four colleges, two schools and Loyola Law School. For more LMU news and events, please visit www.lmu.edu/news.