Huffington Ecumenical Institute Builds Bridges in Rome

This press release originally appeared in LMU’s Newsroom.

The founder of the Huffington Ecumenical Institute at Loyola Marymount University, Michael Huffington, and the interim director of the institute, Father Cyril Hovorun, traveled to Rome this month for a series of meetings to build on the institute’s mission. The goals of the institute, housed in the Bellarmine College of Liberal Arts in University Hall, are to promote the unity of the Orthodox and Catholic Churches through fraternal encounters and forums for reflective and frank ecumenical discussions and dialogue at local, regional, national and international levels.

Huffington and Hovorun first visited the Congregation for the Oriental Churches and were received by its secretary, Archbishop Cyril Vasil’, S.J. They discussed new ways of doing ecumenism and the issue of ecumenical sincerity and agreed that Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, being located in the hub of innovation, can be a laboratory for new ecumenical methods.

The next stop was the Pontifical Gregorian University, established in the middle of the 16th century by St. Ignatius Loyola and originally known as Collegio Romano. It is a leading Catholic theological institution, and among its alumni are 17 popes and more than 70 saints, including Robert Bellarmine, S.J. and Maximilian Kolbe, O.F.M. Huffington and Hovorun were received by Father Dariusz Kowalczyk, S.J., dean of the faculty of theology, and Father Milan Zust, S.J., the dean of the faculty of missiology, to discuss the traditions of Jesuit education and how these traditions can facilitate ecumenical movement.

The LMU guests also talked about how monastic traditions of both Christian West and East can contribute to rapprochement between the Orthodox and Catholic churches with Benedictan monk Father Michel Van Parys, who was an abbot at the monasteries in Chevetogne in Belgium and Grottaferrata in Italy. Both of those communities promote practices of Orthodox and Catholic spiritualities.

Huffington and Hovorun also attended a launch of the photo exhibition “Life Across the Occupation Line in Georgia,” organized by the Embassy of Georgia at the Holy See and attended by the members of the diplomatic corps in Rome. During the event, Huffington had conversations with Callista Gingrich, U.S. ambassador to the Holy See, Ambassador Tetyana Yizhevska of Ukraine, and the ambassador of Georgia to the Holy See, Tamara Grdzelidze, about the political and ecclesial situation in Orthodox countries.