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Romanian Sibiu is Europe's ecumenical capital for a week

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  • Bill Samsonoff
    http://www.eni.ch/featured/article.php?id=1172 3 September 2007 | 07-0676 | Romanian Sibiu is Europe s ecumenical capital for a week Stephen Brown Sibiu,
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      http://www.eni.ch/featured/article.php?id=1172

      3 September 2007 | 07-0676 |

      Romanian Sibiu is Europe's ecumenical capital for a week
      Stephen Brown

      Sibiu, Romania (ENI). The city of Sibiu in
      central Romania which has been designated a
      European Capital of Culture for 2007 is for a few
      days to become the continent's "ecumenical
      capital", bringing together thousands of
      Christians from Europe's main churches.
      Archdeacon Colin Williams, general secretary of
      the Conference of European Churches, said he
      hoped the meeting would "give impetus to the
      search for greater unity between the churches of Europe".

      The European church grouping is organizing the
      4-9 September event with the Council of European
      (Roman Catholic) Bishops' Conferences (CCEE). The
      two groupings account for almost all of Europe's
      Roman Catholic, Protestant, Anglican, and Orthodox churches.

      "CEC and CCEE are determined that all that we do
      together in Sibiu will enable the voice of the
      Church to be heard more clearly in relation to
      the issues which affect our continent today -
      migration, justice, peace, environmental issues,
      relationship between faiths," said Williams.

      More than 2000 delegates are expected to gather
      in Sibiu for the Third European Ecumenical
      Assembly, which follows previous assemblies in
      Basel, Switzerland, in 1989, and Graz, Austria,
      in 1997. It is the first such gathering in a
      predominantly Orthodox and former communist
      country. The theme of the meeting is "The light
      of Christ shines upon all Hope for renewal and unity in Europe."

      Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomeos I, seen by many
      of the world's Orthodox Christians as their
      spiritual leader, is to preach at the opening
      service. Other keynote speakers include
      Metropolitan Daniel of the Romanian Orthodox
      Church, Dean Margarethe Isberg of the (Lutheran)
      Church of Sweden, Bishop Wolfgang Huber, who
      heads the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD),
      Cardinal Walter Kasper, the Vatican's top
      official for Christian unity, and Metropolitan
      Kirill of the Russian Orthodox Church.

      The president of the European Commission, José
      Manuel Barroso, and the general secretary of the
      World Council of Churches, the Rev. Samuel Kobia, are also scheduled to speak.

      The Sibiu meeting comes at a sensitive time in
      quest for Christian unity after a recent Vatican
      document dismayed many Protestant leaders with
      its statement that their denominations are not churches "in the proper sense".

      "If the Vatican says the churches of the
      Reformation are not churches in the proper sense,
      then it is setting up an ecumenical roadblock,"
      German Protestant Bishop Huber said in a speech at the end of August.

      The meeting also comes as the Romanian Orthodox
      Church seeks to elect a new leader after the
      death of Patriarch Teoctist at the end of July.
      He became Patriarch in 1986 during the era of
      Romania's communist dictator, Nicolae Ceausescu.
      Teoctist stood down following the country's
      December 1989 revolution but was reinstated as
      head of the church after four months.

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