The Delegation of the Ecumenical Patriarchate at the Thronal Feast of the Church of Rome

The Delegation of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, consisting of of His Excellency Archbishop Job of Telmessos, Co-President of the Joint International Commission for the Theological Dialogue between the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church, His Grace Bishop Adrianos of Halicarnassus and the Reverend Patriarchal Deacon Barnabas Grigoriadis, arrived to Rome on 28 June 2022 to participate in the Thronal Feast of the Church of Rome. On 29 June, the members of the delegation attended the Solemn Mass for the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul at Saint Peter’s Basilica. Later in the afternoon, they took part in the conversations with the members of the Dicastery for Promoting Christian Unity. During the meeting they discussed current issues of the two Churches as well as future steps of the Joint International Commission for the Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church. The next plenary of the Commission is planned for next year in Alexandria to discuss the document entitled “Primacy and Synodality in the Second Millennium and Today”.

On 30 June, the delegation was received by His Holiness Pope Francis in a private audience, in the presence of His Eminence Kurt Koch, Prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Christian Unity, Bishop Brian Farrell, Secretary of the Dicastery, and Monsignor Andrea Palmieri, Under-Secretary of the Dicastery.

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World Council of Churches Central Committee convened in-person in Geneva

The World Council of Churches (WCC) central committee convened in-person from 15-18 June 2022 at the Ecumenical Center in Geneva for the first time since 2018. While solemnly acknowledging the grave crises facing the world, the WCC governing body also brought a spirit of joyful gathering as preparations for the WCC 11th Assembly continue. A memorial prayer for the late Metropolitan Gennadios of Sassima took place on the opening day.

The agenda included review and action on the draft unity statement for the assembly, as well as on amendments proposed by the working group on constitution and rules, and by-laws for two commissions.  The WCC central committee issued among others a statement on war in Ukraine and on Threats to a Just Peace in Israel and Palestine, and to the Christian Presence in the Holy Land.

The Central Committee elected as new WCC general secretary Rev. Prof. Dr Jerry Pillay, dean of the Faculty of Theology and Religion at the University of Pretoria. He is a member of the Uniting Presbyterian Church in Southern Africa. Dr Pillay will take up his position 1 January 2023.

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Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew Celebrated His Name’s Day

On his the name’s day, on the feast of the glorious Holy Apostles Bartholomew and Barnabas, His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew presided the Divine Liturgy from the throne on 10 June, 2022 at the Patriarchal Church of Saint Georges at the Phanar, together with their Eminences Senior Metropolitan Emmanuel of Chalcedon, Senior Metropolitan Demetrios of the Princes Islands, Chrysostom of Dodoni, Peter of Prespon and Pelagonia, Timothy of Debar and Kichevo, Athenagoras of Mexico, Meliton of Philadelphia, Irinaios of Myriophytos and Peristasis, Chrysostomos of Myra, Theodoretos of Laodicea, Theoleptos of Iconium, Nikandros of Irinoupolis, Athenagoras of Belgium, Chrysostom of Patras, Eugenios of Crete, Nathanael of Kos and Nisyros, Dionysios of Zakynthos, Stephanos of Kallioupolis and Matytos, Elpidophoros of America, Arsenios of Austria, Athenagoras of Kydonia, Panteleimon of Maronia and Komotini, Cleopas of Sweden, Maximos of Ioannina, Maximos of Selyvria, Amphilochios of Adrianoupolis, Bartholomew of Smyrna, Kyrillos of Imbros and Tenedos, Chrysostomos of Semes, Symeon of Fthiotida, Hierotheos of Lemnos and Agios Eustratios, Prodromos of Rethymnon and Aulopotamos, Andreas of Saranta Ekklesies, Joachim of Proussa and His Excellency Job of Telmessos.

His Eminence Archbishop Stephan of Ohrid, Hierarchs of the Ecumenical Throne, His Eminence Archbishop Nektarios of Anthidonos (Representative of the Holy Sepulcher in Constantinople), His Eminence Metropolitan Vassilios of Constantia and Famagusta (Representative of the Holy Church of Cyprus), His Excellency Archbishop Marek Solczynski (Vatican nuncio to Turkey and Azerbaijan), His Grace Bishop Parthenios of Antania (Abbot of the Holy Monastery of the Holy Forerunner-Bigorski) with members of his brotherhood, the Very Reverend Archimandrite Nathanael (Abbot of the Holy Monastery of Iviron on Mount Athos) with members of his brotherhood, clergymen, monks and nuns, representatives of Christian communities in Constantinople and from around the world and Archons of the Ecumenical Throne.

Were also present Mrs. Zetta Makri, Deputy Minister of Education and Religion of Greece, Mr. Ioannis Chrysoulakis, Secretary General of Hellenes Abroad and Public Diplomacy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Greece, the Consuls General in Istanbul of Greece, Mrs. Georgia Sultanopoulou, of Ukraine, Mr. Roman Nedilskyi, and of the Republic of Northern Macedonia, Mr. Aktan Ago, representatives of the community, students of the Greek schools with their principals and teachers, faithful from Constantinople, and a large number of pilgrims from Greece, the Republic of Northern Macedonia and other countries.

