Replenished & now allegedly "broader" ECUMENISM marches on......
- There is an alternative to ECUMENISM & that is being loyal to our Lord
Jesus Christ & His ORTHODOX CHURCH. All Orthodox Church members
should abandon their participation in the WCC & not the other way
Orthodox participation in ecumenical movement...
http://www.wfn.org - http://www.goarch.org - Orthodox Participation in Ecumenical Movement:
"There is no alternative to dialogue" 6 June 2003, cf. Press Release, PR-03-20, of 28 May
An appeal to the Bulgarian and Georgian Orthodox churches to reconsider their return to the
broad ecumenical world family was addressed by the participants at an international
academic symposium held in Thessaloniki from 1-3 June.
The request is contained in a letter addressed to H.B. Patriarch Maximos of Bulgaria and
H.B. Catholicos Elias, Patriarch of Georgia, signed by participants at a symposium
organized by the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki's Theological Faculty. With the
blessing of H.B. Christodoulos, Archbishop of Athens and all Greece, the symposium tackled
the theme "Orthodox Theology and Ecumenical Dialogue: Problems and Perspectives".
In their letter to the heads of Bulgarian and Georgian Orthodox churches, based on "hope
and Christian love", participants at the symposium "make an appeal, out of that love and
with deep respect, that your Holy Church review and reconsider its active participation in
the multilateral and bilateral dialogues and conversations, and also its return to the
broad ecumenical world family".
Both Churches withdrew from the World Council of Churches (WCC) in 1998. However, after the
WCC Central Committee received last August the substantial report from the Special
Commission on Orthodox Participation, there are "new possibilities for taking seriously and
dealing responsibly with Orthodox concerns", the letter said.
The letter was approved with applause by participants in the symposium, namely professors
from Thessaloniki's Theological Faculty and members of the Steering Committee of the
Special Commission on Orthodox Participation in the WCC. While those signing the letter
recognize that "the path of inter-Christian dialogue is difficult" they manifest their
unanimous agreement that "there is no alternative to dialogue".
The affirmation echoed statements made by Archbishop Christodoulos at the event's opening.
"In spite of the negative experience we have acquired all these years, we view the future
of the theological dialogues, and generally our collaboration with our non-Orthodox
brothers and sisters, with optimism," he said. And regarding theological dialogues in
particular, Archbishop Christodoulos said "...we arenot allowed to stop the dialogue and
break down the bridges of communication between Christians".
Recalling that the Church of Greece is "a founding member of the WCC of which it remains a
full member till today", the Archbishop of Athens said work carried out by the Special
Commission on Orthodox Participation in the WCC is a "pleasant development" that "created
hopes that as Orthodox we can have an equal voice with the Protestants". "I think that new
bases have been created for our presence in WCC", he stated.
At the same time that he voiced his "hope that more effective contribution of the Orthodox
in the decisions and activities of WCC will take place in the future," Archbishop
Christodoulos did not shy away from self-criticism: "If we, Orthodox, are indifferent and
we voluntarily stay in the margin, or if we are divided depending on the narrow interest of
our local Church, we must not complain for the situation in the WCC. The wrong is not
always on the others."
In his presentation, the WCC general secretary Rev. Dr. Konrad Raiser emphasized the
importance of the Orthodox contribution to the WCC during a public lecture at the
symposium's closing ceremony. The extensive summary began with "the fundamental decision on
the part of the Orthodox churches to assume a leading role in giving shape to the modern
ecumenical movement", translated in the encyclical of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of
Constantinople that proposed the establishment of a "league (fellowship) between the
churches" for the first time in 1920.
According to Raiser, perhaps the most important Orthodox contribution to the WCC was the
"consistent expression of the Orthodox commitment to the ecumenical fellowship of churches,
which has been re-affirmed in response to questions and sometimes harsh criticism from
within". And the "second major Orthodox contribution to unfolding the self-understanding of
the WCC" was to establish the christocentric affirmation of its Basis (the confession of
"the Lord Jesus Christ as God and Saviour") in a Trinitarian setting ("to the glory of the
one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit").
Raiser also referred to several other Orthodox contributions, such as the awareness of
conciliarity - "the fact that the church in all times needs assemblies to represent it and
has in fact felt this need" - as "a fundamental dimension in the understanding of the
church"; the decisive influence of Orthodox thinking in the convergence documents on
Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry, "particularly in terms of emphasis on the role of the Holy
Spirit"; and the "understanding of the missionary vocation of the church as well as of its
"There is no doubt for me that the active presence of the Orthodox churches in the WCC has
been essential in shaping the understanding of our common ecumenical calling", stated
Raiser towards the end of his presentation. And now, "the Special Commission and its
recommendations have moved us to the point where the Orthodox contribution to the life and
work of the WCC can be developed in fresh and constructive ways", he concluded.
Besides professors and members of the WCC Steering Committee, the symposium and discussions
were attended by representatives of other churches and academic institutions, a number of
Orthodox priests and students, and several WCC staff members.
For further information, please contact the Media Relations Office, tel: +41 (0)22 791 64
21 / 61 53
The World Council of Churches (WCC) is a fellowship of churches, now 342, in more than 100
countries in all continents from virtually all Christian traditions. The Roman Catholic
Church is not a member church but works cooperatively with the WCC. The highest governing
body is the assembly, which meets approximately every seven years. The WCC was formally
inaugurated in 1948 in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Its staff is headed by general secretary
Konrad Raiser from the Evangelical Church in Germany.
World Council of Churches, Media Relations Office - Tel: (41 22) 791 6153 / 791 6421
Fax: (41 22) 798 1346, E-mail: media@..., Web: www.wcc-coe.org
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