"Love one another earnestly from the heart"
(1 Peter 1:22)
Visit of the Ecumenical Patriarch to Kiev (25-27 July 2008)
During its regular session, held on June 23-25, 2008, The Holy and Sacred Synod reviewed the invitations of His Beatitude Alexy, Patriarch of Moscow, requesting a Patriarchal Delegation to attend the festivities of the 1020th anniversary of the Christianization of the Kievan Rus and of His Excellency Viktor Yushchenko, President of Ukraine, to His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew to personally lead the aforementioned festivities.
Having evaluated the invitations of the Church, Nation and the Ukrainian people, and in honoring their feelings, the Mother Church – as the one who originally guided the Ukrainian people into baptism – decided to respond to the aforementioned invitations through the sending of a Patriarchal Delegation under the personal leadership of His All Holiness.
Gathered in a church dating from the 12th century, the World Council of Churches seemed like a relative youngster as it celebrated its 60th anniversary Sunday 17 February.
But His All Holiness Bartholomew I, Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, reminded the near-capacity congregation at Geneva's St. Pierre Cathedral that the WCC has accomplished much in its six decades.
"The Council has provided an ideal platform where churches with different outlooks and belonging to a great variety of theological and ecclesiological traditions have been able to engage in dialogue and promote Christian unity, while all the time responding to the manifold needs of contemporary society", the Orthodox leader said, speaking in French.
He acknowledged the challenges and "turbulent" periods in the Council's life, but said that dialogue resulted from those difficulties and has paved the way forward. At the WCC's Ninth Assembly in Porto Alegre, Brazil, two years ago, "markers for a new stage in the life of the Council" were laid down, he said.
The Ecumenical Patriarch, often referred to as the spiritual leader of the world's Orthodox, said he envisioned a future that will enable "a new generation of labourers to flourish in the ecumenical vineyard" and that retains a foundation of the "three pillars" of unity, witness, and service on which the WCC was built.
The WCC, he said, has the opportunity to locate itself "at the centre of the life of the global ecumenical village" in the 21st century, and he urged it to "go forward with hope".
Earlier, in welcoming the crowd to "this very special occasion in this very special place", WCC President from North America Rev. Dr Bernice Powell Jackson noted that the cathedral was an appropriate setting for marking the anniversary. It was, she said, "where the very first ecumenical service was held after World War II", in 1946.
The 90-minute service had an international flavour. The WCC's four working languages of English, French, German, and Spanish were all represented in music and word, plus there was a chorus in Greek, scripture readings in Swahili and Indonesian, and the upbeat music of the Valihan'i Jehovah Choir—a group from the ecumenical community of Madagascar based in Switzerland. Young adult stewards serving at this week's Central Committee meetings provided leadership for the service.
The choir closed the service by singing the word "peace" in a variety of languages, concluding with the ringing of small cymbals. As guests exited, each received a small flower pot containing a candle "as symbols (that) we are carrying the seed of peace and also the light of Christ which illuminates the world".
Numerous other church leaders were present at the service, including Bishop Brian Farrell, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity; the Venerable Colin Williams, general secretary of the Conference of European Churches; Rev. Dr Setri Nyomi, general secretary of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches; Rev. Dr Ishmael Noko, general secretary of the Lutheran World Federation; and other Orthodox, Protestant, Roman Catholic, ecumenical, and government officials.
By the grace of God
Archbishop of Constantinople, New Rome
And Ecumenical Patriarch
To the Plenitude of the Church
Grace, mercy and peace
From the savior Christ born in Bethlehem
Christ is born, glorify Him;
Christ comes from heaven, meet Him.
Beloved brothers and children in the Lord,
It is with great joy that our Church calls us to glorify God for His loving and personal presence on earth of Christ in divino-human hypostasis, being one of the three persons of the Holy Trinity.
We must, therefore, examine very carefully the true and life-giving significance of the incarnation of the Son and Word of God. For, first, it reveals to humanity that God is personal and is made manifest to us as personal, just as He has also created us as persons; second, it reveals to us that God embraces us with His love. These two events, the personhood and love of God, express fundamental truths of our faith, which of course we have heard about many times. Nevertheless, their impact upon our lives is not as great as it should be, inasmuch as many of us do neither experience Christ’s brotherhood and His boundless love for us in a personal way, nor do we in turn return our love to Christ in order that, by sharing in His love, we may also share by grace in His other properties.
If others – who have not known Christ and, as a result, drown in their search for an impersonal being that they perceive as divine – are somewhat justified, we Orthodox Christians are not at all justified in pursuing such ways that lead to an impasse. For, instead of seeking God as person and approaching Him in the one who approach us, namely Jesus Christ, these deceived people desperately strive to become divine through their own powers, like Adam thought he could achieve by obeying the evil spirit. However, the true and personal God, who is known only through Jesus Christ – the one born in a manger out of love for us – promised us adoption and return to the bosom of the Father, as well as deification by grace through Christ. It is only through Christ that one may fulfill the universal human desire to transcend the corruption and isolation of an existence without love and the cultivation of communion among divine and human persons in love, which leads to eternity and incorruption.
Let us, therefore, turn the gaze of our hearts toward the newly born Jesus Christ in the manger, so that – by considering how much He loves us – we might love Him with all our heart, mind and being. It is only through the love of Jesus Christ that we may by grace become participants also in His divine nature, just as through love He shared in our human nature. Anthropocentric efforts and thoughts, psychedelic states and ecstasy, together with similar non-Christian experiences do not lead to an encounter of the truly personal God of love, but to a deep and cold darkness, to the gloom of eternal destruction, as well as to a sense of complete and abysmal vacuum.
For this reason, beloved children in the Lord, love Jesus Christ, who out of love for us and for our salvation became human; come to know the communion of His love, with the Father and the Holy Spirit. Indeed, there is nothing sweeter than the love of the personal God.
The great herald of divine love is the one who identified God and love, namely St. John the Evangelist and Theologian, who pronounced the supreme uttering, that “God is love.” After him, the great herald is St. Paul the Apostle, who love God to the end and who asked the fervent question: “Who can separate us from the love of Christ?” Neither sorrow nor sword, neither death nor any other love can be more powerful than our love for Christ. In remembrance of the words and loving works of St. Paul, and in celebration of two millennia since his birth, we declare the coming year 2008 as the year of the Apostle Paul.
We pray paternally and fervently that Jesus Christ, who was born in a manger out of love and for our salvation, may render our hearts as His manger, through the intercessions of His ever-Virgin Mother, as well as of our predecessor St. John Chrysostom, to whose memory we had dedicated this past year, together with the intercessions of another Patriarchal predecessor, St. Niphon, restorer and second founder of the Holy Patriarchal and Stavropegic Monastery of St. Dionysius on Mount Athos, which next year celebrates the 500th anniversary since his repose, as well as of Saints John and Paul the Apostles, par excellence heralds of God’s love, but also of all the saints, so that He may reveal to everyone the person of His love.
We invoke upon all of you His grace and rich mercy. Merry Christmas; may the twelve days of Christmas be blessed; and may the New Year be spiritually and materially fruitful.
Phanar, Christmas 2007
Fervent supplicant for all to God
Patriarchal Discourse on Holy Pascha 2007
Prot. No. 310
BY THE MERCY OF GOD
ARCHBISHOP OF CONSTANTINOPLE,
NEW ROME AND ECUMENICAL PATRIARCH
TO THE FULLNESS OF THE CHURCH GRACE, JOY, PEACE AND MERCY FROM HIM WHO WAS RISEN IN GLORY, CHRIST OUR SAVIOUR
Beloved Concelebrants and pious and God-loving children of the Church,
CHRIST HAS RISEN!
Once again we hear this joyful Christian greeting within our Christian Communities. But many of these prosperous Communities disregard the question and very real issue of death, and live as though death did not exist and the resurrection was without meaning. However, “Fearful is the mystery of death”, as the hymnographer says and our daily reality reiterates. The fear of death, which is most acute in those who confront problems of health or old age, even when it is alleviated in a variety of ways, consumes our peace of mind, fills the soul with irrational anxiety and often leads to suicide, for the relentless insecurity becomes unbearable.
The Resurrection of Christ put an end to this insecurity. Death is no longer the ruler of life; it is not the unavoidable end of our existence. Our tomb stones do not overshadow our existence for ever with an everlasting silence. The stone which shut the tomb of Christ was rolled away, and Christ came forth triumphant, master over death, unscathed by its sting, the firstborn of the dead. From that moment, the door of the tomb remained open behind Him for all.
The fear of death has vanished for all who wish to follow in the footsteps of Christ. All things have been filled with joy and hope. “Where, Death, is your sting? Where, Hell, is your victory?, asked my predecessor Saint John Chrysostom in triumph.
To many, our words still sound like “an idle tale” [Luke 24:11]. The Athenians in Pnyx, hearing the Apostle Paul speaking of the Resurrection of the dead, ridiculed him and left, telling him sarcastically, “We’ll hear you again some time!” Even the Apostles, who had heard from the Lord that He would rise on the third day, hesitated to accept the proclamation of the Myrrh-bearing women that the Lord had risen.
However, brethren and beloved children in the Lord, we live the ever-present death and continuous Resurrection of the Lord, not only in the sacrifice of Golgotha that we see portrayed in our churches, but also in the lives of the saints, ancient and contemporary. The Lord rose and granted life. But He also continues to grant resurrection and life. Death is now a gate of passage to a new state of life. It has ceased to be a prison for souls, a dead end, a state without hope. The boundaries of death’s stronghold were broken down, its gates shattered, and everyone who follows Christ is able to return to life with Christ.
Believe, brethren and children, and have hope! Be free from the fear of death and life’s anxieties, because for the Faithful, like yourselves, death is no more. Only, cleanse your souls and bodies and enrol as followers of Christ, Who is also your own Resurrection. Christ has risen and you are all potentially risen. The glad and joyful message of the Resurrection is a message for you. It is not something foreign or irrelevant to you. Your mouths should be filled with joy when you say, “Christ has risen!” For “Truly He has risen!” and we are raised with Him.
May His life-giving Grace, “which heals what is infirm and makes up what is lacking”, be with you all. Amen.
Holy Pascha 2007
+ Archbishop of Constantinople Bartholomew
Fervent Intercessor to The Risen Christ for you all
Cathchetical Homily on the beginning of Holy and Great Lent (2007)
+ B A R T H O L O M E W
BY THE MERCY OF GOD
ARCHBISHOP OF CONSTANTINOPLE,
NEW ROME, AND ECUMENICAL PATRIARCH,
TO THE PLENITUDE OF THE CHURCH,
GRACE AND PEACE
FROM OUR LORD AND SAVIOR JESUS CHRIST,
TOGETHER WITH OUR PRAYER,
BLESSING AND FORGIVENESS
“The time has come which is the beginning of spiritual struggles.”
(Hymn of the Ainoi of the Cheese Fare Sunday)
Beloved brothers and children in the Lord,
It is with these words that the Sacred Hymnographer reminds us of our obligation to intensify our spiritual struggles for the benefit of our spiritual training and progress during this period of Holy and Great Lent which is about to begin.
