WCC reflects on way forward for mission and evangelism

The World Council of Churches Commission on World Mission and Evangelism (CWME) gathered in Helsinki, Finland on 16-22 May 2019 to evaluate and reflect on the Conference of World Mission and Evangelism that took place in Arusha (Tanzania) in March 2018 and its future work. The May 2019 CWME meeting was hosted by the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland (ELCF).

In opening remarks, Dr Agnes Aboum, moderator of the WCC Central Committee, reflected on what she described on as “landmark” conference in Arusha, which drew together more than 1,000 people and resulted in an Arusha Call to Discipleship. “There are themes in the Arusha conference that provide linkages with the Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace: discourses around the regions, countries and churches,” said Abuom. “Despite the intersection with the Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace, perspectives and approaches may differ.” Continue reading

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew to host International Summit on “Theological Formation and Ecological Awareness”

His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew will host the third Halki Summit from May 31st to June 4th, 2019. The summit will convene distinguished representatives of Orthodox theological schools and seminaries from all over the world, and focus on the theme of “Theological Formation and Ecological Awareness.” Some 50 delegates from over 40 institutions will be in attendance.

Halki Summit III is being organized as an inter-Orthodox working conference. Summit participants will hear addresses by prominent environmental theologians (Orthodox, Roman Catholic and Protestant), and will discuss ways that ecological awareness can be fostered and advanced in Orthodox institutions of higher learning throughout the world by means of courses and other programs related to creation care. The ultimate purpose will be to promote environmental sensitivity in the core curricula of theological institutions by continuing the spirit of dialogue and exchange expressed during the two previous summits, as well as the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s longstanding concern and ongoing initiatives over three decades for the protection of the natural environment. Continue reading

New Archbishops elected by the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate

Under the presidency of His All-Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, the Holy and Sacred Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate met at its regular session from 9 until 11 May 2019. During this meeting, several reports were reviewed and appropriate decisions were taken among which the election of the new archbishops of Australia and of America. Among other things, the appeal submitted by the Church actually in schism in North Macedonia was studied.

On 9 May 2019, the Holy and Sacred Synod proceeded to the election of Bishop Makarios of Christopolis as the new Archbishop of Australia, following the death of Archbishop Stylianos on 25 March 2019.

On 11 May 2019, the Holy and Sacred Synod proceeded to fill the vacated seat of the Archdiocese of America following the voluntary resignation of its shepherd, His Eminence Senior Archbishop Demetrios of America. Following the suggestion, permission and exhortation of His-All Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, the Holy Synod unanimously elected as Archbishop of America His Eminence Metropolitan Elpidophoros of Bursa, Abbot of the Holy Monastery of the Holy Trinity in Halki and Professor of the Theological Faculty of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki.

The Ecumenical Patriarch met the Primate of the Orthodox Church of Poland

On 3 May 2019, during his visit in Poland to take part in the Day of Remembrance of Holocaust victims murdered by the Nazi during World War II, His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew visited Warsaw. His Holiness was accompanied by His Eminence Metropolitan Emmanuel of France and the Archivist of the Patriarchal Archive Very Reverend Archimandrite Agathangelos Siskos.

After the doxology in the academic chapel of Saints Cyril and Methodius, His Beatitude Metropolitan Sawa of Warsaw and all Poland greeted the Ecumenical Patriarch expressing gratitude to God for the opportunity to meet His All-Holiness in the Paschal Week and trusting that his visit to Poland would prove to be fruitful. In response, His All-Holiness emphasized the very good, friendly relations between the two Primates, wishing him good health.

After dinner and rest, His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and His Beatitude Metropolitan Sawa visited the site of the church of the Saint Sophia actually in construction in Warsaw. This visit was the last point of the short stay of the Ecumenical Patriarch in Warsaw.

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew led the Walk of the Living in Auschwitz

The Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew led this year’s “Walk of the Living”, the supreme tribute taking place every year since 1988 in memory of the six million Jews exterminated by the Nazis in the Second World War, which took place in Auschwitz on 2 May 2019. The Ecumenical Patriarch addressed thousands of people from at least fifty-seven different countries, who participated in the walk. The Ecumenical Patriarch visited the sites where millions of people died, showing solidarity with the Jewish community all over the world who commemorate and honor the victims of the Holocaust.

A Greek parliamentary delegation was also present, headed by the Speaker of the Hellenic Parliament. Nikolaos Voutsis. At the end of the walk, the Ecumenical Patriarch and the Speaker of the Hellenic Parliament participated in the inauguration of the Permanent Greek Exhibition at the State Museum of Auschwitz on the victims of the Greeks in Auschwitz, the vast majority of which were Jews. The Greek Jewish community was brought to the verge of complete extinction during World War II, as thousands of Jewish people were transported from Thessaloniki, Veria, Corfu, Zante and many other cities, villages and islands to Auschwitz in the early 1940s. The vast majority of these Greek citizens died there in the hellish camp after enduring unspeakable conditions.

