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.

The Church of Ohrid restored into eucharistic communion

The Holy and Sacred Synod convened on Monday May 9, 2022, under the chairmanship of His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, and discussed extensively the ecclesiastical matter of Skopje. Having assessed in its final stage the petition of appeal of that Church to the Mother Church, along with the repeated pleas of the State of North Macedonia, it made the following decisions:

1. It welcomes into eucharistic communion the Hierarchy, clergy and laity under Archbishop Stefan of this Church, thereby healing the wound of schism and pouring “oil and wine” on the ordeal of our Orthodox brethren in that country. To this end, the appropriate Patriarchal and Synodal Act is issued.

2. It cedes to the Most Holy Church of Serbia the regulation of the administrative matters between itself and the Church in North Macedonia, in the context of course of the sacred canonical order and church tradition.

3. It recognizes “Ohrid” as the name of this Church (understood as the region of its jurisdiction solely within the boundaries of the territory of the state of North Macedonia), as also promised in writing to the Ecumenical Patriarchate by its Primate. Thereby excluding the term “Macedonian” and any other derivative of the word “Macedonia.”

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The sanctification of Holy Chrism at the Ecumenical Patriarchate

The sanctification of Holy Chrism took place with special splendor and solemnity in the morning of Holy Thursday, 21 April, 2022, at the Ecumenical Patriarchate during the Patriarchal and Synodal Divine Liturgy, presided by His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew in concelebration with the members of the Holy and Sacred Synod.

Holy Chrism is consecrated on Holy Thursday about every ten years at the Ecumenical Patriarchate for use in the sacrament of Holy Chrismation, for the reception of Christian converts joining the Orthodox Church and for the consecration of holy churches and altars. For more than a millennium, this sacred ceremony is taking place at the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the first throne of world Orthodoxy, with the presence of representatives from different local Orthodox Churches, thus manifesting the bond of unity all Orthodox Christians throughout the world.

The General Secretary of the Conference of European Churches at the Ecumenical Patriarchate

On 31 March, 2022, the General Secretary of the Conference of European Churches, Dr Jørgen Skov Sørensen, visited the offices of the Ecumenical Patriarchate at the Phanar, in Istanbul. The General Secretary of the CEC, accompanied by the Executive Secretary for Theological Dialogue, Mrs. Katerina Pekridou, was received by the His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and had the opportunity to discuss current issues, with emphasis on the dramatic developments in Ukraine, as well as the preparation of the General Assembly of CEC, which is scheduled for June 2023 in Tallinn, Estonia.

Ecumenical Patriarch visited Ukrainian refugees in Poland

On 27 March, 2022, His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, accompanied by His Eminence Elder Metropolitan Emmanuel of Chalcedon and the Very Reverend Grand Syncellus Iakovos Krochak, traveled to Poland to meet Ukrainian refugees at the invitation of the President of the Republic of Poland, His Excellency Andrzej Duda, and the Primate of the Orthodox Church of Poland, His Beatitude Metropolitan Sawa of Warsaw. At the airport, His All-Holiness was met by His Beatitude Metropolitan Sawa, His Eminence Archbishop George of Wroclaw, and representatives of the Chancellery of the President of the Republic of Poland.

From the airport, the Ecumenical Patriarch went to the Orthodox Cultural Center, where he had a meeting with the clergy, faithful of the Church, refugees from Ukraine and the local Greek community for whom services are held in the chapel. After a short prayer for peace in the world and Ukraine, His Beatitude welcomed the Ecumenical Patriarch on the Polish soil. He pointed to the spiritual ties which exist between the Church of Poland and the Ecumenical Patriarchate. The Patriarch, thanking for the welcome, addressed the refugees from Ukraine with cordial words and presented them gifts of aid. A dinner followed then at the Metropolitan’s Residence during which the situation of Orthodoxy in Poland, in the world, and especially in Ukraine was addressed.

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