Humanity realized from ancient times that good things can only be acquired through hard work. Likewise did the Holy Fathers realize that in order to savor divine love, within which everything good, both eternal and temporal coexists, the contempt of repose is considered necessary, as Abba Isaac the Syrian says characteristically. And on the one hand, the material goods and commodities are what we humans pursue and acquire through great trouble, which we are usually ready for and willing to undergo.
However, spiritual goods are offered to us by God, under the condition that first and foremost it is Him and His love that we seek in all honesty, and not the spirituals gifts themselves in a selfish manner for our own satisfaction, or our vainglory. The Lord Himself made it clear to us when He said that we ought to: “… seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matt. 6:33). He also assured us that the person, who offers to give up his or her life for the love of God, will be the one who will save his or her life. Namely, the person, who magnanimously aims at the love of God the Father and does not pursue faint-heartedly the material, or spiritual gifts of God without Him, will be in the end the person who will enjoy both the love of God for which he strives for, as well as all the material goods, for which he does not strive for...
ALLOCUTION DE SA SAINTETE LE PATRIARCHE OECUMENIQUE BARTHOLOMEOS
LORS DE L’OUVERTURE OFFICIELLE DE LA CONFERENCE «CITOYENS DE LA TERRE»
(Palais de l’Elysée, 2 février 2007).
Monsieur le Président de la République,
C’est un grand honneur pour nous de prendre part à une si illustre assemblée et de participer à un débat sur la crise qui touche toutes les formes de vie de notre planète. Nous partageons entièrement les sentiments qui vous ont amené à organiser cette conférence. Comme vous, nous pensons que ce n’est pas seulement par des mesures techniques que l’on peut s’attaquer à la crise écologique. Le seul espoir pour l’avenir de l’humanité se trouve en effet dans l’émergence d’un nouveau sens de la responsabilité commune et du caractère collectif de la destinée des peuples de toutes races, de toutes religions, de toutes conditions économiques.
C’est précisément dans cet esprit que le Patriarcat œcuménique, une des institutions spirituelles les plus anciennes au monde, lance depuis plus de dix ans des initiatives dans le domaine de la protection de l’environnement, en vue de réconcilier les observations de la science et la sagesse de la religion. Nous avons notamment organisé six symposia sur le thème de l’eau. Ces conférences flottantes ont constitué des espaces de rencontre et d’impulsion commune pour les écologistes, les économistes, les décideurs politiques, les journalistes, les représentants religieux et les citoyens ordinaires. À ce jour, nous avons organisé des symposia sur la mer Égée, la mer Noire, le Danube, la mer Adriatique, la Baltique et l’Amazone...
Speech of His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch BARTHOLOMEW to the Plenary of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. 22 January 2007. Strasbourg, France.
Topic: The necessity and goals of Interreligious Dialogue
Your Excellency, Mr. René Van der Linden, President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe,
Your Excellencies, Honorable and Distinguished members of this Assembly of the Council,
Dear friends, We convey to you greetings of love and honor from the Church of Constantinople, based for centuries in Istanbul of today. We extend to all of you with sincere joy the blessings and warmest wishes for both personal and collective happiness and longevity.
Furthermore, we would like to express our gratitude for this honoring invitation to us to demonstrate in your presence our concerns and thoughts on this very timely and extremely interesting topic, namely “The necessity and goals of Interreligious Dialogue”.
We are well aware of and we commend your zeal for human rights, for the rapproach and the mutual acceptance of cultures, and for the peaceful cooperation of the peoples, and we are fully aware that you know more than what we are about to tell you. We take courage to address you in order to state as loud and clear as we can, that as the first Bishop of the Orthodox Church we congratulate your work and your principles. We work with our limited powers for the predomination of the respect of human rights on a universal level, especially where religious traditions oppose one another on this issue...
Patriarchal Proclamation Upon the Feast of the Christmas 2006.
+ B A R T H O L O M E W
BY THE MERCY OF GOD
ARCHBISHOP OF CONSTANTINOPLE,
NEW ROME, AND ECUMENICAL PATRIARCH,
TO THE PLENITUDE OF THE CHURCH,
GRACE, PEACE, AND MERCY
FROM CHRIST OUR SAVIOUR,
BORN IN BETHLEHEM
"God on earth, man in heaven; and all became mingled together."
St. John Chrysostom
Brothers, Sisters and beloved Children in the Lord,
The human mind finds it difficult to comprehend the immense change the Birth of Christ brought about in the world. He who was born in the manger of Bethlehem was not an ordinary child like the ones that are born every day. He is the Creator of the entire universe, come down to our level, in order to lift up His creature and restore him to the heights from which he had fallen.
According to the plan of the Creator, which is full of love, man was created with the capacity to achieve divinity. Due to his own failings, however, he strayed from the right path and became enslaved to decay and death. In order to restore to man the potential to become divine, God had to become incarnate, to take on flesh, for the sake of fallen, perishable and sinful man who, being a creature of earth, could not by his own means transcend his mortal nature and become like God.
The idea of God's incarnation was something that not even the most vivid human imagination could come up with; no one dared even to consider this unexpected event as a possibility. Only the Prophets, inspired by the Holy Spirit, prophesized that such occurrence would be possible through God. Indeed, the night of Christmas, the unexpected became real. "God [is] on earth, man in heaven", exclaims St. John Chrysostom in admiration.
This world-altering event is not irrelevant to our life. Its significance is not exhausted in the fleeting celebratory festivities. We ought to contemplate the new situation with great seriousness. The Birth of Christ gives us the opportunity to transcend our mortality, ascend to heaven, live with Christ, be reconciled to God, enjoy His adoption, live in the inexhaustible joy of His love unto the ages.
Let us celebrate spiritually the grace of God offered to man together with the Angels and Saints, and let us begin a new life, worthy of the calling of the Incarnate God. The stirring event of Christ’s Birth, although it occurred inconspicuously and humbly, has caused immense changes to the Universe and particularly to the future of each person. We should take care not to undervalue its importance, simply because it took place in historically humble and simple circumstances. Nor should we celebrate the event in a boisterous and superficial manner that would befit a seasonal celebration that had no other significance for our life beyond providing an opportunity for secular revelry.
Although the events surrounding the Birth of our Lord Jesus Christ are not visible by our mortal human eyes, there are some who, by the grace of God, have seen and described the deeper events and the resulting mystical change of the world. Here is how our saintly predecessor on the Patriarchal Throne, John Chrysostom describes this sacred event, dazzled by what he has perceived:
"Angels joined the choirs of men, men had fellowship with the angels and with the other celestial powers; and one might see … reconciliation made between God and our nature, the devil brought to shame, demons in flight, death destroyed, Paradise open, the curse eradicated, sin done away with, error driven off, truth returning, the word of piety everywhere sown and flourishing in its growth, the heavenly City planted on earth, angels continually brought to the earth and abundant hope for things to come" (P.G. 57, 15-16).
Children, brothers and sisters, may we see this very hope for things to come realized in our life through the prayers of great Saint John Chrysostom, who intercedes before us to the Lord in heaven together with all the Saints. This coming year will mark the sixteen hundredth anniversary of the falling asleep in the Lord of this Saint, and thus, the Ecumenical Patriarchate proclaims this to be the year of Saint John Chrysostom, so that we may give the urge to the faithful to study his work and more closely examine his life.
Brothers and Sisters!
Christ is born: glorify Him!
Christ is come from heaven: go to meet Him!
Christ is on earth: be lifted up!
To this God who so loves mankind that He was born for us in the flesh at Christmas, be the honor, the thanksgiving, the glory and the worship unto the ages of ages. Amen.
At the Phanar, Christmas 2006
Patriarch of Constantinople
your fervent supplicant before God
MEETING OF THE WORLD COUNCIL OF CHURCHES’ OFFICERS
Phanar, 13-16 December 2006
The Meeting of the World Council of Churhces’ Officers took place from 13-16 December 2006 at the See of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, Phanar, Istanbul, Turkey, under the auspices of His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew.
Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew received in audience today, Thursday, 14 December 2006, the new Officers of the Central Committee of the World Council of Churches: Revd Dr Walter Altmann (Moderator); Metropolitan Prof. Dr Gennadios of Sassima (Vice-Moderator); Revd Dr Margaretha Hendriks - Ririmasse (Vice-Moderator) and Revd Dr Samuel Kobia (General Secretary), accompanied by the World Council of Churches’ Staff: Mr Georges Lemopoulos (Deputy General Secretary); Dr William Temu (Associate General Secretary), and Revd Sabine Udodesku (Assistant to the General Secretary).
His All Holiness welcomed very warmly the high level WCC Officers on behalf of the Church of Constantinople and thanked them for choosing the Ecumenical Patriarchate as the place for this meeting. He congratulated wholeheartedly the newly elected officers, entrusted with such an important ecumenical ministry at the WCC General Assembly in Porto Alegre, Brazil, last February, and wished them a blessed, fruitful and constructive term of service.
Patriarch Bartholomew underlined the fact that the Ecumenical Patriarchate is one of the Founding Member Churches of the WCC and plays a significant role in the Ecumenical Movement since the beginning of the 20th century. The particular interest and deep commitment of the Ecumenical Patriarchate is manifest through its strong presence in the various commissions of the WCC. Meanwhile, His All Holiness stressed the readiness of the Church of Constantinople to always promote dialogue, not only between the Christian Churches, but also between Christianity and the other monotheistic religions.
The “Green Patriarch”, as he is called, Patriarch Bartholomew, also referred to the ecological initiatives and activities of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and to his recent trip to Brazil within the framework of the 6th International Inter-religious Ecological Symposium, which had as its theme the protection of the Amazon river.
The new moderator of the Central Committee, Revd Dr Walter Altmann, President of The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Brazil, responding to the Ecumenical Patriarch, offered the following:
«Your All Holiness,
It is a great pleasure for all of us, Officers and members of the Staff Leadership Group of the WCC to be here, in the apostolic and historical Church of Constantinople, hosted by the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
It is a great honor to all of us to be received by Your All Holiness today, in a spirit of Christian friendship and love, in a spirit of a genuine commitment to the unity of the church, in a spirit of deep awareness of our common calling within a suffering world….
Indeed, the Church of Constantinople has been a truly “ecumenical” church throughout the history…, the real “ecumenical” character and nature of this Church…, being tangibly manifested in her many historical initiatives.
However, the series of the many “ecumenical” initiatives undertaken by this Church are not limited to promoting dialogue among Christians. Your All Holiness has personally become a leading figure of the contemporary ecumenical movement by continuing the long-standing tradition of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and playing an active role in the fields of; inter-religious dialogue and collaboration, reconciliation among peoples and cultures, and the protection of the natural environment.
For all these we are grateful, as we are grateful for the permanent support of the Church of Constantinople to the WCC. One expression of this care and support is the presence of Metropolitan Gennadios of Sassima among us today, as one of us, the Officers, representing the WCC….
We envisage full communion. We engage with passion in the struggle against poverty and injustice. We work for the reconciliation and peace. There are, assuredly, many hindrances and obstacles along the paths of our ecumenical journey. But, as the Apostle Paul says writing to the congregation in Corinth, “we are perplexed, but not driven to despair” (2 Co 4:8)….
