WCC invites all member Churches to observe a day of prayer

World Council of Churches (WCC) acting general secretary Rev. Prof. Dr Ioan Sauca invites all member Churches to observe a global prayer day on 14 May 2020. The joint initiative with the members of the Higher Committee of Human Fraternity, of which the WCC is part, is calling for “prayer and supplication” to God for an end to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In calling for worldwide prayer, the committee stated in the invitation: “Each one, from wherever they are and according to the teachings of their religion, or faith, should implore God to lift this pandemic off us and the entire world, to rescue us all from this adversity.” The committee’s call also emphasizes the importance of asking God “to inspire scientists to find a cure that can turn back this disease, and to save the whole world from the health, economic, and human repercussions of this serious pandemic.” The committee is suggesting a day “for fasting, works of mercy, prayers, and supplications for the good of all humanity.” The Higher Committee of Human Fraternity was established last year as a concrete response to the Document on Human Fraternity signed in Abu Dhabi,  February 2019. Continue reading

Hungarian Government offers 10,000 face masks to the Ecumenical Patriarchate

An important donation to the Ecumenical Patriarchate was made by the Government of Hungary, which donated 10,000 face masks to meet the needs of the clergy and staff of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Turkey, as a precaution against coronavirus and to prevent its spread. This precious gift was brought to the headquarters of the patriarchate, at the Phanar, on 8 May 2020, by the Consul General of Hungary in Istanbul, Mr. Laszlo Keller, who was accompanied by his assistant, Mr. Tamas Torma.

During their meeting at the Patriarchal Office, which was held in a cordial atmosphere, His All-Holiness expressed his warm thanks to the Government of Hungary for its donation, but also for its generally harmonious cooperation with the Ecumenical Patriarchate. He handed over to the Consul General the Patriarchal Letters to the Prime Minister and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the country, in which he expresses his gratitude on behalf of the Ecumenical Patriarchate for this spontaneous and kind donation, especially useful under the current circumstances. The distribution of protective masks will take place through the eparchial bishops of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Turkey, the bishops responsible for the various districts of the Most Holy Archdiocese of Constantinople, as well as by the Grand Chancellor. Continue reading

The Ecumenical Patriarch prayed for all those suffering and affected by COVID-19

His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew prayed for all those suffering and affected by COVID-19 on 3 May 2020 in the chapel of the miraculous holy source in the Holy Monastery of the Life-Giving Source of Baloukli. The text of the Prayer was written specifically for this purpose and was read after the Divine Liturgy, which was celebrated in the main church of the monastery by His Eminence Metropolitan Meliton of Philadelphia, while the Ecumenical Patriarch and Metropolitan Gennadios of Sassima, responsible for the Monastery, were present in the altar. According to an old tradition, every year, on the Sunday of the Myrrh Bearers, a Patriarchal and Synodal Divine Liturgy takes place in this historic monastery, which did not happen this year due to the pandemic. Continue reading

Message of H.A.H. Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew on Earth Day 2020

This year marks the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, whose mission is to work with civil and faith communities for developing local solutions to global problems, including climate change, plastic pollution, and threats to biodiversity. Earth Day promotes programs ranging from low-impact actions to “a billion acts of green” to address the paramount challenge of our time.

Of course, every day is earth day! Every day is an opportunity to celebrate “the earth as the Lord’s and that all who dwell therein belong to the Lord” (Psalm 24.1). Every day is a reminder of our vulnerability and solidarity. In fact, today, more than ever, we are also reminded of our responsibility to the earth and each other in light of that interdependence between the earth and all its inhabitants. The ecological responsibility and the respect of the sacredness and the beauty of every human person, of the elderly and the disabled, the poor and the marginalized, the sick and the suffering, are today the universal categorical imperative for the whole humanity. Continue reading

Third Communiqué concerning the Coronavirus pandemic

As the state of emergency continues in the world, due to the Coronavirus pandemic, and in view of Holy and Great Week and Pascha, today, 8 April, the Hierarchs of the Throne in the City gathered at a meeting, during which the following was decided:

1. From the Saturday of Lazarus and onwards, divine services will be held in one Church of each Archdiocesan District of the Archdiocese of Constantinople and in each of the adjacent Metropolises, always behind closed doors, under the care and supervision of the local hierarch and the Patriarchal representative in each District.

