Delegation of the Ecumenical Patriarchate to the 11th Assembly of the WCC in Karlsruhe

The Delegation of the Ecumenical Patriarchate to the 11th Assembly of the World Council of Churches, presently taking place in Karlsruhe (Germany) from 31 August until 8 September 2022, is headed by Elder Metropolitan Emmanuel of Chalcedon (Turkey) and composed of Metropolitan Iosif of Buenos Aires (Argentina), Metropolitan Job of Pisidia (Turkey), Bishop Athenagoras of Nazianzos (USA), Grand Synkellos Iakovos Krochak (Turkey), Archimandrite Stefan Toma (Germany), Protopresbyter Nicolas Kazarian (USA), Patriarchal Deacon Œcumenius Amanatidis (Turkey), Mr. Dionysios Bozikis (Australia), Mrs. Eleni Cho (Korea), Mrs. Kristina Mantasasvili (Greece), Mrs. Sofiya Maskat (Canada), Mrs. Marie Panayotopoulos (Austria), Mr. Georgios Vlantis (Germany), Mrs. Natallia Vasilevich (Germany) and Mrs. Angeliki Ziaka (Greece).

Greeting of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew to the 11th Assembly of the World Council of Churches in Karlsruhe

Distinguished organizers and delegates, Beloved participants and stewards of the 11th Assembly of the World Council of Churches, Dear friends, brothers and sisters,

One of the core beliefs and central teachings of Christianity through the centuries is the conviction that the light of Christ shines more brightly than any darkness in our hearts and in our world. We Christians affirm and declare that the joy of the resurrection radiates through and prevails over the suffering of the cross. This is what we maintain; this is what we preach; and this is what we proclaim to the whole world. Indeed, “if Christ had not been raised from the dead, then our message is meaningless and our faith is in vain” (1 Cor. 15.14). This is surely the underlying premise and focus of the theme of this assembly, which professes that “Christ’s love moves the world to reconciliation and unity.”

Yet, even as we look around, we are obliged to confess that we have not practiced – and continue to fall short of – what we have preached over twenty centuries. How can we reconcile our magnificent faith with our manifest failure?

The answer lies in the scriptural passage for this morning’s plenary, which takes place on September 1st, the day that Orthodox Christians since 1989 have dedicated to praying for the protection of God’s gift of creation and when Christians of all confessions and communions commit to advancing the ministry of creation care. In the Letter to the Colossians (1, 19–20), we read that: “In Christ all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether in heaven or on earth, making peace by the blood of the cross”.

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In memoriam Metropolitan Kallistos of Diokleia (1934-2022)

His Excellency Metropolitan Kallistos of Diokleia passed away on 24 August 2022, at the age of 87 years. He was an internationally renowned theologian and scholar of Orthodoxy and had great experience of ecumenism.

Metropolitan Kallistos was born Timothy Richard Ware on 11 September 1934 in Bath (England). He was educated at at Westminster School in London and Magdalen College in Oxford. He embraced the Orthodox Christian faith in 1958. He became an Orthodox monk at the Monastery of Saint John the Theologian in Patmos, Greece. In 1966, he was tonsured as a monk and ordained to the priesthood within the Ecumenical Patriarchate. The same year, he became Spalding Lecturer at the University of Oxford in Eastern Orthodox studies, a position he held for 35 years until his retirement. In 1982, he was elected bishop of Diokleia as auxilary of the Archdiocese of Thyateira and Great Britain. In 2007, the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate elevated him titular metropolitan of Diokleia.

In addition to his pastoral and academic duties, Metropolitan Kallistos served as Co-Chair of the International Commission for Anglican-Orthodox Theological Dialogue from 2009 until 2016. He was also a member of the Joint International Commission for the Theological Dialogue between the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church. He served these Commissions with outstanding theological wisdom and with great joy and humour. He made an important contribution to the Ravenna Document published in 2007 by the Commission for the Theological Dialogue between the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church, as well to the Agreed Statement ‘In The Image and Likeness of God: A Hope-Filled Anthropology’ published in 2015 by the Commission for Anglican-Orthodox Theological Dialogue.

Metropolitan Kallistos was a prolific author and lecturer. Among his numerous books and articles, his best sellers are The Orthodox Church, first published in 1963, and The Orthodox Way, first published in 1979. He has collaborated in the English translation of the Philokalia (four volumes of five published as of 2018) and of Orthodox liturgical texts.

Archbishop Job of Telmessos promoted Metropolitan of Pisidia

The Holy and Sacred Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, at its regular session of 22 July 2022, has elected Archbishop Job of Telmessos as Metropolitan of Pisidia, with his see in Antalya (Turkey). He succeeds to His Eminence Metropolitan Sortirios (Trambas) who passed away last June 11, after having served as the first Metropolitan of Korea (1995-2008) and having revived the liturgical and pastoral life in the Holy Metropolis of Pisidia (2008-2022).

His Eminence Metropolitan Job of Pisidia was born in Montreal, Canada in 1974 and was serving until now as the Permanent Representative of the Ecumenical Patriarchate to the World Council of Churches (since 2015) and as Dean of the Institute of Post-Graduate Studies in Orthodox Theology in Chambésy-Geneva (since 2019). He is also the co-president of the Joint International Commission for the theological dialogue between the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church. He will be enthroned in the Church of Saint Alypios the Stylite in Antalya on 17 September 2022.

Inter-monastic Ecumenical Meeting in Sankt-Niklausen in Switzerland

About fifty people met in Sankt-Niklausen, homeland of Nicolas de Flue, in the center of Bethanien, for the 38th “International and Interfaith Meeting of religious men and women” (EIIR), from July 6 to 12, 2022. This year marked the jubilee of this ecumenical association which changed its name. From now on it will be called “Synaxis”. On this occasion a richly illustrated book was published, tracing its history, with some key conferences.

To reflect on this year’s theme, “the consecrated life at the service of Christian Unity”, several lectures were given, among others, by Fr. Hyacinthe Destivelle (Vatican), Archbishop Job of Telmessos (Ecumenical Patriarchate), Sister Anne-Emmanuelle of Grandchamp, Mother Gabriela of Romanian monastery of Voronets, Dom Michel Van Parys (Chevetogne), Fr. Claude Ducarroz, Fr. Guido Vergauen (Institute for Ecumenical Studies, Fribourg) and Pastor Jean-Philippe Calame (Evangelical Reformed Church of Neuchâtel). Among the Orthodox participants there was also Metropolitan Athenagoras of Belgium (president of the EIIR), Metropolitan Seraphim from the Orthodox Church of Romania in Germany, and Fathers Philadelphos Kafalis and Emilianos Chatzivasiliou from the Holy Metropolis of Belgium.

The conference was also an opportunity to remember the founders of these meetings: the Orthodox Metropolitan Emilianos Timiadis (Ecumenical Patriarchate) and Father Julian Garcia Hernando, Spanish Catholic. Their meeting was decisive and the result was the creation of “Encuentro International e Interconfesional de Religiosas y de Religiosos” (EIIR) where they linked deep friendships with communities across Europe. The importance of religious life for Christian unity had clearly become a priority for them.

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.