Statement of the Ecumenical Patriarchate on the attacks in Sri Lanka

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew expresses his horror at the terrorist attacks that took place on the day of Western Easter celebrations in churches and hotels in the greater area of the capital of Sri Lanka, Colombo, causing death to dozens of our fellow human beings and injuring hundreds.

His All-Holiness unambiguously condemns all acts of terror, as well as any act of hatred, violence and fundamentalism wherever they come from, and calls on everyone to work, through dialogue and in a spirit of mutual respect, to preserve the good of peaceful coexistence and co-operation.

The Holy and Great Church of Christ prays for the rest of the souls of the victims and expresses heartfelt condolences to their families, while wishing courage and a quick recovery to the injured. At the same time, she expresses her sympathy with and support for the local Roman Catholic Church, the Government and the people of Sri Lanka.

The Ecumenical Patriarch contacted the Metropolitan of Singapore, Constantine, and asked him to convey the above message of the Ecumenical Patriarchate to the Roman Catholic Community, the authorities and the Sri Lankan people as a whole.

WCC Permanent Committee on Consensus and Collaboration met in Lebanon

The World Council of Churches (WCC) Permanent Committee on Consensus and Collaboration  met from 5-10 April 2019 at the Patriarchal Monastery of Our Lady of Balamand in Lebanon. The Permanent Committee on Consensus and Collaboration, a committee of the WCC Central Committee, was formed to continue the authority, mandate, concerns and dynamics of the Special Commission for Orthodox Participation in the WCC; give advice and make recommendations to governing bodies during and between assemblies; facilitate and improve participation of the Orthodox in the entire life and work of the WCC; offer counsel and provide opportunity for action in matters of common interest; and give attention to matters of ecclesiology. Continue reading

The Ecumenical Patriarch’s Message of Sympathy for the Destructive Fire at the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew expressed to the Roman Catholic faithful of Paris and to the entire French nation – through letters addressed to the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Paris, Michel Aupetit, and to the President of the French Republic, Emmanuel Macron – his deep sorrow and sympathy for the destructive fire that occurred at the Notre Dame Cathedral, one of the most significant monuments attesting to the history and spiritual identity of the French capital.

His All-Holiness highlighted that the Notre Dame is not only a cathedral, but that it constitutes a visible “meeting point” of Christian faith and human ingenuity, a symbol of the common ideals of humanity, and a “voice” from which stems a resonant petition for peace and love.

The Patriarch prays for the speedy restoration of the historical cathedral, underscoring that “the world today is wounded, and it collectively lives a special mourning, which transcends confessional and religious affiliations.”

Working Group Meeting on Discipleship at the Ecumenical Institute of Bossey

A working group meeting on discipleship took place at the Ecumenical Institute of Bossey, Switzerland on 5-7 April 2019. Those gathered were continuing to follow up the World Council of Churches (WCC) Conference on World Mission and Evangelism held in Arusha, Tanzania in March 2018. They met at the Ecumenical Institute of Bossey to reflect on the Arusha Call, a document compiling ideas from more than 1,000 people gathered in Tanzania. The theme of the Conference on World Mission and Evangelism was “Moving in the Spirit: Called to Transforming Discipleship.” A tradition of the International Mission Council and the WCC Commission on World Mission and Evangelism, mission conferences are held roughly every decade.

The working group worked to point out fresh, innovative elements that the Arusha Call to discipleship is lifting up. The group also discussed the Arusha Call with an eye toward the WCC 11th Assembly in 2021. Participating in the meeting from the Ecumenical Patriarchate was the Very Reverend Second Patriarchal Deacon Nephon Tsimalis.

In memoriam Archbishop Stylianos of Australia (1935-2019)

The Archbishop of Australia Stylianos Harkianakis died following a lengthy illness in Sydney on 25 March 2019. He was born in Rethymno, on the island of Crete, Greece on 29 December 1935. He studied theology at the Theological School of Halki near Istanbul and graduated in 1958. He was ordained a deacon in 1957 and a priest in 1958. He completed postgraduate studies in systematic theology and the philosophy of religion at the University of Bonn in Germany from 1958 to 1966. He had among his professors Joseph Ratzinger (later Pope Benedict XVI). The subject of his doctoral thesis was “The Infallibility of the Church in Orthodox Theology”, analyzing the correlation between infallibility and conciliarity of the Church. Continue reading