Thursday August 21, 2008 was a day of great rejoicing for Adam De Ville, a doctoral student of the Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky Institute of Eastern Christian Studies and, indeed, for all of us at the Institute. On this day Adam successfully defended his doctoral dissertation entitled, “Orthodoxy and the Roman Papacy: Responding to Ut Unum Sint with a Recovery of the Patriarchal Model for the Exercise of Roman Primacy.”
Ut Unum Sint (That All May Be One) was promulgated by Pope John Paul II on May 25, 1995. As he pleaded for Christianity unity, the Pope was aware that papal primacy (the first place that he assumes among all the bishops of the world), if not properly understood and practiced, could be a stumbling block to Christian unity. In paragraph 88 he states openly that the “ministry of the Bishop of Rome … constitutes a difficulty for most other Christians, whose memory is marked by certain painful recollections.” In asking forgiveness for past hurts, Pope John Paul II nonetheless accepted his “particular responsibility … in acknowledging the ecumenical aspirations of the majority of the Christian Communities” and in responding to their request that he “… find a way of exercising the primacy which, while in no way renouncing what is essential to its mission, is nonetheless open to a new situation” (par. 95).
The Pope recognized such a review of papal primacy to be “an immense task, which we cannot refuse and which I cannot carry out by myself.” Further on in paragraph 96 he offers the courageous invitation: “Could not the real but imperfect communion existing between us persuade Church leaders and their theologians to engage with me in a patient and fraternal dialogue on this subject, a dialogue in which, leaving useless controversies behind, we could listen to one another, keeping before us only the will of Christ for his Church and allowing ourselves to be deeply moved by his plea ‘that they may all be one … so that the world may believe that you have sent me’ (John 17:21)?”
Adam was well prepared to undertake a response to Pope John Paul II’s encyclical. He received a BA in Psychology from the University of Ottawa in 1994 and earned his MA in Theology from Saint Paul University with a concentration in theological ethics in 1999. He has published widely in Canada, the United States, and Europe in such journals as Ecumenical Trends, The Jurist, Eglise et Theologie, The Journal of Scholarly Publishing, The Canadian Journal of Orthodox Christianity, The Anglican Theological Review, Commonweal, and First Things. In addition, he has been associate editor of Logos: A Journal of Eastern Christian Studies since 2004. In the summer of 2007 he and his family moved to Indiana to take a position as assistant professor of theology at the University of St. Francis in Fort Wayne. Adam is also a Subdeacon of the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Toronto.
The director of his doctoral work, the Rt. Rev. Professor Andriy Chirovsky declares, “Adam De Ville is an incredibly talented individual with a brilliant mind and a great gift for fluid expression in the English language. Several times I heard comments that his dissertation reads like a novel.” Indeed, Adam was able to meet the questions and comments of his jury with precision, wit and perceptiveness. It is no wonder that they not only gave him a superior and enthusiastic passing grade, but also unanimously recommended him for a prize for the brilliance of his work.
All of us at the Institute are justifiably proud of our newly-promoted Dr. Adam De Ville. As Father Chirovsky said at his defence, “Adam is not of Ukrainian background, but he has come to deeply love the Ukrainian Greco-Catholic Church which he joined several years ago. All of this flows from his deep love for the Universal Church, of course, which is quite apparent in his dissertation, his overall research, his teaching and his life in general.” Adam joins our two other doctoral graduates, the Rev. Dr. Cyprian (Robert Alan) Hutcheon (2003) and Dr. Michael Petrowycz (2005), as worthy ambassadors of our Institute.
While we congratulate Adam for a job well done, we continue to pray for him, his wife Anne Marie and his children, Ephrem and Aidan. May he continue to serve the Church and the theological community for many happy and blessed years. Mnohaya i Blahaya Lita!