Therefore, our prayer is: “God, in your grace, transform our hope. Transform our feeble hopes into that hope which comes from Christ’s resurrection and therefore transforms the whole world. This is the hope that will bring new life into our lives, our churches and the ecumenical movement. Yes, we do hope, “against hope”».
The Officers and the WCC Staff also had the opportunity to visit famous archeological sites of the City and to enjoy the generous hospitality of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
At the Ecumenical Patriarchate/ Phanar, 15 December 2006
XIII Session of the International Joint Commission of the Theological Dialogue between the Orthodox Church and the Lutheran World Federation (LWF). Bratislava, Slovak Republic, 2-9 November 2006
1. The 13th meeting of the International Joint Commission of the theological dialogue between the Orthodox Church and the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) was held in Bratislava, Slovak Republic, from 2 – 9 November 2006. It was generously hosted, on behalf of the LWF, by the Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession in the Slovak Republic. Co-presidents of the Joint Commission are H.E. Metropolitan Prof. Dr Gennadios of Sassima (Ecumenical Patriarchate) and Bishop Donald McCoid (LWF).
2. Orthodox participants were delegates from the following churches: H.E. Metropolitan Prof. Dr Gennadios of Sassima and Revd Deacon Theodoros Meimaris (Ecumenical Patriarchate), H.E. Metropolitan Dr Makarios of Kenya and Irinoupolis (Patriarchate of Alexandria), Maître Albert Laham (Patriarchate of Antioch), V. Revd Protopresbyter Prof. Dr George Dion Dragas (Patriarchate of Jerusalem), Prof. Dr Alexej Ossipov (Patriarchate of Moscow), V. Revd Prof. Dr Viorel Ionita (Patriarchate of Romania), Prof. Dr Christos Voulgaris (Church of Greece), Dr Nathan Hoppe (Church of Albania), Revd Prof. Dr Vaclav Jezek (Church of Czech Lands and Slovakia), V. Revd Rauno Pietarinen (Church of Finland) and V. Revd Mattias Palli (Church of Estonia).
3. The twelve Lutheran participants, by appointment of the Council of the LWF, came from LWF member churches.
4. Contacts between Orthodox theologians from the Ecumenical Patriarchate and Lutheran professors of the University of Tübingen, Germany began already at the time of the 16th century Reformation in Europe. Thus the dialogue has precedence in history. Present official conversations began in 1981 in Espoo, Finland, after three years of preparatory meetings. The present meeting therefore marks the 25th anniversary of the Joint Commission.
5. This 13th Joint Commission discussed the fourth sub-theme of the dialogue: “The Holy Eucharist in the Life of the Church”. For this purpose the Preparatory Meeting took place 8-13 October 2005 in Erlangen, Germany, which heard Orthodox and Lutheran theological papers on the theme and prepared a Draft Statement. From the Lutheran side a paper was presented by Prof. Dr Karl Christian Felmy and Dr Jennifer Wasmuth on “The Lutheran Understanding of the Eucharist” and by Bishop Esbjörn Hagberg on “The Spirituality of the Eucharist and its practical implications in Evangelical Lutheran church life”. From the Orthodox side Prof. Dr Viorel Ionita presented the Orthodox paper on “The Holy Sacrament (Mysterion) of the Eucharist: An Orthodox Perspective”. An Orthodox response paper was submitted by Maître Albert Laham. In Bratislava, the Draft Statement, together with the theological papers, supplemented by a paper by Prof. Dr Alexej Ossipov, were presented as a basis for the deliberations of the Plenary Meeting and the elaboration of an Agreed Statement.
6. The Joint Commission expressed once again its strong affirmation of the continuation of the dialogue between the two traditions. It experiences a genuine growth in mutual ecumenical understanding and appreciation. The Commission adopted an Agreed Statement on the theme of the meeting. According to this statement, Orthodox and Lutherans both confess that Christ’s body and blood are united with bread and wine, to be consumed by communicants, uniting them with Christ and with each other. The statement explored the two traditions’ differing, but often converging reflections on the mystery of how the sacramental union takes place and on the sacrificial aspect of the Eucharist. Together they underscored the Eucharist’s eschatological dimension and stressed its significance for ecology and social action.
7. Discussions of the Joint Commission are accompanied and supported by daily prayers. On Saturday, 4 November, the Commission celebrated the 25th anniversary with a celebration at the Theological Faculty of the Comenius University in Bratislava in the presence of local church leaders and ecumenical guests. The main presentation on the topic was presented by the Orthodox Co-President, H. E. Metropolitan Prof. Dr Gennadios of Sassima : ”The Orthodox Church being in Theological Dialogue for twenty-five years with the Lutheran Churches: The past and the present, hopes and challenges”. A Lutheran presentation on the same topic was also written by Prof. Dr Risto Saarinen, which was read in his absence due to illness, by Bishop Donald McCoid. Ecumenical greetings were also presented and a festive dinner was given by the local Lutheran church.
8. During the meeting a message with blessings and prayers was received from His All Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. Greetings with assurances of prayers were received from Rev. Dr. Ishmael Noko, General Secretary of the LWF.
9. On Sunday, 5 November, the Commission attended the Lutheran worship in the (English-speaking) International Congregation at the “Small Church” in Bratislava, where Metropolitan Gennadios of Sassima addressed worm greetings on behalf of the Joint Commission, followed by a welcome by the congregation of the Lutheran “Big Church” and a presentation of this church by its pastor. In the afternoon participants went on an excursion to Cerveny Kamen Castle.
10. On Tuesday 7 November the Joint Commission members were invited to attend an Orthodox Divine Liturgy at the Orthodox Church in Bratislava.
11. The 13th Joint Commission meeting concluded with prayers and mutual words of thanks by the Co-Presidents. For its next meeting, the Commission agreed to extend its reflection on The Holy Eucharist in the Life of the Church and to work on the following topics: Preparation and Celebration of the Eucharist; Eucharist and Ecology (including Human Society).
12. The next Preparatory Meeting is scheduled from 3 – 8 October 2007 in Joensuu, Finland.
MANAUS, July 14, 2006 * Over 200 religious leaders, scientists, environmentalists, and government officials from Brazil and around the world gathered on the Amazon River today to examine the environmental challenges and ethical issues relating to the protection of nature. They meeting is being held under the auspices of the spiritual leader of the Eastern Orthodox Church, HAH Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, and United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan.
The week-long Amazon Symposium will take place from July 14-20, 2006, and will begin in Manaus. Traveling up the river in ten boats, the Symposium will visit various environmental sites, giving the delegates an opportunity to examine the Amazon's conditions and to meet and discuss issues with local residents and experts.
During the meetings opening session, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew said:
Perhaps no other place in the world reflects so apparently or records so articulately both the sacred beauty of creation and the consequences of human choices. A spiritual worldview should inform our concept of creation and define our conduct within this world. This worldview is neither a political aim nor an economic strategy. It is essentially a way of reflecting on what it means to perceive the world through the lens of the soul."
Statements were read from Pope Benedict XI and UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.
Pope Benedict XVI expressed his hope that the Symposium will "draw once again the attention of populations and governments to the problems, the needs and the emergencies of a region which is so much tested and whose ecological stability is so much threatened."
United Nations Secretary General Annan said:
"The Amazon is not only the largest basin on the planet, it is also one of the least understood. [The] Symposium can help to educate people about the Amazon's importance * for example as a repository of biodiversity*.The struggle in the Amazon Basin mirrors the ups and downs of the wider, global quest for sustainable development."
Brazilian Minister of Environment Marina da Silva, representing President Lula Inacio da Silva, said:
"We need to act so that not all natural resources will be destroyed by the greed of a few people in a few decades*It's too late in many countries, but in Brazil we can still solve it, we can still do something [to protect the environment]."
The Symposium will begin in Manaus, with visits to the SIVAM satellite mapping facilities and the ZF2 rainforest observation tower, and will travel to Santarem, Jau National Park, the Anavilhanas archipelago and Mamiraua. Throughout the voyage, international and regional delegates will discuss topics ranging from environmental ethics to specific issues relating to the Amazon, such as deforestation and biodiversity loss, the introduction of genetically modified organisms into Amazon ecosystems, the rights and struggles of indigenous and traditional peoples and the Amazon's impact on global climate change.
Speakers and delegates to participate include noted religious leaders, such as HE Metropolitan John of Pergamon; HE Cardinal Etchegaray; and distinguished public figures, including Brazilian Environment Minister Marina da Silva, Roberto Smeraldi, Director, Friends of the Earth, Brazilian Amazonia; Muriel Saragoussi, Secretary for Amazon Coordination, Brazilian Ministry of Environment; Ricardo Sanchez Sosa, Director and Regional Representative, United Nations Environment Programme; Sir Ghilean Prance, Scientific Director, The Eden Project; Rosalia Arteaga, General Secretary of the Amazon Treaty Organization; John Hemming, former Director and Secretary of the Royal Geographic Society; environmental activist Vandana Shiva and a number of other noted scientific, environmental and government figures.
Religion, Science and the Environment (RSE) is a non-governmental organisation based in Athens, Greece. Established in 1995, RSE seeks to provide common ground among the worlds of religion, science and the environment in the interest of protecting the environment. This mission has been addressed by holding five water-based symposia * Symposia I on the Aegean Sea (1995), Symposium II on the Black Sea (1997), Symposium III on the Danube River (1999), Symposium IV on the Adriatic Sea (2002) and Symposium V on the Baltic Sea (2003) as well as creating the Halki Ecological Institute and other training initiatives. RSE's programs aim to raise awareness of the plight of the world's waters; to strengthen local capacities for environmental protection; and to catalyse projects that will benefit targeted water bodies. The organisation's strategies are animated by a core belief that the analytical tools of science and the spiritual messages of religion must work in harmony if the earth's environment is to be safeguarded against further degradation.
26.05.06 - 01.06.06
Church of Greece's head visit to the World Council of Churches
Archbishop Christodoulos of Athens and all Greece visited the World Council of Churches (WCC) from 28 May - 1 June. It is the first time an archbishop of Athens visits officially the WCC.
In what it is the first official visit to the WCC by the head of the Church of Greece - one of the founding members of the Council - Christodoulos met the WCC general secretary Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia and participated in a programme of discussions on the ecumenical landscape and the role of the WCC.
Meetings with the general secretaries of the Lutheran World Federation, Rev. Dr Ishmael Noko, the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, Rev. Dr Setri Nyomi, and the Conference of European Churches, Rev. Colin Williams, as well as with representatives of Geneva churches were also on the archbishop's agenda.
Elected Archbishop of Athens and all Greece in 1998, Christodoulos is known for his strong social engagement and views on contemporary issues such as globalization, migration and European unity. He has actively promoted the relations of his church with the WCC and other inter-church organizations, as well as with the Roman Catholic Church.
During his stay, Christodoulos met the UN high commissioner for refugees, Mr António Guterres, members of the Swiss Federal Council, members of the Geneva Council of State, the mayor of Geneva, Mr Manuel Tornare, and the rector of the University of Geneva, Dr André Hurst.