After the Dismissal, His All-Holiness served a memorial service for the rest of the soul of the late Metropolitan Sotirios of Pisidia, who felt asleep in the Lord a few hours earlier in the morning, after many months of illness. Afterwards, His All-Holiness was greeted on behalf of the Hierarchy of the Throne by His Eminence Senior Metropolitan Emmanuel of Chalcedon. His All-Holiness, in return, thanked all those who came to celebrate his name’s day.

Halki Summit V

Halki Summit V brought together Orthodox and Catholics scholars and students from all over the world on the theme: “Sustaining the Future of the Planet Together: The Prophetic Ministry of Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew” in Istanbul, Turkey (June 8-11, 2022), with such distinguished speakers as Archbishop Job of Telmessos, Prof. Dr. Giuseppe Argiolas, Dr. Nikolaos Asproulis, Prof. Vincenzo Buonomo, Msgr. Prof. Piero Coda and Vasilios N. Makrides.

The goal was to reflect on the ecological inspiration and initiatives of our respective global religious leaders, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and Pope Francis. It is not coincidental for the Christian world—and vital for the protection of the environment—that the Pope and the Ecumenical Patriarch have issued joint statements on caring for God’s gift of creation. His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew published encyclicals and initiated conferences on ecological issues for more than thirty years. His Holiness Pope Francis published a seminal encyclical and publicly spoke on climate change from the outset of his ministry. Together the two leaders present a unified approach and prophetic voice on the inseparable relationship between sustainability of the planet and salvation of the world.

The Halki Summit is a gathering of activists, scientists, journalists, business leaders, theologians, and academics engaging and working across intellectual boundaries to bring the global environmental discussion to a new and richer place. At the heart of that discussion is the belief that no effort can be successful without a fundamental change in values as manifested in ethics, spirituality, and religion.

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Informal Talks between the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Anglican Church

The informal talks between the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Anglican Church took place at the headquarters of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, at the Phanar, in Istanbul, on 8-10 June 2022. The delegation of the Ecumenical Patriarchate consisted of Metropolitan Athenagoras of Belgium and Exarch of the Netherlands and Luxembourg (Orthodox co-chair of the International Commission of the Anglican-Orthodox Theological Dialogue), Metropolitan Maximos of Selyvria, Archbishop Job of Telmessos and Protopresbyter Christos Christakis (Orthodox co-secretary of that Commission). The Anglican Church was represented by Archbishop Richard Clarke (Anglican co-chair of the International Commission of the Anglican-Orthodox Theological Dialogue), Archbishop Michael Lewis, Reverend Dr. William Adam and Reverend Neil Vigers. The two delegations shared information of mutual interest. They also participated in the celebrations of the name day of His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and had a private audience with him. In marge of the meeting, the Steering Committee of the International Commission of the Anglican-Orthodox Theological Dialogue met in order to prepare its next plenary which will take place in Athens later this year.

In memoriam Metropolitan Gennadios of Sassima (1951-2022)

His Eminence Metropolitan Gennadios of Sassima, Vice-moderator of the World Council of Churches Central Committee, passed away on 1 June 2022 at the age of 70 years. Metropolitan Gennadios of blessed memory was recently hospitalized in Thessaloniki, where His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew visited him during his last pastoral visit.

Metropolitan Gennadios Limouris was born on 27 July 1951 in Thessaloniki. He had studied at Saint Sergius Orthodox Theological Institute in Paris and hold a doctorate in Theology from the University of Strasbourg (France). He was a professor of Orthodox theology and canon law in various universities. He has been ordained bishop on 1 June 1997 at the Patriarchal church of Saint Georges at the Phanar.

In addition to being vice-moderator of the WCC Central Committee, Metropolitan Gennadios has served as a member of the presidium and of the governing board of the Conference of European Churches. He has been a member of the WCC Executive and Central Committees since 2002. From 1983-93, he was a staff member of the WCC’s Faith and Order secretariat in Geneva. He has been vice-moderator of the WCC’s Faith and Order Commission from 1998-2006.

He was also co-president of the Joint International Theological Dialogue between Orthodox and Lutheran, member of the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church of which he has been co-secretary for many years and co-chairman of the Orthodox and Methodist and Baptist theological preparatory committee.

His funeral took place on 3 June 2022 at the Holy Hermitage of Timios Prodromos of Akritochori  in Greece, where he was buried, in presence of Dr Agnes Abuom, WCC central committee moderator, who extended condolences to the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the wider ecumenical family.