2. Modern technology facilitates the pastoral work of the Church, especially under these present, difficult conditions. However, abuse of this cannot be permitted. Therefore, it is recommended that the online broadcasting of these divine services be done only from one Church of each Diocese of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, so as to prevent a new ethos of converting ecclesiastical rites into yet another televised spectacle. At the See of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, televised and online broadcasting will only take place from the Patriarchal Church of the Phanar, where the services will be celebrated by His All-Holiness and the members of the Patriarchal Court.

3. In the Dioceses abroad, all remaining issues will be decided by the local hierarchs, always within the framework of the decisions and directives of the local Governments and Health Authorities.

4. At the Patriarchal Monasteries, as has been decided, all divine services will be celebrated normally by their Brotherhoods, without the attendance of pilgrims from outside.

The Ecumenical Patriarch and the Hierarchy around Him wish a solemn Holy and Great Week and blessed Holy Pascha to all.

Phanar, 8 April 2020

From the Grand Chancellery

WCC general secretary returned home after ten years of leadership

After more than 30 years as a pastor, ecumenist and church leader, Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit firmly believes that the Church can change the world. As general secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC) for the past ten years, he has witnessed what Jesus Christ means to people of faith around the globe. On 31 March 2020, he returned back home to lead the Church of Norway as presiding bishop of its bishop’s conference.

A special farewell will be organized at the next WCC Central Committee meeting where he will present his report.

Rev. Dr Prof. Ioan Sauca (Orthodox Church of Romania) has been appointed acting WCC general secretary beginning 1 April. Sauca has served as Professor of Missiology and Ecumenical Theology at the Ecumenical Institute of Bossey since 1998 and as its director since 2001. He has served as a WCC deputy general secretary since 2014. In that capacity, he oversees a variety of WCC programmes in the areas of unity, mission,  ecumenical relations, youth, interreligious dialogue and cooperation, worship and spirituality, as well as ecumenical formation.

New communique concerning the COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

As this Coronavirus crisis continues to spread and intensify on a global scale, the Ecumenical Patriarchate is monitoring the situation with an urgent sense of responsibility towards its faithful and all people without exception, and, following the Communiqué of 11 March 2020, upon deliberation of its Hierarchs in the City, announces the following:

1) The Ecumenical Patriarchate emphatically reiterates its appeal to everyone to limit their outings and travels to what is necessary, remaining in their homes for their own safety and the protection of the general public.

2) It commends the spirit of self-sacrifice demonstrated by those working in the field of healthcare and expresses its gratitude for their extraordinary and exhaustive efforts to assist those in need, as well as for the danger they knowingly risk by coming in contact with those infected by Covid-19.

3) It underlines the need for everyone to follow the decisions and instructions of the responsible health authorities for the sake of the common good.

4) In light of decisions already taken by some eparchies of the Ecumenical Throne, today we universally declare our ecclesiastical resolution and mandate to cease all divine services, events, and rites, with the exception of private prayer in churches that will remain open, until the end of March. This restriction will be later reassessed, in accordance with the development of the pandemic caused by the virus.

5) All Patriarchal and Stavropegial Monasteries will continue to hold regular divine services for their monastic communities, but outside pilgrims and visitors will not be permitted entry.

6) In the same framework, the Patriarchal Offices at the Phanar will remain closed until further notice, while the Ecumenical Patriarch and clergy of the Patriarchal Court will perform the prescribed divine services and pray for the whole world and for its speedy relief from this trial.