At the Ecumenical Institute of Bossey, Archbishop Christodoulos met members of the faculty and students as well as Geneva University professors. He will announce a grant from his church to fund an annual scholarship at the Institute.
The Archbishop gave a lecture at the University of Geneva on "The role of the church within Greek society: the example of bioethics" (Tuesday, 30 May, 18:30, Salle Reverdin). He also visited the International Organization for Migration and UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
As part of the visit programme, the Philharmonic Orchestra of Athens interpret ed "The highest virtue" (inspired by the Olympic movement) at a public concert at the Ecumenical Centre on Sunday, 28 May, at 17:00.
On Tuesday, 30 May at 14:30, also at the Ecumenical Centre, Metropolitan Nikolaos of Mesogaia and Lavreotiki, chair of the bioethics committee of the Church of Greece and head of the Hellenic Center for Biomedical Ethics, spoke at a public hearing on the issue of bioethics.
Heir of a history that goes back to the Apostle Paul, the Church of Greece is currently concerned with issues like the Christian response to globalization, interreligious dialogue, and a common Christian voice within the framework of the European Union. The church has established a centre for bioethics and is also involved in relief and development work through the NGO "Solidarity".
The Church of Greece hosted the WCC World Conference on Mission and Evangelism in Athens in 2005, the first that took place in a predominantly Orthodox context.
Archbishop Christodoulos was available at a press conference on Wednesday, 31 May at 12:00 at the Ecumenical Centre. French and English interpretation was provided.
+ B A R T H O L O M E W,
BY THE GRACE OF GOD ARCHBISHOP OF CONSTANTINOPLE,
NEW ROME, AND ECUMENICAL PATRIARCH,
TO THE PLENITUDE OF THE CHURCH,
GRACE, PEACE AND MERCY
FROM CHRIST THE SAVIOUR, RISEN IN GLORY
"O life, how can you die? How can you dwell in a tomb?"
Brother concelebrants and pious, God-loving children of the Church,
All of Nature, the choirs of angels, the multitudes of humankind: all are astonished and amazed. The entire creation stands in fear and trembling in the presence of the great and unspeakable Mystery of the Holy Passion and the glorious Resurrection of Christ the Savior, and asks: "How is it possible that Life, true Life, Life itself, the source of Life, can die? How can a grave become the dwelling place of Life, of our Lord Jesus Christ Who said of himself, "I am … the life " (John 14:6)? The answers are revealed to us in the Resurrection.
Many of the questions asked in days of old remain unanswered today. What happened then, once and for all, is repeated without ceasing. The Mystery continues, as does our wonder. Christ remains for many in our own day "a sign that is spoken against" (Lk 2:34). He is crucified, but He rises to life. The Crucified One remains to some a stumbling block; to others, foolishness (1 Cor 1:23). Some scoff upon hearing of the Resurrected One (Acts 17:32); others slander Him (Matt 28: 11-15); but He reigns in the hearts of the faithful.
We, the faithful, enjoy a foretaste of the Resurrection. We live in the Resurrection, not fearing the physical death of the body because we believe in the Resurrection of Christ and human beings. We experience it as a reality through our fellowship with the Saints who, although they died according to human understanding, in reality live on and communicate with us and help us in our lives.
The shrill voice of fanaticism, however, which rang out then and which has been ringing out unceasingly ever since, continues to cry: "Crucify him, crucify him!" The powerful ones of this world, who answered such cries with cowardice and denial of responsibility, continue to reply: "Take him yourselves and crucify him" (John, 19:6).
Life is risen! Christ is Risen! And we bear witness to His Resurrection not only by offering rational arguments and proofs but rather by living our lives in accordance with the Resurrection. Only then does our witness become credible, when the Resurrected Christ lives within us, when our entire being radiates the joy, certainty and peace of the Resurrection.
Certainly, our lives and the life of our natural environment remain threatened by death. We do not mean here decay and deterioration in the biological sense, but rather those types of death and destruction brought about suddenly, in cruel and violent ways; ways that challenge our conscience, trivialize the human person, and mangle the beauty of nature.
We mean, among other things, that death which puts an end to human life before it even has the chance to see the light of the sun.
We mean those countless children, who lose their lives because of poverty, hunger, the lack of even the most basic medicine, the cruelty of those who have the power to do but who do not do what is necessary to save these children, the impudence of the exploiters and corrupters of children’s innocence.
We mean the victims of daily acts of violence, of religious, nationalistic, and racial clashes, as well as the victims of fanaticism and war. Such acts are callously and uncaringly carried out by those who turn deaf ears to humanity’s call for the end of hostilities and the establishment of peace throughout the world.
Finally, we mean the plundering of the natural environment by human beings who, driven by greed and the lust for profit, violently and cunningly subordinate and exploit it. Such conduct not only distorts the beauty of creation given by its Creator but also undermines the foundations and conditions necessary for the survival of future generations.
We mean, in short, those types of life that bear signs of death, be they spiritual or moral, the consequences of disordered passions and errors, deprivation or greed, the trivialization and oppression of life.
Beloved brothers and children in the Lord,
We worship once again this year the Holy Passion of our Savior Jesus Christ. We know that the teaching about His death on the cross remains foolishness for those who remain unbelieving and who go the way of destruction. It is, however, the power of God for us who walk in faith the way of salvation (1 Cor 1:18) in the brilliant light of the Resurrection.
In this power and joy of the Resurrection of Christ, we respect the life of our fellow human beings. We call for an end to the killing of one another, and we denounce the violence and fanaticism that threatens life. The victory of the Resurrection must be experienced as a victory of life, of brotherhood, of the future, of hope.
"Christ is Risen, and life reigns.
To Him be glory and dominion unto the ages of ages."
Holy Pascha 2006
+ Bartholomew of Constantinople
your fervent intercessor of all
before Risen Christ
PRESIDENT MUBARAK MET WITH THE ECUMENICAL PATRIARCH AND THE PATRIARCH OF ALEXANDRIA
Cairo, 3 April 2006 (16:26 UTC+2)
Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and Patriarch Theodoros II of Alexandria met in Cairo earlier today with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.
The spirit of religious tolerance dominates in Egypt, commented the Ecumenical Patriarch in the meeting he had with the Egyptian President with whom he discussed the Ecumenical Patriarchate's initiatives on inter-faith dialogue and the protection of the environment. The Ecumenical Patriarch also briefed Mr. Mubarak on the conference to be organized in the Amazon region in Brazil.
Patriarch Theodoros of Alexandria thanked the Egyptian President because Egypt cares about the Patriarchate.
The meeting was held in a very cordial atmosphere.
Walter Altmann, Gennadios of Sassima and Margaretha Hendriks-Ririmasse are, respectively, the new moderator and vice moderators of the WCC central committee.
In a session held late on Thursday, 23 February, immediately after the closing of the 9th Assembly of the World Council of Churches (WCC) in Porto Alegre, Brazil, its newly-elected central committee chose its officers and members of the WCC executive committee.
Rev. Dr Walter Altmann is the president of the Evangelical Church of the Lutheran Confession in Brazil (IECLB). He was the president of the Latin American Council of Churches from 1995-2001. From 1972-1974 he was a parish pastor in southern Brazil, and since 1974, has been teaching systematic theology at the Theological College in S?o Leopoldo. His theological work is focused on Martin Luther, Latin American liberation theology, and ecumenism. From 1981-1987, he headed the Theological College in S?o Leopoldo and was director of the Ecumenical Institute for Postgraduate Studies from 1989-1994.
Metropolitan Dr Gennadios of Sassima (Limouris), of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople (Turkey), is professor of theology in various universities. He was a vice-moderator of the WCC’s Faith and Order Commission from 1998-2006. From 1983-93, he was a staff member of the WCC's Faith and Order secretariat in Geneva. He is involved in a number of bilateral dialogues involving the Orthodox, the Roman Catholic and the Lutheran churches among others. He has been a member of the WCC executive and central committees since 2002. He is the author/editor of numerous publications.
Rev. Dr Margaretha Hendriks-Ririmasse is dean of the Theological Faculty of the Indonesian Christian University in Moluccas, and teaches Old Testament subjects. She serves as vice moderator of her church, the Protestant Church in the Moluccas. Hendriks-Ririmasse helped initiate an interfaith peace and reconciliation initiative in the conflict-ridden Moluccas region of Indonesia. She also served as one of four chairpersons of the Communion of Churches in Indonesia and was the vice-chairperson of the Association of the Theological Schools in Indonesia.
The new WCC executive committee is made up of the following central committee members:
Dr Agnes Abuom, Anglican Church of Kenya
Bishop Ivan Manuel Abrahams, Methodist Church of Southern Africa (South Africa)
Pastor Antonio Pedro Malungo, Evangelical Reformed Church of Angola
Ms Iyabo Oyekola, Church of the Lord Aladura Worldwide (Nigeria)
Rev. Dr Margaretha M. Hendriks-Ririmasse, Protestant Church in the Moluccas (Indonesia)
Ms Hae-Sun Jung, Korean Methodist Church
Bishop Samuel R. Azariah, Church of Pakistan
Ms Nerissa Celestine, Church in the Province of the West Indies (Grenada)
Bischof Dr Rolf Koppe, Evangelical Church in Germany
Ms Inger Aasa-Marklund, Church of Sweden
Mr Graham G. McGeoch, Church of Scotland
Rev. Dr Walter Altmann, Evangelical Church of Lutheran Confession in Brazil
Ms Carmen Rae Lansdowne, United Church of Canada
Rev. Dr Tyrone Pitts, Progressive National Baptist Convention, Inc. (USA)
Rev. Dr Larry Pickens, United Methodist Church (USA)
Rev. Sanele Faasua Lavatai, Methodist Church of Samoa
EASTERN ORTHODOX CHURCHES
Metropolitan Prof. Dr Gennadios of Sassima, Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople
Bishop Dr Hilarion of Wien and Austria (Alfeyev), Russian Orthodox Church
Archbishop Nifon of Targoviste, Romanian Orthodox Church
Bishop Dr Vasilios of Trimithus (Karayiannis), Church of Cyprus
Ms Outi Vasko, Orthodox Church of Finland
ORIENTAL ORTHODOX CHURCHES
Metropolitan Bishoy, Coptic Orthodox Church (Egypt)
Bishop Vicken Aykazian, Armenian Apostolic Church (Holy See of Etchmiadzin) (USA)
The moderators of the programme and finance committees of the central committee, who are also members of the executive committee, will be elected at the first full meeting of the central committee in September 2006.
The Assembly is over and the 691 delegates from the WCC’s 348 member churches and other participants are back in their homes around the world. With them, along with papers and multimedia files, returning participants took memories of an intense period of encounter, prayer, and celebration - in morning and evening worship, 90 Bible study groups, and in the 200 workshops and other events making up the Assembly’s parallel mutirão. On another level, the in-depth work done by the Assembly on themes and issues, structures and relationships is likely to impact the WCC fellowship and the wider ecumenical movement for a long time to come.
Reflections on the theme of the WCC 9th Assembly:
God, in your grace, transform the world
More articles and free photos at www.wcc-assembly.info
Transformation calls for metanoia
By Bartholomew I, Ecumenical Patriarch (*)
What steps must we take to achieve transformation? In this article on the theme of the WCC's 9th Assembly "God, in your grace, transform the world", His All Holiness Bartholomew I addresses this question and reflects on self-discovery, the healing of the community and of the earth.
