The Annual Conference of Secretaries of World Christian Communions met online

The Annual Conference of Secretaries of World Christian Communions met online on 20-22 October 2020 due to the pandemic of covid-19. The annual Conference of Secretaries of World Christian Communions brings together representatives from diverse Christian traditions to exchange information and to discuss their work and fellowship together.

Secretaries heard reports from the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the Orthodox Church of Russia, Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity of the Roman Catholic Church, World Council of Churches, Baptist World Alliance, Global Pentecostalism, World Communion of Reformed Churches, Disciples Ecumenical Consultative Council, International Old Catholic Bishops’ Conference, Mennonite World Conference, Moravian Church Worldwide Unity Board, Organization of African Independent Churches, Global Christian Forum, World Convention of the Churches of Christ, World Evangelical Alliance, World Methodist Council, Lutheran World Federation, Anglican Communion, The Salvation Army, Friends World Committee for Consultation, Armenian Apostolic Church, and the General Conference of the Seventh-day Adventists.

Besides discussing the state of bilateral dialogues and contemporary topics related to the ecumenical movement, the secretaries also reflected on the present day pandemic of covid-19.

This informal ecumenical forum, dating back to 1957, sees itself as “communions of churches belonging to the same tradition and held together by this common heritage, conscious of living in the same universal fellowship and giving to this consciousness at least some structured visible expression.”

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew attended the International Meeting of Prayer for Peace “No One Is Saved Alone – Peace and Fraternity”

His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew visited Rome on 19-22 October 2020 to attend and speak at the International Meeting of prayer for peace “No One Is Saved Alone – Peace and Fraternity”, organized in Rome on 20 October 2020 by the Community of Sant’Egidio. On 19 October, His All-Holiness chaired a prayer. On 21 October 2020, the Ecumenical Patriarch received the title of Honorary Doctor from the Pontifical University of Antonianum. On the same occasion, His All-Holiness had a special meeting with His Holiness Pope Francis.

It is in the spirit of the words of encyclical “Fratelli Tutti” of His Holiness Pope Francis that the Community of Sant’Egidio has promoted the International Meeting of Prayer for Peace between the large world religions, titled: “No one is saved alone – Peace and fraternity“.

In his laudatio at the Pontifical University of Antonianum, Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin emphasized that there is deep, true harmony between the teaching of Pope Francis and that of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. He emphasized that in the figure of the Ecumenical Patriarch we can find “a particularly significant example because of his heartfelt concern for the environmental crisis and, even more so, for his profound reflection on the ecological theme”, recalling how Patriarch Bartholomew had been “a source of inspiration” for Pope Francis.

 

The annual plenary meeting of the International Commission for the Anglican–Orthodox Theological Dialogue

The annual plenary meeting of the International Commission for the Anglican–Orthodox Theological Dialogue (ICAOTD) due to take place in Greece in October 2020 was cancelled because of Covid restrictions. Instead, the commission gathered for a video conference on Monday 19 October 2020.

The Co-Chairs of the Dialogue are Metropolitan Athenagoras of Belgium (Ecumenical Patriarchate) and The Rt Revd Dr Richard Clarke, retired Archbishop of Armagh (Anglican Communion).

During the meeting the members of the Commission brought news from their Churches and requests for prayer. The Commission also heard news that their agreed statement on ecology, Stewards of Creation: A Hope-Filled Ecology had been published on 19 October 2020. An update was received on the drafting of a statement on ethical issues surrounding the end of life.

The Commission joined together in prayer and continue to pray with hope for the Church and the World in difficult times. Now the whole group of those who believed were of one heart and soul. (Acts 4.32)

The Commission will reconvene in Greece between 18 and 25 October 2021.

Stewards of Creation: A Hope-Filled Ecology. The Canterbury Statement

An important Agreed Statement on ecology was published by the Anglican Communion and the Orthodox Churches on Monday 18 October. This is the work of the International Commission for Anglican–Orthodox Theological Dialogue (ICAOTD), which brings together theologians from around the world from both families of Churches. The text was completed in a meeting at Canterbury Cathedral.

Stewards of Creation: A Hope-Filled Ecology sets out a distinctive way to speak of our place in the created order. It builds on the Commission’s previous work, In the Image and Likeness of God: A Hope-Filled Anthropology, and considers the implications of the Christian understanding of the human person for how we should live as part of creation.  This report speaks an important message at a time of great urgency. The environmental crisis deepens, and there is a deep need for everyone to enrich their sense of the givenness and beauty of God’s world.

The Rt Revd Richard Clarke is Co-Chair of the Commission and Metropolitan Athenagoras of Belgium (Ecumenical Patriarchate) is the Orthodox Co-Chair. Together they said, ‘In this statement we call on all people, in the light of our agreement, to be filled with wonder and gratitude to God for the gift of creation, and to exercise true restraint in our use of the power that God gives to humanity, so that we may properly and reverently safeguard God’s creation.’

Stewards of Creation is available on Amazon in Europe, North America and Japan, and may also be downloaded from the Anglican Communion website at www.anglicancommunion.org

Visit of the President of Ukraine Mr. Volodymyr Zelensky to the Ecumenical Patriarchate


On 16 October 2020, the President of Ukraine, Mr. Volodymyr Zelensky, visited the Ecumenical Patriarchate where he was received with great honor. He was accompanied by his wife Mrs. Olena Zelenska and a large group of officials from the Presidency and the Government of Ukraine, the Ambassador of Ukraine to Ankara Mr. Andrii Sybiha and the Consul General of the country in Istanbul, Mr. Oleksandr Gaman.