From the Chief Secretariat
of the Holy and Sacred Synod

Phanar, 18 March 2020

Communique concerning the COVID-19 (Corona virus)

The Holy and Great Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, convened under the presidency of His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, and among other issues, thoroughly deliberated upon the events of the COVID-19 (Corona) virus and with a feeling of pastoral responsibility, points out the following:

1) Despite the seriousness of the situation, prudence, patience, and the avoidance of panic are advised.

2) The Church has and continues to respect medical science. Thus, the Church recommends that all the faithful adhere to the official directives of both the World Health Organization and the pertinent pronouncements and legal regulations issued by the civil authorities of their respective  countries.

3) The Ecumenical Patriarchate expresses its gratitude to all those working self-sacrificially within all health, medical, nursing, and research fields in order that this new pandemic be confronted and treated.

4) The Mother Church of Constantinople knows empirically from its two-thousand-year existence that Holy Communion is “the antidote to mortality” and remains firm in its Orthodox teaching regarding the Holy Eucharist.

5) It is considered self-evident that faith in God, as transcendence and not as the abolition of human reason, along with prayer strengthen the spiritual battle of every Christian. Therefore, the Mother Church of Constantinople urges its spiritual children throughout the world to intensify their petitions so that, strengthened and illumined by God, this contemporary tribulation may be overcome.

11 March 2020
From the Chief Secretariat of the Holy and Sacred Synod


Sunday of Orthodoxy at the Ecumenical Patriarchate

On 8 March 2020, His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and His Beatitude Archbishop Chrysostomos II of Cyprus (Primate of the Church of Cyprus), together with many hierarchs, celebrated the Sunday of Orthodoxy at the Ecumenical Patriarchate at the Patriarchal Church of Saint George.

In his address, the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew welcomed at the Center of Orthodoxy the Primate of the Church of Cyprus, His Beatitude Archbishop Chrysostomos and his suite, expressing his own warm greetings and congratulations as well as on behalf of the members of the Holy and Sacred Synod, the Patriarchal Court and the pious people of God.

“Any opposition to the matter of the autocephaly of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine is not canonical. However, there are some who intend to harm the newly-established Orthodox Church of Ukraine with the aim of creating a secular institution, which, on the one hand, will be operating in contrast with ecclesial principles and tradition and, on the other hand, will be serving foreign interests in clear contradiction with Orthodox ecclesiology and the synodical character of the Orthodox Church”, stated Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew in his speech, at the end of the Divine Liturgy. Patriarch Bartholomew made it clear that the decision to grant autocephaly to the Orthodox Church of Ukraine “brought to light the canonical responsibility of the Ecumenical Throne and gave prominence to the canonical decisions taken by the Ecumenical Councils”. “The recognition of the autocephaly of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine from the other Orthodox Churches is the basic precondition for achieving unity within the Orthodox world,” he concluded. Continue reading

Fr Prof. Ioan Sauca appointed acting WCC general secretary

Fr Prof. Ioan Sauca has been appointed acting World Council of Churches (WCC) general secretary beginning 1 April 2020. Fr Ioan Sauca, who currently serves as deputy general secretary for the WCC programme on Ecumenical Formation and Bossey Ecumenical Institute, will hold the general secretary post until the WCC Executive Committee meets in June 2020.

The leadership of the WCC Central Committee decided to postpone the full WCC Central Committee meeting, once slated for 18-24 March, along with the Executive Committee meeting that was to precede it in light of concerns about and implications of the current international spread of COVID 19 (coronavirus). Postponing the meetings incurs its own costs, both institutional and financial. The executive committee must appoint an acting general secretary to fill the vacant position as of 1 April, for the time after the departure of the present general secretary. The leadership of the central committee decided to appoint WCC deputy general secretary Rev. Prof. Dr Ioan Sauca as acting general secretary for the period from 1 April until the Executive Committee meets in June. Continue reading