From the many messages, related to the 16th International Conference on Patristic Studies, I received the following one on the precarious state of Patristics in Italy, a message so full of passion, hope and despair that I thought I should share it with you:
I regret to confirm that I cannot -- at least physically -- participate at the present Conference. I am very very sad for this: I prepared an intriguing communication according to your indications and I was very joyful all the time expecting such an occasion to "breath" the Patristic pure air. Unfortunately, the economic status of my University is close to a "default" -- so to use an instant term. In the last biennium I reserved a short amount of euros just for my Oxford's expenses and also for any other necessity connected to the event. However, a Rector 's decree prevented me (and, of course, other associate professors) from using money to subscribe for congresses and for inviting colleagues. One might wonder: Is this not a harakiri for a university? Anyway, this is for the being time Italy. Moreover, the academic situation of Patristic studies -- and, in general, of the whole Classical realm -- is marching towards a collapse. The whole idea of Classical Studies is under attack in the Italian context dominated by (dis-)human scientists and, especially, by paedagogists and docimologists. Plus, the danger is not overt, but concealed in the political usual manner. The energies and food to resist such a globalized attack are poor and random-like, at least as for those scholars who -- like me -- do not have academic power and/or academic relations capable of yielding "apotropaic" fear... What one might oppose to this? I have not but my personal efforts and scientific honesty. ...As I usually say, my job is working "in partibus infidelium", and this is an interesting task for a scholar as well as for a christian. However, despite the number of papers written by me in the last years, I did not have my very chance to show in an appropriate context my account of Greek Patristic philosophical approach. This is the topic I was prepared to submit to your judgement at Oxford.
The state of affairs prevented me from having this opportunity. At least, for the the moment. I hope I could have another chance.
Finally, you could give me a great joy taking me, next week, as a "virtual" participant to the Conference: be sure that every day during the conference I will be spiritually unite to each participant by praying and studying Fathers in my room as it is possible.
Economy robbed me the joy to stay with you: however, it cannot robbe me the joy of connecting my soul with yours, Colleagues of any Country, as friendly as possible.