Catholic-Orthodox Bilateral Dialogue on the Way to its Next Plenary

The Coordinating Committee of the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church met in Leros (Greece) on 5-8 September 2017, under the presidency of the two co-chairmen, Cardinal Kurth Koch (President of the Pontifical Council for the promotion of the unity of Christians) and Archbishop Job of Telmessos (Ecumenical Patriarchate), benefiting from the hospitality of Metropolitan Paisios of Leros, Kalymnos and Astypalaia (Ecumenical Patriarchate), to discuss the next stage of the dialogue following the agreed statement “Synodality and Primacy during the First Millennium: Towards a Common Understanding in Service to the Unity of the Church,” finalized on 21 September 2016 at the plenary meeting of the Commission in Chieti (Italy).

After much discussion, it was decided that the topic for the next stage of the dialogue should be: “Towards Unity in Faith: Theological and Canonical Issues”. A paper on this topic will be prepared for the next plenary meeting of the Commission which is expected in 2019. It was also decided that work should begin already on an additional document, which will follow on from the Chieti document and will be entitled: “Primacy and Synodality in the Second Millennium and Today”. It will include consideration of “uniatism” among other issues.

International Ecumenical Conference of Orthodox Spirituality at the Monastery of Bose

The 25th International Ecumenical Conference of Orthodox Spirituality was held at the Monastery of Bose (Italy) on 6-9 September 2017 on the theme of the Gift of Hospitality. It was opened several words of gratitude for this important anniversary, first expressed by Pope Francis, who in his greeting message presented the conventions organized by the Bose monastery in collaboration with the Orthodox Churches as a tool to sprout among the Christians of various confessions a “hospitality of the heart”. Feelings of joy, satisfaction, and even “emotion” were expressed by His Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and His Beatitude the Patriarch of Alexandria and all Africa Theodoros II, who began the congress with their communications. Messages were also sent by the Patriarchs John X of Antioch, Kirill of Moscow and Daniel of Romania, Archbishop Hieronymos II of Athens and all of Greece, Archbishop Anastasios of Tirana, Durres and all Albania, Metropolitan Onufri of Kiev and all of Ukraine, Cardinal Kurth Koch, President of the Pontifical Council for the promotion of the unity of Christians, and Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby. The intervention of Brother Enzo Bianchi, founder of the community, presented “the space opened by the cry of the poor and the stranger” as “the place where God reveals himself”. Continue reading

Canonists from Eastern Churches reflect on Primacy and Synodality

The Society for the Law of the Eastern Churches held its 23rd International Congress in Debrecen (Hungary) on September 3-8, 2017 on the theme “Primacy and Synodality. Deepening Insights”, which is actual in the Ecumenical dialogue. The congress was hosted by the Hungarian Greek Catholic Church and focused on current Catholic and Orthodox positions as well as on perspectives from Local Churches and Current Catholic Institutions, taking into account historical perspectives and comparative views. As it was noted in the message of the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew to the participants of the congress, “the issue of primacy and conciliarity is of decisive significance for the Eastern Churches, where neither does primacy obscure conciliarity nor does conciliarity obfuscate primacy. (…) Moreover, the topic of discussion at the Joint International Commission for the Theological Dialogue between the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church has for the last years concentrated on the matter of primacy, with particular reference to the role of the Bishop of Rome in the communion of the Churches”. Continue reading

Joint Message on the World Day of Prayer for Creation

Joint Message

of  Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew

on the World Day of Prayer for Creation

The story of creation presents us with a panoramic view of the world. Scripture reveals that, “in the beginning”, God intended humanity to cooperate in the preservation and protection of the natural environment. At first, as we read in Genesis, “no plant of the field was yet in the earth and no herb of the field had yet sprung up – for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was no one to till the ground” (2:5). The earth was entrusted to us as a sublime gift and legacy, for which all of us share responsibility until, “in the end”, all things in heaven and on earth will be restored in Christ (cf. Eph 1:10). Our human dignity and welfare are deeply connected to our care for the whole of creation.

However, “in the meantime”, the history of the world presents a very different context. It reveals a morally decaying scenario where our attitude and behaviour towards creation obscures our calling as God’s co-operators. Our propensity to interrupt the world’s delicate and balanced ecosystems, our insatiable desire to manipulate and control the planet’s limited resources, and our greed for limitless profit in markets – all these have alienated us from the original purpose of creation. We no longer respect nature as a shared gift; instead, we regard it as a private possession. We no longer associate with nature in order to sustain it; instead, we lord over it to support our own constructs. Continue reading

WCC youth commission ECHOS met in Romania

19 August 2017, Sibiu, Romania: Gathering in Sibiu, Romania, the World Council of Churches youth commission ECHOS met on 17-20 August for days of discernment on the position and role of youth in the ecumenical movement today, and to set the future path of the commission, as it journeys on the Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace. On 19 August, the group was received by the Romanian Orthodox Church.

Gathering in Sibiu (Romania), the World Council of Churches (WCC) youth commission ECHOS met on 17-20 August for days of discernment on the position and role of youth in the ecumenical movement today, and to set the future path of the commission, as it journeys on the Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace. Moderator Martina Viktorie Kopecká, from the Czechoslovak Hussite Church, who is also a member of the WCC Executive Committee and of the WCC Ecumenical Officers Network, welcomed the group saying, “as ECHOS commissioners, we are all called by God, who sent us on the most important mission, to proclaim the good news… Part of this journey of love,is to visit wounds and repent, to move forward, but also to move in the middle of our hearts, as we are on the pilgrimage together.”