Transformation as healing of the heart
The Philokalia, a classical anthology of early Christian texts on prayer, underlines the astonishing paradox that transformation is achieved through silence: "When you discover silence in your heart, then you will discern God in the world entire!" In other words, transformation begins with the awareness that God is at the centre of all life. "Be still, and know God." (Psalm 44.1) Through silence, we realize that the grace of God is much closer to us, indeed does more to define who we are, than our own selves! The transformation of the heart is the profound awareness that "the kingdom of God is within" (Luke 17:21).
Inner transformation, however, requires radical change. In religious terminology, it requires metanoia - a change in attitudes and assumptions. We cannot be transformed unless we have first been cleansed of whatever stands in opposition to transformation, until we have understood what disfigures the human heart.
Such a process of self-discovery only results from God's grace, and leads ultimately to a genuine respect of human nature, with all its flaws and failures - both within ourselves and in others. It paves the way for respect towards every human being, irrespective of differences - within society and the global community. Through inner transformation, these differences are welcomed, honoured and embraced as unique pieces of a sacred puzzle; they constitute part of the deeper mystery of God's wonderful creation.
Transformation as healing of community
The transformation of the heart arises in the healing of community. Transformation is a vision of connection and compassion. How unfortunate it is that we Christians often disassociate spirituality from community.
When our hearts are transformed by divine grace, we see the world differently and are impelled to act graciously. Through the transforming grace of God, we are empowered to seek solutions to conflict through open exchange, without resorting to oppression or domination.
Through divine grace, then, we have it in our power either to increase the hurt inflicted in our world, or else to contribute toward its healing. So when will we realize the detrimental effects of violence on our spiritual, social, cultural, and ecological environment? When will we recognize the obvious irrationality of military aggression, national conflict and racial intolerance, all of which betray a lack of imagination and willpower?
Transformation involves awakening from indifference and extending compassion to victims of poverty and all forms of injustice. As faith communities and religious leaders, we must imagine and initiate alternative ways, which reject violence and recognize peace. Our age will be remembered for those who dedicated themselves to the healing and transformation of community; our world will be moulded by those who believe in and "pursue what makes for peace" (Romans 14:19).
This kind of transformation is our only hope of breaking the vicious cycle of violence and injustice - vicious precisely because it is the fruit of vice. War and peace are systems; they stand for contradictory ways of resolving conflict. Ultimately, however, they are choices.
Making peace is a matter of individual and institutional choice, as well as of individual and institutional change. It, too, requires metanoia - a change in policies and practices. Peacemaking requires commitment and courage; it demands of us a willingness to become communities of transformation and to pursue justice as the prerequisite for global transformation.
Transformation as healing of the Earth
Over the last two decades, the Ecumenical Patriarchate has made the preservation of the natural environment a priority of its spiritual and pastoral ministry. The transformation of the heart and of the community is integrally linked with the healing of the earth. The relationship between the soul and its Creator, as well as among human beings, inevitably involves a balanced relationship with the natural world.
The way we treat each other is reflected in the way we treat our planet, just as the way we respond to other people is mirrored in the way we respect the air we breathe, the water we drink and the food we consume. In turn, moreover, our protection of the natural environment reveals the measure of authenticity in our prayer and worship.
For whenever we narrow religious life to our own concerns, we overlook the prophetic calling of the church to implore God and to invoke the divine Spirit for the renewal of the whole polluted cosmos. Indeed, the entire cosmos is the space within which transformation is enacted.
When we are transformed by divine grace, we can properly discern the injustice in which we are active participants and not merely passive observers. When touched by the grace of God, we weep for the "dis-grace" that we have caused by failing to share the resources of our planet.
Therefore, like the transformation of the heart and of the community, ecological awareness also derives from the grace of God and requires a corresponding metanoia - a change in habits and lifestyles.
Paradoxically, we become more conscious of the impact of our actions on other people and on creation when we are prepared to surrender something. For in emptying our heart of our selfish desires, we allow space for the grace of God. Orthodox theology speaks of a kenosis of the Spirit.
This is why the ascetic ethos is a critical aspect of Orthodox Christian spirituality: in learning to give up, we gradually learn to give; in learning to sacrifice, we essentially learn to share. So often our efforts for reconciliation and transformation are hindered by an unwillingness to forego established ways as individuals or as institutions, by our refusal to relinquish either wasteful consumerism or prideful nationalism.
A transformed worldview allows us to perceive the lasting impact of our ways on other people, especially the poor, as the sacred image of Christ, as well as on the environment, as the silent imprint of God.
(*) His All Holiness, Bartholomew I, archbishop of Constantinople, New Rome and ecumenical patriarch, is "first among equals" among the heads of Eastern Orthodox churches, which count an estimated 250 million faithful world-wide. His efforts to connect ecology and spirituality have earned him the title of "Green Patriarch", and he is known for his vigorous promotion of dialogue and reconciliation between the Christian, Islamic and Jewish worlds.
MESSAGE FROM HIS ALL HOLINESS ECUMENICAL PATRIARCH BARTHOLOMEW I TO THE NINTH ASSEMBLY OF THE WCC
Bartholomew, by the grace of God Archbishop of Constantinople, New Rome, and Ecumenical Patriarch,
To the beloved participants of the ninth assembly of the World Council of Churches: grace, mercy and peace from our Triune God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
From the historic throne of Constantinople, we extend cordial wishes to the leadership and the participants of this major inter-ecclesial gathering, marking the beginning of a new era in the history of the ecumenical movement. On the occasion of this auspicious encounter, we greet you with the words of St Paul: “Rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have received reconciliation” (Rom 5:10-12).
We would also like to express our sadness that, in spite of our desire and commitment, we are unable to be with you at this significant ecumenical event, for reasons independent of our will.
An assembly of the WCC is an exceptional event for the entire ecumenical movement, and for the fellowship of churches constituting the WCC in particular. It is a celebration, an experience of togetherness, an opportunity for a genuine encounter, a moment for common prayer to the almighty God. It is an occasion for a sober assessment of the churches’ common journey on their way towards unity. It is an encounter during which delegates from all member churches are called to search for a new vision for the future, and new ways of dialogue, cooperation and interaction. It is an exercise of spiritual discernment in the search for new efforts to redefine and reappropriate our common commitment on the long path of the search for Christian unity.
We particularly welcome the fact that, for the first time, an assembly of the WCC is taking place in Brazil, on the Latin American continent, at the kind and generous invitation of the Christian churches of this country and this region. It is a region marked by deep pain and suffering but known also for hope and joy grounded in the faith of the people.
In the seven-year period since Harare, our churches have experienced significant developments.
The Special Commission on Orthodox Participation in the WCC, established by the eighth assembly, worked hard and raised decisive challenges for our participation in the life of the WCC. For the first time in the history of the WCC, fundamental questions raised by the Orthodox churches were also shared by other member-churches. Prayer, ecclesiology, membership, ethical and moral issues, as well as new ways of decision-making were proposed for further reflection and discussion. The Special Commission has presented its report. We have noted with satisfaction the positive reception of this report, particularly by our sister Orthodox churches. We now have to continue our work together for the implementation of its decisions with realism and responsibility, for the benefit of the fellowship of our churches.
The Decade to Overcome Violence was also launched by the eighth assembly. Member-churches and ecumenical partners were invited to work unceasingly for reconciliation and peace, and for the elimination of all forms of violence, since violence constitutes an offence against God, humanity and creation. At the mid-point of the decade, we realize that a great deal still has to be done, both by the WCC and each one of the member-churches.
The need to look afresh at our vision and expectations of the ecumenical movement in the 21st century has become urgent since Harare, and has led to the process of reconfiguration, and a search for realignment of the ecumenical organizations at the service of the imperative of the gospel and human needs. We are following the process with interest and we will gladly contribute to it.
Indeed, in a world where there is still much division, fragmentation, human suffering, poverty, fear of war, injustice and violation of human rights, and where socio-political and economic crises are faced daily, we have high expectations from the ecumenical movement, and particularly from this ninth assembly of the WCC.
The Ecumenical Patriarchate is committed to the WCC and the ecumenical movement as a whole. It will continue to offer its witness and to share the richness of its theological and ecclesial tradition in the search for unity among Christian churches, in all efforts towards reconciliation and peace, in all attempts to serve the manifold human needs, and in the protection of creation which is a gift of God entrusted to humanity.
It is our fervent prayer that the Holy Spirit will guide the deliberations at the assembly and will bestow on all participants in this gathering wisdom, discernment and courage.
“May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all” (2 Cor 13:14).
At the Ecumenical Patriarchate, Phanar, 2nd of February 2006
Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord to the Temple
Your fervent supplicant before God,
Archbishop of Constantinople and Ecumenical Patriarch
Greeting of His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew to the Delegation of the church of Rome on the feast day of the Throne of the Ecumenical Patriarchate (30/11/2005)
Your Eminence and Beloved Brother in Christ, Walter Cardinal Kasper, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, and Honorable Members of the Delegation of the Sister Church of Rome,
Honorable Archon Grand Deputy and Archons of the Great Church of Christ,
Beloved Brothers and Children in the Lord,
Celebrating today the blessed memory of St. Andrew, the First-called Apostle, the founder of our Church, we first express our admiration and joy because it is through His prayers and blessings that our Church grew and was glorified, was persecuted and survived, and still lives and exists to this very day. The little leaven of the first few believers, through the uncreated energy of the Holy Spirit, leavened such a multitude of persons and peoples, and cultivated to a great spiritual depth and width the ferment of the Most Holy Church of Constantinople, so that she was be able to carry on her shoulders the great responsibility in matters of the church that have been commissioned to her through the decisions of the Ecumenical Synods.
We then would like to express our gratitude to God for the fact that He makes us worthy of ministering this Church that has been persecuted for centuries and undergone many trials and tribulations. However, she has also proven true the words of God to Apostle Paul "my strength is made perfect in weakness" (2Cor 12:9).
In such a joyful state of wonder, gladness and gratitude we feel deeply your brotherly love, Your Excellency Cardinal Kasper, as well as the love of our very beloved brother His Holiness, Pope of Rome Benedict XVI, who has sent this official Delegation, and we would like to thank all of you wholeheartedly for coming here today to celebrate with us...
Papal Message to Bartholomew I on Feast of St. Andrew
To His Holiness Bartholomew I
Archbishop of Constantinople
"The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you!
My love to all of you in Christ Jesus" (1 Cor 16:23-24).
It is with great joy that I write to Your Holiness on the occasion of the Feast of Saint Andrew, apostle and brother of Saint Peter.
The delegation which I send to you, led by the President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, His Eminence Cardinal Walter Kasper, brings you the warmest fraternal greetings of the Church of Rome. While I myself would have wished to be present to assure you personally of my affection for you in the Lord and to pray with you, I nevertheless convey my fervent hope for an even deeper communion which will overcome those obstacles remaining between us and enable us to celebrate together the Holy Eucharist, the one sacrifice of Christ for the life of the world.