Upon their arrival, they visited the Patriarchal Cathedral, where His Eminence Metropolitan Emmanuel of France presided over a prayer service for the Ukrainian people. Then President Zelensky was received in the Patriarchal Office by His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. During their cordial special meeting, President Zelensky invited His All-Holiness to pay an official visit to Ukraine in 2021, on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the independence of Ukraine. Continue reading

In Memoriam Metropolitan Gennadios of Italy and Malta (1937-2020)


On 16 October 2020, His Eminence Metropolitan Gennadios of Italy and Malta has fallen asleep in the Lord.

Gennadios, aka Tsampìcos Zervós, was born in Kremastì on the island of Rhodes on 8 July 1937. He studied theology at the Halki Theological School in Istanbul. He was ordained deacon on 16 April 1960 by the then Metropolitan of Rhodes Spyridon in the Holy Monastery of the Holy Trinity in Halki and was then sent by the Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras to Italy, to Naples, to continue his postgraduate studies. There, he presented a doctoral thesis in theology on “The Contribution of the Ecumenical Patriarchate for Christian Unity”, which was the first historical work written in a Catholic University by a Greek Orthodox cleric.

For ten years he taught Patristic Theology at the Institute of Saint Nicholas in Bari. During his fifty-year service in Italy, he brilliantly and effectively developed pastoral activities in the ecclesiastical, spiritual and social field, thanks to which he received as recognition, by the authorities of the Italian Republic, the decoration of Grand Official. He actively participated, as a representative of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, in numerous scientific conferences and ecclesiastical events. Continue reading

WCC remembers Protopresbyter of the Ecumenical Throne Boris Bobrinskoy

Protopresbyter Boris Bobrinskoy, one of the best-known Orthodox theologians in France and a former member of the World Council of Churches (WCC) Faith and Order Commission, passed away in Paris in the night from 6 to 7 August at the age of 95.

He was highly respected for the contributions he made to ecumenical dialogues and academic institutions over many decades. In a tribute published in its website, the WCC celebrated Bobrinskoy’s “long and impressive ecumenical pilgrimage.”

Professor of Dogmatic Theology at the St Sergius Orthodox Theological Institute in Paris for over 50 years and long-time responsible for the Orthodox participation in the Institute for Ecumenical Studies, created by the Catholic Institute of Paris, he also taught at the Protestant University of Neuchâtel and the Catholic University of Paris.

The World Council of Churches (WCC) mourns the loss of Protopresbyter Boris Bobrinskoy, one of the best-known Orthodox theologians in France, and pays tribute to a highly appreciated ecumenical companion who deepened in his writings “the silence of the Father, whose mercy is the eternal source of authentic love and true unity.” Continue reading

Ecumenical Review focuses on Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church

The latest issue of The Ecumenical Review, the quarterly journal of the World Council of Churches (WCC), focuses on the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church, held in Crete in June 2016, the result of more than a century of efforts to gather the Orthodox churches to reach a common mind on the main challenges they face.

“Looking back on the 20th‐century history of the efforts that led to the Holy and Great Council, these were intertwined with the development of the ecumenical movement itself,” editor Stephen G. Brown writes in the opening editorial to the issue, which offers reflections by Orthodox leaders and scholars writing from a range of perspectives about the Holy and Great Council.

This year also marks the 25th anniversary of the ecumenical encyclical Ut unum sint (That they may be one) of Pope John Paul II, and the issue includes the lecture to mark the anniversary by the WCC’s former WCC general secretary Most Rev. Olav Fykse Tveit, to the Institute for Ecumenical Studies at St Thomas Aquinas Pontifical University in Rome.

The Ecumenical Review is published four times a year by Wiley on behalf of the WCC.

New 2022 date decided for WCC 11th Assembly

The executive committee of the World Council of Churches (WCC) has approved a new date for the WCC 11th Assembly, which will now be held in Karlsruhe, Germany, from 31 August – 8 September 2022. Originally planned for 2021, the event was postponed by one year because of the gravity and uncertainties related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Inspired by the theme ‘Christ’s love moves the world to reconciliation and unity,’ our fellowship will come together as a whole in prayer and celebration in Karlsruhe,” said Rev. Prof. Dr Ioan Sauca, interim WCC general secretary.

“Being the most diverse Christian gathering of its size in the world, the assembly will be a unique opportunity for the churches to deepen their commitment to visible unity and common witness,” Sauca said. “We will draw renewed energy for the WCC’s work far beyond the event itself.” Continue reading

Muslim leaders in solidarity with WCC’s urgent calls to keep Hagia Sophia a place of openness

On 11 July, World Council of Churches (WCC) interim general secretary Rev. Prof. Dr Ioan Sauca sent a letter to the Turkish president expressing “grief and dismay,” noting that since 1934, “Hagia Sophia has been a place of openness, encounter and inspiration for people from all nations and religions.”

The letter generated widespread reactions from churches and the media—and also from Muslim leaders.

Sauca met online with H.E. Judge Mohamad Abdel Salam, general secretary of the Higher Committee of Human Fraternity (HCHF), special adviser of the Grand Imam of al Azhar Cheikh Ahmad al Tayeb, and special adviser of the Muslim Council of Elders.

A letter from the HCHF, signed by Abdel Salam, stated: “In recognition of the cultural and spiritual value of Hagia Sophia for humanity all over the world, we support your call to avoid divisions and to promote mutual respect and understanding among all religions, and it gives me pleasure to attach herewith a copy of the Higher Committee of Human Fraternity’s statement regarding this issue.” Continue reading