A special emphasis of the Institute is its cooperation with the University of Strasbourg. This especially concerns students whose doctoral work focuses on ecumenical themes and are happy to take advantage of the extensive theological competence and good library of the Institute. Two doctoral theses on ecumenical subjects were defended in December 2015, both of which received the highest rating of „excellent.“ While neither student was a Lutheran theologian, both have been active in recent years in various Institute activities, including offering lectures at our yearly Summer Seminar.
Emmanuel Dobre is a Romanian Orthodox. His work compared the Orthodox understanding of icons with the Reformation understanding of the Scripture. He was able to show that in the Orthodox understanding, it is by the power of the Holy Spirit that icons become bearers of the gospel. After presenting the Protestant understanding of Scripture, he stated the observable analogies between them. Dobre belongs to a group of younger theologians whom Patriarch Daniel of Romania has deliberately sent to Strasbourg to study so that they can be best educated in ecumenical matters at both the University and the Institute.
Anne Cathy Graber is a Mennonite and one of the four leaders of the Communauté du Chemin Neuf. She compared John Paul II’s encyclical on Mary, Redemptoris Mater, with Martin Luther’s commentary on the Magnificat. On this basis she stated the convergences and differences between them and showed how on the theme of Mary the questions that emerge in the context of ecumenical dialogue about the church can be recognized. This is not surprising, since even in newer Catholic theology the analogy between Mary and the church is always underlined. In this way in close cooperation with the Institute and under the direction of André Birmelé a work of more than 500 pages on the current state of dialogue about Mary comes forth. And it is the work of a Mennonite!