This year we commemorate the Fortieth Anniversary of 7 December 1965, that day on which Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras, dissatisfied with what had occurred in 1054, decided together at Rome and Constantinople "to cancel from the Church’s memory the sentence of ex-communication which had been pronounced". That momentous event became the basis of a renewed relationship marked by reciprocal respect and reconciliation. We remember with joy the inspiring words pronounced that day in the Cathedral of the Phanar by the beloved Patriarch Athenagoras : "God is Love (1 Jn 4:9): love is the God-given mark of the disciples of Christ, the power which gathers in unity the Church, and the source of its peace, harmony and order, as a perpetual and brilliant manifestation of the indwelling Holy Spirit" (Response to The Common Declaration, 7 December 1965)...
Climate change a symptom of spiritual disorder says patriarch
By David Fines
Montreal, Canada, 28 November (ENI)-- One of the world's top spiritual leaders has issued a warning about climate change as representatives from more than 180 nations gather for a United Nations' conference in Montreal on global warming.
"Climate change is more than an issue of environmental preservation," said Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomeos I who is seen by many as the spiritual leader of the world's Orthodox Christians. "Insofar as human induced, it is a profoundly moral and spiritual problem."
The Montreal meeting is the first UN gathering since the coming into force in February of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol which sets international standards for reducing atmospheric gases that many scientists believe cause global warming. The meeting aims to chart future action on climate change when the first phase of the protocol comes to an end in 2012.
"Unless we take radical and immediate measures to reduce emissions stemming from unsustainable - in fact unjustifiable, if not simply unjust - excesses in the demands of our lifestyle, the impact will be both alarming and imminent," the patriarch said.
The United States has not ratified the treaty and US President George Bush has expressed scepticism about scientific findings on climate change.
"Although the data regarding climate change is sometimes debated, the seriousness of the situation is generally accepted," noted Patriarch Bartholomeos in a statement released by the Geneva-based World Council of Churches, which is leading a 80-strong delegation in Montreal.
Bartholomeos added, "To persist in the current path of ecological destruction is not only folly. It is no less than suicidal, jeopardising the diversity of the very earth that we inhabit, enjoy and share."
The patriarch said faith communities were well-placed to take a long-term view of the world as God's creation while he also noted the need for them "to put their own houses in order" and for their adherents to embrace the urgency of the issue.
WCC climate change coordinator David Hallman said: "Daily events remind us of the undeniable seriousness of climate change caused by greenhouse gases." He was speaking before an interfaith service planned to take place in Montreal on 4 December. "The oil crisis, recurring devastating hurricanes, rising temperatures, the gradual disappearance of the polar ice caps, rising sea levels and global warming affect us all, believers and non-believers alike." [395 words]
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Comments on new Jerusalem Patriarch enthronement ceremony
28 Nov 2005 13:38:00
Religious studies teacher and education coordinator of North Africa and M.E states, Andreas Karatzas commented on the enthronement ceremony of new Jerusalem Patriarch, as guest of the ERA5 program “Network Without Borders”.
He described it as a plain and short ceremony, which, however, radiated the grandeur of the event. The prospect Patriarch walked into the Church of the Resurrection and bowed before the Holy Sepulcher, next entered into the sanctum and came out dressed in the Patriarchal vest. The procedure concluded when the two head priests accompanied him to ascend to the Patriarchal throne from where he delivered the traditional Patriarchal speech.
The Patriarch’s speech was simple and clear, underlining that he will concentrate on the elevation of the Jerusalem Patriarchate after the recent crisis. His Beatitude, the Patriarch is a sober and simple person with a strong willingness to work hard while his biggest advantage is his clear-sightedness.
Thousands of Orthodox Christians crowded Jerusalem as well as religious and state leaders to attend the enthronement ceremony.
Concluding, A. Karatzas underlined that it is worth visiting Jerusalem which is completely different from how it is described in documentaries. The castle city emits a special mystagogy and its whole atmosphere travels one back to the past.
www.ert.gr, Diaspora News
Patriarch’s ire at Israeli snub
JERUSALEM (AP) - The new Greek Orthodox patriarch of the Holy Land says Israel is not recognizing him in an effort to extort his support for the controversial lease of Church land to Jewish groups in east Jerusalem, a church official said yesterday.
Patriarch Theophilos III has sued Israel to recognize his authority and will not approve the land deal, signed during his predecessor’s tenure, the official said. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to the press.
The long-term leases enraged the Church’s predominantly Palestinian flock because they strengthened the Jewish presence in east Jerusalem, which Palestinians claim as capital of a future state.
Church tradition requires Israel, the Palestinians and Jordan to approve a new patriarch. Israel, which wants Theophilos to back the leases, has not approved his appointment.
The previous patriarch, Irenaios, was ousted in May amid allegations he leased the land to Jewish groups for 198 years.
The patriarch told Haaretz that he discussed the status of the land with the Israeli minister overseeing Jerusalem affairs, Tzahi Hanegbi, but the two had not reached agreement.
Israeli officials couldn’t immediately be reached for comment on Theophilos’s accusation. Property dealings are highly sensitive to the Greek Orthodox Church, which is one of the major land owners in Israel and the Palestinian territories, and thus has influence far beyond its 40,000-member flock. Among the Church’s high-profile holdings are historic buildings in the Old City, prime real estate in Jerusalem and the site of some Israeli government buildings.
After the leases in east Jerusalem were publicized earlier this year, pressure mounted for Irenaios to cancel them or resign.
Pope and Orthodox Patriarch Express Words of Unity
Benedict XVI Sends Message to Bartholomew I in Bologna
BOLOGNA, Italy, NOV. 21, 2005 (Zenit.org).- In a message to the Orthodox patriarch of Constantinople, Benedict XVI renewed his intention to continue on the path of Christian unity.
The message to Patriarch Bartholomew I also stated that the Pope hoped to travel soon to Istanbul, Turkey, headquarters of the Orthodox patriarchate.
The papal message was read by Cardinal Roger Etchegaray, retired president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, during the Byzantine-rite vespers he presided over Saturday in the Basilica of St. Petronius in Bologna. On hand was Archbishop Carlo Caffarra of Bologna.
Patriarch Bartholomew I, the "first among equals" of the Orthodox Church, traveled to Italy at the invitation of the University of Bologna, to receive an honorary doctorate for "Conservation of Cultural Goods." The honor was conferred on him Saturday.
Benedict XVI in his message congratulated the patriarch for this "opportune" recognition of "Your Holiness' action to promote the growth in public opinion of the understanding of the values proper of creation, work of God, manifestation of his freedom, wisdom and love."
The Pope invited the Orthodox patriarch "to intensify all efforts to journey toward the full unity of all the disciples of Christ."
In his message, the Roman Pontiff expressed his "joyful" hope to "meet personally, when God wills," with the ecumenical patriarch in his See of Constantinople.
Bartholomew I, with jurisdiction over some 200 million faithful worldwide, invited the Pope to visit Istanbul at the beginning of his pontificate. The Turkish government echoed this invitation; the visit is expected to take place next year.
Source of hope
In the message read by Cardinal Etchegaray, the Pope renewed his commitment to dedicate himself "to the holy cause of promoting Christian unity, which Your Holiness bears so profoundly in his heart."
In the homily delivered during vespers, Bartholomew I expressed "the desire to meet soon personally" with the Pope.
The patriarch of Constantinople referred to the "permanent division" between Orthodox and Catholics as "a motive of great sorrow for our heart as Christians," but at the same time he said that it is a "source of great hope to see that so many steps are being taken, above all through knowledge, friendship and reciprocal collaboration."
In particular, he stressed the need of Catholics and Orthodox to give common testimony of the Gospel before a "modern society which increasingly moves away from the theocentric vision of life, denying in fact our divine origin and the object of our existence, which is found in Jesus, the risen God-Man."
Pope Benedict XVI conveys invitation to Archbishop Christodoulos to visit the Vatican
Pope Benedict XVI, through Cardinal Turan, director of the Vatican's Library, has extended an invitation to Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos to visit the Vatican.
The invitation was conveyed by the cardinal during an event, Wednesday, at the Byzantine Museum for the presentation of a Byzantine book. The book was published by the Church of Greece in cooperation with the Vatican Library and the Spanish Publishing House Testimonio.
The cardinal read the letter sent to Archbiship Christodoulos by the Pope which noted that "a new step has been achieved on the road to reconciliation and cooperation."
On departure, from the event, Archbishop Christodoulos told reporters that "an official invitation" would be extended.
Bologna University to honour Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos
ROME (ANA/L. Hatzikiriakos)
Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos will be in Bologna on Friday to be honoured by the city's university.
Bologna University, which is the oldest in Italy, has proclaimed Vartholomeos honourary professor "for the sensitivity he has shown in his struggles for the protection of the environment".
The official ceremony will take place on Saturday in Ravenna, at the Church of San Vitale.
On Friday, he will give a lecture on the theme "The environment and its problems".
On Sunday, Vartholomeos will officiate at Bologna's Aghios Dimitrios Church and return to Istanbul in the afternoon.
Ecumenical Patriarch calls for equal treatment of Christians in Moslem countries
VIENNA (ANA/D. Dimitrakoudis)
Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos, addressing the three-day International Interreligious Conference here on Wednesday, called for the equal treatment of Christians in countries whose majority of the population are Moslems.
International personalities, including the presidents of Iraq and Afghanistan and the former Iranian president, participated in the conference, as well as leading Church and international organisation representatives.
The Patriarch said that the state of Christians in some Moslem countries is not safe and considerable steps are necessary to improve it. He further said that the differences between Moslems and Christians have their roots in politics and not in faith.
"Religion has repeatedly become the product of political exploitation in history for the creation of hostilities and the fuelling of fanaticism between people," he said.
The Ecumenical Patriarch stressed the great significance of dialogue between cultures and religions as the only means for peaceful coexistence among peoples, despite the difference in their faith.
He also thanked the Austrian government for its initiative in preparing and organising the conference in Vienna under the title of "Islam in a pluralistic world", ahead of the Austrian European Union Presidency in the first half of 2006.
Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos holds talks with Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel
VIENNA (ANA/D. Dimitrakoudis)
Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos expressed his conviction on Tuesday that during its European Union presidency, in the first half of 2006, Austria will have the opportunity of "working, as much as it can, for the consolidation and prevalence of religious freedoms and human rights in general."
Vartholomeos was speaking after holding talks with Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel in the Austrian capital.
The Ecumenical Patriarch said in a statement to the Athens News Agency (ANA) that he had the opportunity of discussing issues of mutual interest with the Chancellor, also in light of the Austrian EU presidency, and ascertained the "existence of a profuse and general desire for promoting and supporting religious freedoms and human rights in general".
Vartholomeos added that he had made the same ascertainment during talks he had at the Fanar a few weeks ago with Austrian Parliament President Andreas Kohl.
The Ecumenical Patriarch arrived in Vienna on Monday at the invitation of Chancellor Schuessel to participate in the tripartite international inter-religious conference titled "Islam in a pluralistic world."
Bulgarian minister visits Mount Athos
Bulgarian Health Minister Radoslav Gaidarski is carrying out a visit to the all-male monastic community on Mount Athos on Tuesday, in order to attend celebrations for Saint George at the Holy Monastery of Zografou, where there are a number of Bulgarian monks.
