Ecumenical Inauguration of the Aedicule of the Holy Sepulchre

The Aedicule of the Holy Sepulchre was solemnly inaugurated on 22 March 2017 after a year of restoration by an ecumenical ceremony attended by representatives of the Orthodox,  Armenian and Roman Catholic Churches. It was presided by the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, in the presence of Patriarch Theophilos III of Jerusalem, the Armenian Apostolic Patriarch Nourhan Manougian and other Christian religious leaders, as well as diplomats and political leaders like Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and the representatives of the Kingdom of Jordan, the State of Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

Under the current status quo, only the Orthodox, Armenian and Roman-Catholic Churches can celebrate services in the Holy Sepulchre basilica. The restoration work on the Tomb of Christ began less than a year ago in May 2016 to preserve the Tomb in the event of a powerful earthquake, like the one that struck the country in 1927 that weakened the Aedicule.  The last work of consolidation of the Anastasis dates back to those devised by the British in 1947, who had been unable to complete the restoration because there was no agreement between the three Christian communities: Orthodox, Armenians and Franciscans who share custody of the Basilica. For the first time since the status quo of 1857, an agreement was finally reached between the three Christian communities, which was essential to commence the restoration work last year.  This delicate project, which presented both technical and ecumenical challenges, was finally completed successfully. Continue reading

The Orthodox Center of Chambésy to celebrate its 50th anniversary

The Orthodox Center of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Chambésy is going to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the election of His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, as well as the 50th anniversary of its foundation and the 20th anniversary of the opening of its Institute of Postgraduate Studies, on 22-24 April 2017.

The Orthodox Center of the Ecumenical Patriarchate was founded in June 1966. Its aims, as written in its Patriarchal and Synodic founding Tome, are:
– to inform the Christian world of the West, and especially of Western Europe, about the Orthodox worship and the Orthodox teaching, tradition and Theology;
– to study the theology and spiritual life of other Christian Churches and Confessions;
– to assist the communication between the local Orthodox Churches, and thus to promote orthodox unity;
– to promote the ecumenical spirit through the cultivation of relationships between Orthodoxy and other Christian Churches and Confessions aiming to promote the inter-christian unity. Continue reading

The leadership of the WCC Central Committee met in Geneva

The leadership of the World Council of Churches (WCC) Central Committee met in Geneva on 14-15 March 2017 to prepare for the Executive committee meeting to be held in June in Geneva. The WCC continues to focus on its pilgrimage of justice and peace, preparations for the 11th Assembly in 2021 as well its upcoming 70th anniversary. The WCC was formed in October 1948 in Amsterdam. During 2018, the WCC fellowship will not only celebrate significant milestones in the history of the WCC but also continue to address modern injustices and the ongoing struggle for a just peace. Continue reading

CCEE-CEC Joint Committee met in Paris

On 20 and 21 February 2017, the Joint Committee of the Council of European Bishops’ Conferences (CCEE) and the Conference of European Churches (CEC) met in Paris to reflect on 45 years of ecumenical cooperation between the two organisations and to explore new ways of cooperating.

The current socio-political climate – marked by instability and a lack of hope – informed many of the discussions in Paris. Representatives expressed a diversity of perspectives on our current context, including the future of Europe, social and political challenges, economic uncertainty and the myriad questions associated with widespread migration. The exchange was representative of the variety of perspectives found within European churches and indeed the continent as a whole. Continue reading

The Havana Encounter: One Year Later

Fribourg University (Switzerland) was chosen by the Roman Catholic Church and the Russian Orthodox Church for the commemoration of the first anniversary of the first encounter between the Pope of Rome and the Patriarch of Moscow. Last year, Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill met at “José Martí” International Airport in Havana (Cuba) on 12 February 2016 and signed a common declaration. This year, Cardinal Kurt Koch (President of  Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity) and Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk (Chairman of the Department for External Church Relations of the Orthodox Church of Russia) came to Fribourg (Switzerland) to reflect on the challenges and perspectives of that ecumenical meeting. Continue reading

Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church at the WCC

On 8-11 February 2017, His Holiness Abune Matthias Asratetshion Kokebu I, Patriarch of Ethiopia, Archbishop of Axum, Echegue of the See of St. Tekle Haimanot, Primate of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church made an official visit to the World Council of Churches that included a visit of the Ecumenical Centre, meeting with the leadership of the WCC, meeting with the Orthodox staff members, meeting with the African staff, a visit of the Ecumenical Institute of Bossey and a meeting with its faculty and students, a visit of the Orthodox Centre of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Chambésy and a meeting with the leadership, faculty and students of its Postgraduate Institute of Orthodox Theology, a public conference at the Ecumenical Center of the WCC, and a Liturgy at the Ecumenical Centre Chapel. Continue reading

Modern Slavery — A Joint Declaration

  1. We, Bartholomew, Archbishop of Constantinople-New Rome and Ecumenical Patriarch, and Justin, Archbishop of Canterbury and Primate of All England, co-sponsored a special international Forum on Modern Slavery titled “Sins Before Our Eyes” at the Phanar from February 6-7, 2017. The Forum, originally proposed during the official visit by the Ecumenical Patriarch to Lambeth Palace in November 2015, was a high-level gathering of distinguished scholars, practitioners and policymakers from around the world, invited to discuss the contemporary problem of human exploitation. The Forum also takes place within the context of 2017: The Year of the Sanctity of Childhood, as declared by the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
  2. Continue reading

Forum on Modern Slavery Held at the Phanar

“Lord, free the captives. Remember those in mines, in exile, in harsh labor, and in every kind of affliction, necessity, or distress . . . For You, Lord, are the helper of the helpless, the hope of the hopeless, and the savior of the afflicted.” (From the Liturgy of St. Basil)

Under the auspices of His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, a Forum on Modern Slavery, co-sponsored by the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Church of England took place in Istanbul from February 6–7, 2017. The Forum grew out of a conversation between His All-Holiness and His Grace Archbishop Justin of Canterbury during the formal Patriarchal visit to Lambeth Palace from November 2–4, 2015, which was in response to Archbishop Justin’s first visit to the Phanar from January 13–14, 2014. Continue reading

Georges Lemopoulos retires after 30 years of service at the WCC


On 26 January 2017, the World Council of Churches honoured its deputy general secretary, Mr. Georges Lemopoulos, upon his retirement after his 30 years of faithful service to the council and the ecumenical movement. Lemopoulos served also as Representative of the Ecumenical Patriarchate from 2008 to 2015.

Georges Lemopoulos served under five different WCC general secretaries, attended five general assemblies, 22 central and 52 executive committee meetings, numerous special ecumenical gatherings and worked in a range of different capacities within the council (from intern to staff member to deputy general secretary). His unique experience gave him the capacity of a highly critical and thoughtful approach to all WCC issues, always evaluating the present in the light of the past and of the future, strengthening the fellowship of churches and their vision. Continue reading

Faith and Order Study Group on Ecclesiology met in Bossey


The Faith and Order Study Group on Ecclesiology held a meeting at the Ecumenical Institute in Bossey, near Geneva, 8-12 January 2017, to continue its study of responses to the convergence document “The Church: Towards a Common Vision” submitted by Churches, councils of Churches, ecumenical organisations and individuals. So far, Faith and Order has received almost 60 responses and it is expected that this number or grow in the coming weeks and months. The group analysed carefully more than twenty responses. Its work will continue through video conferences in the coming weeks as well as through the Faith and Order Commission meeting that will take place in South Africa next June. The process is slow because each response is analysed individually by the whole group. Continue reading