A key point of focus for the commissioners was on how to be strategic in encouraging youth representation and securing active engagement of youth in the ecumenical movement in the future. Continue reading

Ecumenical Patriarch’s Visit to Hungary

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew has concluded a four-day visit to Hungary on 18-21 August 2017 at the invitation of the country’s authorities. During the visit, His All-Holiness was presented with a building complex located in the center of Budapest, which the Hungarian Government has decided to donate for the needs of the Orthodox Exarchate of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Hungary. “Hungary will never forget what it owes to Orthodox Christianity,” said Deputy Prime Minister Zsolt Semjén while handed over the keys of a building in central Budapest. The building represents Hungary’s “modest return” of gratitude owed to Bartholomew I and the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople. It also gives an opportunity for the church to be able to carry out its services in Hungary, he added. Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew expressed thanks for the “historic building complex of immense value” and said the church “had a burning need for it” in order “to carry out its diverse pastoral and cultural tasks”. In the census of 2011, a total of 1,701 Hungarians said they followed the Greek Orthodox faith. Continue reading

Ecumenical Patriarch to address the International Ecumenical Conference in Bose

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew shall address the 25th International Ecumenical Conference on Orthodox Spirituality on “The Gift of Hospitality” at the Monastery of Bose (Italy) on 6 September 2017. The Patriarch will speak on the theme: “To Receive Humanity on a Habitable Earth.

The 25th International Ecumenical Conference on Orthodox Spirituality, organized in collaboration with the Orthodox Churches (Bose, 6–9 September 2017) wishes to examine more closely an essential dimension of Christian life: xenitia, the consciousness of being strangers and temporary residents on earth (cf. Heb 11,13), which leads to welcoming the other as a gift of God, to philoxenia (cf. Heb 13,2).

Christians are called upon to be strangers capable of hospitality. The Church of God, local churches, and Christians live in anticipation of the Kingdom while being migrants towards the heavenly Jerusalem. The conference will attempt to illustrate some aspects and moments of this constituent and fertile tension of being a church in journey by drawing especially on the rich tradition of the Christian East and on the teaching of the fathers, the example of monasticism, but also by listening to the experience of Orthodox Churches today.

Among the other personalities speaking at the conference will be His Beatitude Patriarch Theodoros II of Alexandria and All Africa, Hegumen Elisseos of the Monastery of Simonopetra on Mount Athos and Brother Alois the Prior of Taizé.

CEC Presidency visit to Estonia

On 18 August 2017 a joint delegation from the Conference of European Churches (CEC) and the commission of Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union (COMECE) meet with the Estonian president, Mr. Jüri Ratas, as they begin their six month Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

The meeting took place in Tallinn and on the agenda were common concerns as well as what the most urgent priorities are under the Estonian presidency.

The delegation also visited the autonomous Orthodox Church of Estonia under the Ecumenical Patriarchate and her Primate, Metropolitan Stephanos of Tallin and all Estonia.

WCC 70th Anniversary Coordination Committee met

On 21 August 2017, the World Council of Churches 70th Anniversary Coordination Committee met in Geneva at the Ecumenical Centre to discuss the program of festivities schedule in 2018.

WCC general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit said: “We are approaching the 70th anniversary of the WCC, and we shall discuss our plans for this important dimension to what we do in 2018. Through the entire history of the WCC, there has been a commitment to work for both the unity of the Church and the common service and witness for justice and peace in the world.”

The members of the WCC 70th Anniversary Coordination Committee present at the meeting were WCC General Secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, WCC President for Asia Rev. Dr Sang Chang, WCC President for Europe Archbishop Emeritus Dr Anders Wejryd, Vice Moderator of the WCC Central Committee H.E. Metropolitan Prof. Dr Gennadios of Sassima, Member of the WCC ex comm and central committee; moderator of the ECHOS Youth Commission Rev. Martina Viktorie Kopeckà, former WCC colleague Dr Guillermo Kerber, former WCC colleague Rev. Dwain Epps and WCC Staff members: Mr Stanley Noffsinger, Ms Marianne Ejdersten and Mr Georges Lemopoulos.

The historical roots of the World Council of Churches are found in student and lay movements of the 19th century, the 1910 Edinburgh world missionary conference, and a 1920 encyclical from the Ecumenical Patriarchate suggesting a “fellowship of churches” similar to the League of Nations. Leaders representing more than 100 churches voted in 1937-38 to found a World Council of Churches, but its inauguration was delayed following the outbreak of the second world war.

Informal Talks between the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Anglican Communion

On Tuesday, June 27, 2017 informal talks between the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Anglican Communion took place in London at Westminster Abbe, to exchange views on issues of common interest and specific positions of the two Churches.

The Orthodox delegation headed by His Eminence Archbishop Gregorios of Thyatira and Great Britain and consisted of Metropolitan Athenagoras of Belgium, new co-chairman of the International Dialogue between the Orthodox Church and the Anglican Communion, Metropolitan Kallistos of Diokleia and Protopresbyter Christos Christakis, secretary of the Official Dialogue.

The delegation of the Ecumenical Patriarchate informed the Anglicans of the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church held in Crete in June last year, and many other events of interorthodox and ecumenical interest.

On Wednesday, June 28, 2017 a preparatory meeting took place between the two co-chairs of the official dialogue, namely Metropolitan Athenagoras of Belgium and Archbishop Richard Clarke, head of the Anglican Church of Ireland, together with the secretaries Protopresbyter Christakis Christos (Orthodox ) and the Reverend John Gibault (Anglican).

The next meeting of the Anglican-Orthodox Dialogue will take place on the island of Malta in October this year and will discuss the issues of environment and euthanasia.