Gaidarski visited Karyes, the administrative capital of the semi-autonomous religious community, on Tuesday morning.
ANA Daily News Bulletin, 16.11.2005
Int'l conference on Islam opens in Vienna, Ecumenical Patriarch attends
VIENNA (ANA/D. Dimitrakoudis)
Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos arrived in the Austrian capital on Monday to attend the three-day conference "Islam in a Pluralistic World," that will take place November 14-16.
Austrian Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik inaugurated the conference, held at Hofburg Palace, on Monday evening. According to Plassnik, the aim of the conference is to "foster mutual understanding, dialogue and cooperation between cultures and religions."
Vartholomeos, who was officially invited by Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schussel, will be addressing the conference on Wednesday and will also be meeting with various government officials, including Schussel, Plassnik and Austrian President Heinz Fischer, among others during his stay in Vienna.
These meetings, as well as the fact that Vartholomeos was invited by the Austrian Chancellor, underscore the respect the Austrian government has for the Ecumenical Patriarch and the institution of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, Metropolitan of Austria and Exarch of Hungary and Central Europe Michael told the ANA.
Michael noted that as the leader of Orthodox Christians based in a Muslim environment, Vartholomeos' presence at this conference took on additional significance. Vartholomeos' presence at the conference also underlines the patriarchate's concerns regarding the rights of Christians and Greeks living in Istanbul and in Turkey in general, Michael said.
Michael added that Vartholomeos' visit to Austria was both a joy and honour for the Church of Austria.
Other conference attendees include Jalal Talabani, President of Iraq; Hamid Karzai, President of Afghanistan; and Mohammad Khatami former President of Iran.
Ecumenical Patriarch invited to address Council of Europe
ISTANBUL (ANA - A. Kourkoulas)
Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew has been invited to address the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) by its president, René Van der Linden, during a visit to the Patriarchate in Fanar, Istanbul on Monday.
After his meeting with the Patriarch, van der Linden expressed hope that "we will proceed together for Turkey's accession to the European Union", while stressing that Turkey's course toward Europe must "guarantee freedom of religion".
Regarding the operation of the Theological School of Chalki, PACE's president noted that Turkey must ensure the freedom to train clerics in its own schools, as in all European countries.
Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos to attend inter-religious conference in Vienna on 'Islam in a pluralistic world'
VIENNA (ANA/D. Dimitrakoudis)
Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos will visit Vienna from November 14-18 where he will take part, as official guest of Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel, at the International Inter-Religious Conference on the theme "Islam in a pluralistic world", which will be held in the Austrian capital from Monday to Wednesday.
During his visit, Patriarch Vartholomeos will meet with Austrian President Heinz Fischer, Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel, Austrian Parliament President Andreas Khol and Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik, while he will speak at the Inter-Religious Conference on Wednesday morning.
Second 'Peace and Tolerance' inter-faith conference opens in Istanbul
ISTANBUL (ANA - A. Kourkoulas)
Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I declared the start of the second "Peace and Tolerance" inter-faith conference in Istanbul on Tuesday, attended by religious leaders from all over the world.
Among those present were Rabbi Arthur Schneier from New York, Turkey's Chief Rabbi Isac Haleva, Moslem religious leaders from the Caucausus, Azerbaijan and the Balkans and Orthodox Church leaders like Archbishop Anastasios of Albania and Alexandria Patriarch Theodoros. A message from Pope Benedict XVI was read out by Cardinal Walter Kasper, while U.S. charge d'affaires Nancy McEldowney read a message from U.S. President George Bush.
The conference was also attended by Greek Education and Religious Affairs Minister Marietta Yiannakou, who stressed its importance in an age when dire predictions of a "clash of civilisations" were in danger of being confirmed. "The work that the Patriarchate is doing in collaboration with moderate Moslems, the Vatican and all other religious creeds, even with the Dalai Lama, takes on immense political importance," she said.
The first 'Peace and Tolerance' conference was held in 1994 and was again an initiative organised by the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Istanbul. It had ended with the Bosporus Declaration that had underlined the obligation of political and religious leaders to "use all means to cultivate and promote dialogue between peoples and nationals of all religions in order to build up mutual trust, love and respect".
UNESCO's Matsuura applauds Ecumenical Patriarch's efforts for inter-religious dialogue
UNESCO Director General Koichiro Matsuura praised Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos' initiative to hold a conference aimed at promoting dialogue among religious groups.
The two-day conference, titled "Peace and Tolerance," began in Istanbul on Monday and aims to promote dialogue and understanding among the peoples of southeastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia.
In his written massage, Matsuura expressed UNESCO's full support for any effort aimed at encouraging dialogue among religious groups and hails the current and previous initiatives of Vartholomeos.
Matsuura also stated that dialogue among religious groups will consitute one of UNESCO's top priorities in coming years and expressed the hope to cooperate with the representatives of those countries participating at the two-day conference in Istanbul.
According to Matsuura, extra care is needed in these countries due to regional tensions and an overall delicate situation. To this end, Matsuura said that UNESCO is planning a series of events.
On November 30, the organisation will be holding a seminar regarding a dialogue between France and Turkey, while in the beginning of 2006 UNESCO will be putting together educational material regarding inter-cultural and inter-religious dialogue, that will be sent to Caucasus and Central Asia.
Bartholomew addresses the “Hellenic Observatory” in London
05 Nov 2005 10:21:00
“The Ecumenical Patriarchate can play an important role in a constantly changing Europe and become the bridge connecting Europe with Islam” stressed Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew in his speech delivered at the “Hellenic Observatory” of the London School of Economics two days ago.
The title of his lecture was The Role of Religion in a Changing Europe.
“Established in a mainly Muslim city, the Patriarchate of the Christian Orthodox meets all the criteria to assume the role of a bridge connecting Europe with Islam. At the same time, the great support the Ecumenical Patriarchate offers to Turkey’s European course is related to our conviction that Europe will benefit by incorporating in its family a fundamentally Muslim country, provided of course that Turkey wishes to adopt the European principles, such as respect of religious freedom and minority rights” stresses the Ecumenical Patriarch.
In his lecture the Ecumenical Patriarch spoke about the relations between the Church and the state and analyzed them.
Using Emperor Justinian’s political philosophy on this issue he said “Harmonious and active cooperation between the state and the Church with transparent roles of course; the state should exercise its political authority and the Church is religious authority”.
Commenting on the proposed European Constitution plan, he said that despite the religious movements and religious leaders’ protests, no specific reference has been made to Christianity’s fundamental contribution to the creation of European legacy.
www.ert.gr, Diaspora News 5.11.2005
Ecumenical Patriarchate to host 'Peace and Religious Tolerance' conference from November 7-9
ANA Daily News Bulletin, 4.11.05
ISTANBUL (ANA/A. Kourkoulas)
An inter-religious conference on the theme "Peace and Religious Tolerance" will be organised in Istanbul next week by the Ecumenical Patriarchate in cooperation with European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso.
An announcement issued at the Phanar on Thursday said that Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos on November 7 will declare the start of the sessions of the conference, at which taking part will be high ranking representatives of Judaism, Christianity and Islam from many countries.
The conference will last until November 9.
The first inter-religious conference "Peace and Religious Tolerance" was again held at the initiative of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Istanbul in 1994.
Bartholomew meets with "Economist" President
04 Nov 2005 09:40:00
www.ert.gr, Diaspora News
Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew was received by Helen Alexander, Chief Executive Officer of The Economist Group and Economist magazine Director Bill Emot at the headquarters of the historic magazine in London yesterday.
The publishing leadership of the Economist had an extensive exchange of views with the Patriarch on issues related to the position of the Ecumenical Patriarchate today, Turkey’s course to the European Union, the relations among the Orthodox Churches and the relations between the Orthodox Christians with the Vatican, following the election of Pope Benedict 16th.
Addressing the Economist leadership, Mr Bartholomew reminded the Media’s moral obligation to the public. “You have the privilege to brief and at the same time have the opportunity to shape human conscience” said Patriarch Bartholomew. “In this era we can use or abuse a piece of information”, stressing that “information can shape or
erode human conscience”.
The Patriarch offered the Economist leadership an icon depicting Abraham’s hospitality painted at Mount Athos.
The representatives of the magazine thanked the Ecumenical Patriarch for his visit, describing it as “a special occasion” within the framework of many visits to the magazine by celebrities.
Archbishop of Thyateira Grigorios and Metropolitan of Pergamos Ioannis accompanied the Ecumenical Patriarch in the meeting in which present were the magazine editors.
Finally, Mr Bartholomew gave a lecture at the Hellenic Observatory of the London School of Economics on the issue “The Role of Religion in a Changing Europe”. The event was organized by the Hellenic Observatory and the London Hellenic Society.
Education minister says Centre of Byzantine Studiies will be founded in Mystras
Education and Relgious Affairs Minister of Greece Marietta Yiannakou announced on Monday from Sparta where she attended the ceremony of the official start of the academic year, that a Centre of Byzantine Studies will be founded in Mystras, which will operate within the framework of the Peloponnese University.
The minister stressed that the centre will operate as a Centre of Post-Graduate Studies, which will cover all the spectrum of Byzantine Culture, that is, archaeology, history, philology.
It will also function as a centre for international conferences on the Byzatium.
ANA Daily News Bulletin, 11.10.2005
Turkey strikes positive note on reopening Orthodox school
The issue of the reopening of the Orthodox seminary on Halki, off Istanbul, “will be resolved within the framework of the constitution and the law,” Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul said yesterday after Turkey’s Justice Minister Huseyin Celik remarked that “it is wrong for (the seminary) to stay closed.” Greece’s government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos was cool in his response, noting that reopening the seminary “is Turkey’s obligation, as set out in the road map (for eventual EU accession).”
THE GREEK PARLIAMENT PRESIDENT MET WITH THE PATRIARCH OF ROMANIA
Bucharest, 6 October 2005 (17:59 UTC+2)
Greek Parliament President Anna Benaki-Psarouda met with Patriarch Theoktistos of Romania in Bucharest today.
The Greek Parliament President referred to Romania's European course pointing out that the country's accession into the EU will be an important development.
Patriarch Theoktistos thanked Mrs. Benaki for Greece's support to the efforts made by Romania to become an EU member and stressed that the Christian Orthodox Church of Romania must preserve its identity while, at the same time, be open to the European values that are in line with the principles and values of the Gospel.
www.mpa.gr, FRIDAY, 7 OCTOBER 2005
The Speaker of the Austrian Parliament visits the Ecumenical Patriarchate
The Speaker of the Austrian Parliament Andreas Khol made the following statements in Constantinople yesterday: “I am waiting for the moment when all Christian communities in the E.U. will have the same rights and freedoms and enjoy life the same”.
Mr Khol, who had earlier met with the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew in Phanar, added that “for this reason the Patriarch has been invited by the Austrian Premier in Vienna and I am glad because I will have the opportunity to meet him there again”.
The Austrian politician thanked the Ecumenical Patriarch for receiving him, adding “I am particularly happy because the Patriarch told us that there are positive developments in the discussions with the Roman Catholic Church”.
