Consultation on the Role of Women in Churches

A consultation with the theme “Ecumenical Perspective on the Role of Women in the Churches” brought together 28 women and men to the Monastero di Bose in northern Italy from 3-7 October.

Participants came from major Christian traditions including Anglican, Baptist, Disciples of Christ, Lutheran, Mennonite, Methodist, Orthodox (Eastern and Oriental), Pentecostal, Reformed and Roman Catholic; there were also representatives of regional ecumenical organisations including the All Africa Conference of Churches, Caribbean Conference of Churches, Consejo Latinoamericano de Iglesias, Middle East Council of Churches, National Council of Churches in India, and Conference of European Churches. Continue reading

Permanent Committee on Consensus and Collaboration of the WCC met on Rhodes

From responding to divisions within churches and communities, to addressing fair representation within the World Council of Churches (WCC), the Permanent Committee on Consensus and Collaboration (PCCC) of the WCC met from 2-6 October in Rhodes, Greece, hosted by the Ecumenical Patriarchate, through the hospitality of H. E. Metropolitan Kyrillos of Rhodes.

Co-moderated by H.E. Metropolitan Prof. Dr Gennadios of Sassima and Bishop Simo Peura (Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland), the PCCC received information about the ongoing work of the WCC Faith and Order Commission and handled several items such as consensus, preparations for the WCC 11th Assembly, membership matters, “fair and adequate” representation, constitutional changes, and prayer and “common prayer” in the ecumenical movement. Continue reading

Orthodox attended Ecumenical Officers Meeting

A network meeting of Ecumenical Officers was organized by the World Council of Churches on 16-19 September 2017. Some forty professionals working on ecumenical relations, sometimes referred as “the motor engineers of the Ecumenical Movement”, coming from different member Churches in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Europe and the Middle East as well as North and South America, gathered in Geneva, Switzerland for their four-day meeting which took place at the WCC’s Ecumenical Institute at Bossey and at the Ecumenical Centre.

The meeting afforded them an opportunity to learn more about the various programmes of the World Council of Churches as well as from each other. Various staff members of the WCC and partner organizations based in Geneva presented them their work. Special sessions were dedicated to the presentation of the document on “Ecumenical Diakonia”, the program of the WCC 70th anniversary, the upcoming World Mission Conference (Tanzania, 2018) and the preparation of the next WCC Assembly of 2021.

Among the Orthodox, representatives from the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the Patriarchate of Antioch and from the Churches of Russia, Romania and Cyprus, as well as from the “Orthodox Church in America” attended the meeting.

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.