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1245Georgian Orthodox leader willing to resume collaboration with WCC

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  • Bill Samsonoff
    Jul 1, 2004
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      2004.06.30 WCC:

      COE (CommuniquÎs de presse) - GenÏve,Switzerland
      <http://www2.wcc-coe.org/pressreleasesfr.nsf/index/pr-04-15.html>
      Conseil oecumÎnique des Ãglises Bureau de la communication
      CommuniquÎ de presse

      150, route de Ferney, B.P. 2100, 1211 GenÏve 2, Suisse
      Courrier Îlectronique: media@...

      30 juin 2004

      Georgian Orthodox leader willing to resume collaboration with WCC
      The head of the Georgian Orthodox Church has expressed his willingness to
      resume collaboration with the World Council of Churches (WCC) following the
      first meeting of senior staff of the ecumenical body with the leadership of
      the church since its withdrawal from WCC in 1997.

      Catholicos-Patriarch Ilia II confirmed his church's interest in comments
      made following a meeting with a WCC staff delegation headed by WCC deputy
      general secretary Georges Lemopoulos in Tbilisi, Georgia. Accompanying
      Lemopoulos on the 27-29 June 2004 visit to Georgia were WCC staff members
      Sylvia Raulo and Tamara Grdzelidze. Among other issues, the church leaders
      expressed their interest in collaborating in the areas of social witness
      and service of the churches, as well as in response to the challenges of
      globalization and European integration.

      The three-million member Georgian Orthodox Church withdrew from membership
      in the WCC and other ecumenical organizations in 1997 after criticism of
      WCC orientations, and citing internal opposition to ecumenical relations.
      In 1998, the WCC set up a Special Commission on Orthodox participation in
      the WCC which sought to address some of the concerns articulated by
      Orthodox member churches. The report of the Special Commission was the main
      focus of discussion during a meeting with members of the Georgian Orthodox
      Theological Commission and with members of the Holy Synod.

      According to Lemopoulos, the meeting with the patriarch could be
      characterized as "promising" for future relationships between the WCC and
      the Georgian Orthodox Church. "The meeting confirmed that there is a mutual
      willingness to renew dialogue and cooperation, without ignoring the
      significant differences that persist," he said. Some sections of the
      Georgian Orthodox Church continue to express their opposition to ecumenical
      contacts.

      The WCC delegation also met with government officials, notably the deputy
      minister of foreign affairs, Mr Kote Kavtaradze, and the chairman of the
      foreign relations committee, Mr Kote Gabashvili. Both leaders emphasized
      that the Georgian Church could play a significant role in the new situation
      in Georgia following the November 2003 "rose revolution", and encouraged
      the revival of international church relationships.
      The Georgian Orthodox Church joined the WCC in 1961, and
      Catholicos-Patriarch Ilia II served as one of the presidents of WCC between
      1983 and 1991.
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