I just found out that Olivier Clément, a French-born Russian Orthodox theologian, died last month at the age of 87.
Olivier-Maurice Clément was born on November 17 1921 at Aniane in southern France, where the Cathar sect had been persecuted in the 12th century. His was a non-religious family, which left him to find meaning in life in his own way.
He encountered the Christian East among the Russian émigré community in Paris, particularly through the theologian Vladimir Lossky, and later said that he was attracted to the Orthodox union of “a sense of mystery and a sense of liberty”.
After being baptised as an Orthodox in 1951, he made his mark at the St Sergius Orthodox Theological Institute in Paris, where he started to lecture in moral theology.
What I know of Clément is mostly from reading his book “You Are Peter.” This book was in response to Pope John Paul II’s invitation in Ut Unum Sint for non-Catholic Christians to propose how they believed the office of the papacy could best be exercised in the modern world. To my knowledge, it was the only significant response to the invitation, and while not agreeing with many of its conclusions, I found Clément’s book a sincere attempt to engage the doctrine of papal primacy. I only wish more non-Catholics, especially Orthodox Christians, would have taken the Pope’s request more seriously.
Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.