MGR DIMITRIOS SALACHAS (1939-2023)
A LEADING SPECIALIST IN THE LAW AND TRADITIONS OF THE EASTERN CHURCHES, BOTH CATHOLIC AND ORTHODOX, HAS PASSED AWAY
On 16 October, episkopos Dimitrios completed his journey on earth.
As a highly regarded professor of Eastern canon law at various Roman Pontifical Universities, the Ecumenical Institute of Bari and the Institut Catholique de Paris, Mgr Salachas trained several generations of canon lawyers. He received many invitations to speak at conferences, which he gladly accepted. He travelled enormously and still had trips scheduled for the coming months. Despite his many invitations and commitments, he was always working, researching and writing. The long list of his publications bears witness to this.
Mgr Salachas also devoted much of his time to consultations. He was a consultor to several Roman dicasteries and carried out this work with diligence, respect for the Church authorities and insight, always careful to ensure that the Eastern Churches were appreciated for their true worth.
Following the Second Vatican Council, Mgr Salachas played a crucial role in a number of important events and bodies. He took part in the drafting of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches (1973-1990); from 1973 until the end of his life, he was involved in the Society for the Law of the Eastern Churches (Vienna), taking an active part in all the conferences organised; from 1979 until 2019, he was a consultor to the Dicastery for the Promotion of Christian Unity and from the same year until 2022, a member of the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church.
Neither his elevation to the episcopate in 2008 with his appointment as Apostolic Exarch of Byzantine Rite Catholics in Greece, nor his resignation from this office in 2016, have changed much in the nature and pace of his activities.
As a friend of the ISO and the Study Center for the Eastern Churches, he came to Fribourg on several occasions to give lectures and talks, and he closely followed all the activities organised in these fields. Our personal relationship probably also contributed to this. His lectures in Paris raised my interest for the law of the Eastern Catholic Churches; he was one of the illustrious professors who taught me at the Pontifical Oriental Institute in Rome, and he agreed to co-direct my thesis. Afterwards, he always showed his collegiality and friendship towards me, including my family.
His death leaves a great void. We will miss his knowledge, his great culture, but also his critical eye, always with kindness, his humour and his friendship.
His funeral will take place on Friday 20 October at 10am in Athens.
May he rest in peace and his memory be eternal !