International Conference “Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew: Thirty Years of Ministry”

An International Conference honoring His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew on the occasion of the thirty years of his patriarchal ministry took place in Thessaloniki on 26-29 May, 2022, organized by the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and the Patriarchal Foundation of Patristic Studies. More than forty hierarchs, personalities and scholars from the Orthodox and other Christian Churches presented the various aspects of the rich and multi-disciplinary ministry of the patriarch. The last two sessions of the colloquium were devoted to inter-Christian and inter-religious dialogues. Speakers included His Grace Bishop Brian Farrell from the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, the former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, His Eminence Archbishop Angaelos from the Coptic Orthodox Church, founder of the Community of Sant’Egidio Mr. Andrea Riccardi, and Rabbi David Rosen who serves as the American Jewish Committee’s International Director of Interreligious Affairs.

In the inaugural address, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew underlined that “Orthodox theology gives in the present the God-loving and philanthropic witness in front of the great contemporary challenges of technology, economy, environment, society, politics and culture” and stressed that “it is inconceivable to talk about faith and religion and not to refer to the role of religions in achieving and maintaining peace”. “And at the present time, we are concerned with the division of Christianity, the anthropological and moral confusion about the essentials of life among modern Christians, and how these will be overcome. We all owe it to ourselves to compete in the arena of ecumenical dialogue. It is the responsibility of the new generation to continue the efforts of the older ones and to justify their visions. The future belongs to the common Christian witness” said the Ecumenical Patriarch.

Meeting of the Coordinating Committee of the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue in Crete

After an interruption of two years due to the pandemic, the Coordinating Committee of the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church, under the co-presidency of Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for promoting Christian Unity, and Archbishop Job of Telmessos, Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, met from 16 – 20 May 2022, at the Conference Center Theomitor of Rethymno (Crete, Greece). The Committee was generously and fraternally hosted by Metropolitan Prodromos of Rethymno and Avlopotamos.

The Committee completed the revision of the draft text entitled, “Primacy and Synodality in the Second Millennium and Today” to be presented to a Plenary Session of the Joint International Commission, expected to take place in 2023.

Gravely concerned about the tragic war in Ukraine and the many victims and refugees, the Members prayerfully invoked God’s peace upon that country and its people.

At the end of the meeting the Members of the Committee paid a visit to Archbishop Eugenios of Crete, who praised the work done and expressed encouragement for the future of Catholic-Orthodox dialogue.

Inter-Orthodox Pre-Assembly Consultation of the World Council of Churches held in Cyprus

Fifty-two delegates representing 20 Eastern and Oriental Orthodox World Council of Churches member Churches participated in the Pre-Assembly Consultation in Paralimni, Cyprus, on 9-16 May, 2022 in preparation to the WCC 11th Assembly to be held in Karlsruhe, Germany from 31 August to 8 September 2022. Since 1983, the WCC has convened an Inter-Orthodox Pre-Assembly Consultation prior to its Assemblies. The purpose of this year’s Consultation in Cyprus was to articulate the Orthodox perspective on the theme of the Assembly, ‘Christ’s love moves the world to reconciliation and unity’, prepare the delegates for their fullest participation, and express their expectations of the upcoming Assembly and life in the WCC and beyond.

Cypriot presidential commissioner Photis Photiou shared an opening welcome, commending the Orthodox churches for coming together, and thanking the World Council of Churches for providing “an open platform” for dialogue and for listening to one another. The local host of the meeting, H.E. Metropolitan Vasilios of Constantia and Ammochostos (Orthodox Church of Cyprus), also shared words of welcome and reflected on the ongoing quest for reconciliation. He thanked those attending for their willingness to work toward a vision for the assembly.

The Primate of the Church of Cyprus, Archbishop Chrysostomos II, welcomed members of the WCC Inter-Orthodox Pre-Assembly at his residence in Nicosia, Cyprus, on 12 May, the Feast of Saint Epiphanius. The meeting acknowledged contributions from the Church of Cyprus to the ecumenical movement, as well as the aspiration of Churches to see a united island, partitioned as result of the Turkish invasion in 1974.

The delegates approved a report of the Consultation that will be shared with all Eastern and Oriental Orthodox member churches and offered it as an Orthodox contribution to the 11th Assembly for the wider ecumenical fellowship, in which they stated stated their “grave concern over the armed conflict in Ukraine that has already claimed many people’s lives” and being “unanimous in condemning the wars”, calling “upon all the parties involved in the conflicts to do everything within their power for the urgent establishment of peace and for ensuring safety in Ukraine, Russia, Europe, and the whole world.”

The Ecumenical Patriarch in Saudi Arabia

His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew participated in the Forum for Promoting Common Values among the Followers of Religions, which took place on 10-12 May, 2022, in Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, at which he delivered a keynote address at the beginning of the proceedings of the international conference.

In his address, the Ecumenical Patriarch underlined that an “essential function of religion is peacemaking” and added that “in our times, the credibility of religions largely depends on their commitment to peace”. And he underlined that “given the tremendous contemporary challenges, the most appropriate way to peace and reconciliation is sincere interreligious dialogue and mutual respect”.

His All-Holiness was accompanied by His Eminence Senior Metropolitan Emmanuel of Chalcedon, the Third Patriarchal Deacon Kallinikos and Archon Mr. Panteleimon Vigas.