The Speaker of the Austrian Parliament is the first E.U. official visiting Turkey after the “historic” moment for all of the beginning of Turkey’s accession negotiations with the E.U.
The Austrian politician lit a candle at Saint George church before meeting with the Patriarch.
Mr Khol, who is particularly interested in church issues and has studied Canon Law, is very interested in the relations between Orthodox and Catholic Christians. He describes himself as “a Christian Orthodox of the West and Christian Catholic of the East”.
Patriarch Bartholomew expressed “great joy and satisfaction for Mr Khol’s visit”, stressing that he considers his invitation to visit Vienna and speak at the conference organized by the Austrian government by the name ‘Islam in a transforming multicultural world’ an important initiative. It is important that the Austrian government has decided to invite a Christian Church official to speak about his experience in relation to Islam”.
Austria will resume the E.U. rotating Presidency as of January 1 and the Vienna conference is taking place within the framework of preparations of the Austrian Presidency.
www.ert.gr, Diaspora News, 06 Oct 2005 10:02:00
Jordans and Palestinians Recognised Theofilos
Enthronement in Jerusalem
According to NET radio station sources, Patriarch Theofilos of Jerusalem is to be enthroned on November14. The programme of the ceremony is to be announced either on Tuesday or Wednesday, since both Jordan and the Palestinian Authority recognised Theofilos. In particular, last week, the Patriarch travelled to Jordan, where he met with the country’s Premier, while three days ago, a special Palestinian committee issued a recognition degree. The only country that has yet to clarify its stance on the issue is Israel, however, the Patriarch’s affiliates noted that Israel will proceed with the recognition by early November.
www.ert.gr, 04 Oct 2005 13:03:00
Sources: NET 105.8
Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos chairs Permanent Holy Synod session
Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos chaired a session of the Permanent Holy Synod on Tuesday, while the Hierarchy's Holy Synod is due to convene on Wednesday.
Archbishop Christodoulos briefed, among other issues, the members of the Permanent Holy Synod on the recent visit to Greece by Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos.
It was also decided during the session that the Synod will honour the coach of the Greek national basketball team Panayiotis Yiannakis with the decoration of the Church of Greece, the Gold Cross of the Apostle Paul, for the team's successes (it recently won the European basketball championship held in Serbia-Montenegro), as well as "for the seriousness, modesty and piety of his character".
The Synod will also honour all the members of the team winning the European championship with a special gift.
ANA Daily News Bulletin, 5.10.2005
Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew met with EC President Barroso
BRUSSELS (Juli 12, 2005) - His All-Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew met on Tuesday July 12th 2005 with European Commission President José Manuel Durao Barroso and European Commissioner for enlargement Olli Rehn. In his meetings with EU officials, the Patriarch discussed issues concerning the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the orthodox minority in Turkey, as well as issues that have been included in the process of Turkey’s adoption to the European acquis.
At this occasion the EPP-ED Members of the European Parliament, Elmar BROK (Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee), Camiel EURLINGS (rapporteur on Turkey) and Antonios TRAKATELLIS (Vice-President of the European Parliament) commonly declare : “Further to the exchange of views with the Chief Negotiator A. BABACAN in the Foreign Affairs Committee and to the meeting with Patriarch Bartholomew this week, there is evidence that the religious freedom is not fully ensured in Turkey and the current draft law on religious foundations falls short of European standards. We appeal therefore to the Turkish authorities to amend this draft law in a way that all religious communities established in Turkey can enjoy similar rights as they do in EU Member States. We are in particular deeply concerned about the ongoing process of seizing and selling properties owned by religious communities. We therefore ask the Turkish authorities to put an immediate end to this process. Further seizing and selling of property would highly damage Turkey's image and affects its commitments in seeking convergence with European values. We have repeatedly asked in our previous resolutions for the reopening of the Halki seminary. To our regret, the long awaited promise of the Turkish authorities to actually do so has not been fulfilled yet. We therefore also ask the Turkish authorities to use the time left, before the opening of negotiations on accession, to make a significant gesture of good will, which would be appreciated by the religious European community. We will recommend to the European Council, which is meeting on 18 July, that this issue of religious freedom and equality is given the appropriate emphasis in the framework of EU-Turkey negotiations which is due to be adopted".
Orthobel - Pressoffice Orthodox Church in Belgium <email@example.com>
José Manuel Barroso meets European religious leaders
Today José Manuel Barroso will be meeting over 15 European religious leaders (see attached list) as part of the ongoing dialogue between the European Commission, religions and churches. Coming as it does five days after the attacks in London, this meeting with representatives of the Christian, Jewish and Muslim faiths confirms the need for Europe to unite in the cause of peace, to combat terrorism and to eliminate its causes.
"More than ever Europe must show that it is united in its religious diversity to reject and condemn terrorism on its soil", declared Mr Barroso before welcoming his guests from different religious traditions. He went on to say, " This approach must go hand in hand with the efforts of the developed world to combat poverty and create a fairer world. We took another important step towards achieving that goal last week at Gleneagles. Europe must continue on this course. Spiritual movements have an important role to play in helping us to keep this at the forefront of our minds."
Today's meeting is one of a series of regular talks between the President of the European Commission and a variety of partners from religious, spiritual and humanist circles.
In addition to terrorism, added to the agenda by recent tragic events, the President is planning to discuss with his guests the outlook for European integration, particularly in the light of the challenges posed by the process of ratifying the draft European Constitution.
"If we have learned one thing in recent weeks, it is the need for Europe to take action through practical measures with which the public can identify", Mr Barroso said in response to the positive and encouraging result of Sunday's vote in Luxembourg. A period of reflection and discussion was needed to restore the ties between Europe and its citizens and " the religious communities could, like the European Commission, make a major contribution to this dialogue ".
As the guardian of the common interest, the Commission has taken upon itself the task of responding to the legitimate concerns that people have regarding important questions such as Europe's borders, the European social model, and the type of growth and protection they wish to enjoy. The Commission does not intend to conduct this discussion alone but in partnership with each Member State and in close liaison with the representatives of social movements and spiritual and religious communities.
South Korean president seeks Orthodox patriarch's help to improve relations with North
South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun on Friday asked the visiting head of the Orthodox church for help in improving relations with the communist North.
Roh said in a meeting at the presidential Blue House with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, considered "first among equals" of the world's Orthodox patriarchs, that he hopes for active involvement of Orthodox Churches in both Koreas to help warm relations, according to a statement from Roh's office.
The patriarch said he highly values the religious freedom in South Korea, according to a pool report from the president's office.
Bartholomew arrived Wednesday for a weeklong trip, the Istanbul-based patriarch's third visit to South Korea. He is meeting various South Korean officials and ambassadors, and will also oversee the construction of an Orthodox Church welfare center.
South Korea has a modest group of Orthodox believers with seven churches and 3,000 followers. The South Korean Orthodox Church this year celebrates the 50th anniversary of incorporation with Constantinople.Friday June 24, 2:35 PM
AP (Yahoo Asia News)
His All Holiness in Korea from 21st June through 27th June 2005
On the occasion of 50 years (1955~2005)of Pastoralship under the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the Orthodox Metropolis of Korea has organized various festivities at which His All Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew will preside. This Visit of H.A.H. to Korea will be His Third Time since 1995.
The construction of the first Hellenic Orthodox church in Jebel Ali, Dubai, the United Arab Emirates will begin at the end of 2005.
The church, which will be dedicated to Virgin Mary, will be built in a building site granted by crowned prince and UAE Defence Minister Rashid Al Maktum. The construction expenses will be covered by the donations of the Hellenic Community in the UAE.
According to the representatives of the church, the complex design of the building does not allow for the completion of the church before 2007.
Until today, the Christian Orthodox population of the area for their prayers visited churches that belonged to other religions.
The President of the Ecclesiastical Committee John Thodori stated that the members of the Hellenic Orthodox Church express their gratitude to the Arab minister for granting 1,800,000 square metres of land that will host the church.
"Surely we are very satisfied that we shall have our own church, where we shall conduct our sacraments that differ from those of other churches".
"We have been using the Holy Trinity Church in Dubai for 20 years now and we cannot use this church exclusively, since other religious groups use it as well".
The President of the Ecclesiastical Committee pointed out that the Orthodox Hellenes used to gather at the Hellenic Orthodox Church in Iraq and at rented villa in Kuwait. The Virgin Mary Church will be the first Hellenic Orthodox Church in the Gulf that will be built "in the correct way" he said.
As Mr Thedori stated, when the church is completed believers from Russia, Syria, Hellas, the Ukraine and Cyprus will be able visit it regularly for their prayers. The Mass will be conducted in the Hellenic and Arabic language.
He also said that construction work may begin October and be concluded in a year and a half.
"After the construction of the church, which will be of Byzantine style, we shall have it decorated".
Now, more than 600 Christians go to church to pray and more than 2,000 believers gather during great Christian feasts.
For His Name Day
Warm Wishes to Ecumenical Patriarch
Ert.gr, 11 Jun 2005 18:09:00
Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew celebrated his name day on Saturday with the presence of important people from around the world. In the morning he officiated a prelatic Mass in the Church of Saint George in Phanar alongside Archbishops Christodoulos of Athens, Dimitrios of America and Gerason of Theofani, Metropolitan Bishop Kallinikos of Khartoum and metropolitan bishops of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Panagiotis Skandalakis represented the Greek government. Speeches followed after the Mass to praise the Ecumenical Patriarch by the Archbishop of Athens, representatives from the Patriarchates of Alexandria and Jerusalem, as well as by Mr Skandalakis.
"Patriarchate's Steering Role Accepted"
"The steering role of the Ecumenical Patriarchate is widely known and accepted," stressed Christodoulos, referring to the role of the Ecumenical Patriarchate for the preservation of unity and peace among Orthodox Churches.
As for Mr Skandalakis, he voiced the satisfaction of the Greek government for the presence of the Archbishop of Athens in Phanar, while he stressed that for Greece "the Ecumenical Patriarchate's breath is everyone's breath."
Answering salutations, Bartholomew stressed that the Ecumenical Patriarchate resists any "fundamentalist intolerance," while he expressed his content for the presence of Christodoulos and Mr Skandalakis.
Ecumenical Patriarch celebrates nameday with call against 'fundamentalist bigotry'
ISTANBUL (ANA - A. Kourkoulas)
In a message to mark is name day on Saturday, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I stressed that the Ecumenical Patriarcha-te resisted all "fundamentalist bigotry".
He was replying to earlier speeches made by Archbishop Christodoulos of Athens and All Greece, the head of the Greek Orthodox Church, representatives of the Alexandria and Jerusalem Patriarchates and Greek Deputy Foreign Minister Panagiotis Skandalakis, who were in Fanar for the Patriarch's nameday celebrations.
Archbishop Christodoulos, in his own speech, had referred to the important role played by the Ecumenical Patriarchate in coordinating and preserving unity and peace among Orthodox Churches, saying this coordinating role was "accepted by all".
According to Skandalakis, "the breath of the Ecumenical Patriarchate is the breath of all", stressing the Greek government's pleasure that Archbishop Christodoulos was in Fanar.
Also present at the celebrations was the Archbishop of America Demetrios.