1245Georgian Orthodox leader willing to resume collaboration with WCC
- Jul 1, 20042004.06.30 WCC:
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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
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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