Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Ecumenical Patriarch calls for "ecumenical solidarity"

(EP) - The Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew delivered a public address at the Ecumenical Centre in Geneva on 24 April 2017 as part of his official visit to Switzerland on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of his enthronement as Ecumenical Patriarch and the 50th anniversary of the Orthodox Centre of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Chambésy.

In his wide-ranging exhortation to the audience, the patriarch discussed the reasons for and accomplishments of the recent Holy and Great Council, convoked in Crete in June 2016, the role of science and technology in contemporary society, the theological imperative of tackling climate change, the plight and prospects of children today, the importance of countering human trafficking and modern slavery, and the need for all Christians to engage those issues in practical ways.

Uniting all these issues, “We must all work together for the promotion of a culture of solidarity, respect for others, and dialogue. Together with the sensitization of consciences, we must participate in concrete initiatives and actions. We need a stronger mobilization on the level of action,” he said.

Reminding his audience that the Ecumenical Patriarchate was instrumental, almost one hundred years ago, in igniting the ecumenical movement and its quest for unity, Bartholomew cited milestones in the church’s and his own engagement with the WCC. Since 1955, the patriarchate has had permanent representation to the WCC in Geneva, currently led by Archbishop Job of Telmessos.

Central to Bartholomew’s range of concerns, the patriarch said, is the strong, ongoing commitment of the Orthodox churches to ecumenism.

“We Orthodox strongly believe that the aim and the raison d’ĂȘtre of the Ecumenical Movement and of the World Council of Churches is to fulfil the Lord’s final prayer, that ‘all may be one’ (Jn. 17:21), which is inscribed on the beautiful tapestry ornamenting the wall of this hall.
“For this reason, the Holy and Great Council stressed that ‘Orthodox participation in the movement to restore unity with other Christians in the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church is in no way foreign to the nature and history of the Orthodox Church, but rather represents a consistent expression of the apostolic faith and tradition in new historical circumstances.’”

Bartholomew, currently celebrating 25 years as Ecumenical Patriarch and Archbishop of Constantinople, was welcomed to the centre by Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, general secretary of the WCC.

Calling Bartholomew “one of the most respected church leaders of today” in his capacity as leader of the world’s Eastern Orthodox churches,” Tveit drew special attention to the patriarch’s strong moral voice and prophetic witness in the international arena, but also to ordinary Christians, including himself, everywhere.

“I was inspired by the clarity with which he was sharing the most basic and prophetic dimensions of our faith, sharing it with any audience, encouraging them to take the moral high ground in our care for humanity, for human rights, for justice and peace, but also – and particularly – for the whole of God’s creation on this planet earth where we all live,” Tveit said.

Responses to the patriarch’s address were presented by Tveit, WCC associate general secretary Prof. Dr Isabel Apawo Phiri and Archbishop Job.

For Tveit, the patriarch’s speech inspired a renewed reflection on the enduring quest and changing character of Christian unity—especially in its work in the world. “Why does what we do in this house and in these organizations inspired by the call to be one as churches have an added value for the human family?” he asked.

Tveit strongly affirmed the patriarch’s call for ecumenical solidarity.

“This way of being mutually accountable in our commitment to dialogue can lead us to liberation and help us to find sustainable new ways forward. The ecumenical dialogue can serve the world as a way of both the cross and the resurrection. Our shared faith in Jesus Christ is in its essence: hope.”

Noting the patriarch’s remarks about “the inviolable and nonnegotiable right” to water and his extraordinary leadership in the area of climate justice, Phiri singled out the consonant work of the WCC and the WCC’s designation in 2016 as a Blue Community for its efforts toward securing clean water and sanitation as a human right. In 2015, she recalled, the WCC urgently called for persons and communities to shun bottled water as a significant step toward water justice, and she urged churches to lead the charge against them.

Hailing the WCC’s Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace, Bartholomew reiterated its invitation to all member churches “to work together in a common quest, renewing the true vocation of the church through collaborative engagement with the most important issues of justice and peace, healing a world filled with conflict, injustice and pain.”


  1. Wow! It is time to anathematize him. He has attached himself irreversibly to the pan-heresy of ecumenism. He has embraced the heretical WCC more than traditional Orthodox Christians. He is a social justice warrior and a climate change activist. He has separated himself from holy Orthodoxy.

    One thing is consistent......he names everything that he feels are injustices on the planet earth.......except abortion.

    This is very very sad. It seems as if we are witnessing another Metaxakis.

  2. It's more clever than that, mikail02. It has an ambiguity about it that admits of both an Orthodox understanding and an heretical one. How long did the Eastern Patriarchs pass over in silence the ever-increasing jurisdictional claims of the Roman Church, along with western filioquism due to Frankish ignorance and the imprecision of Latin? Quite some time.

    Schisms are not easy to heal and excising a limb is the literal very last resort because of how traumatic it is to the body.

  3. Here is the money quote:

    “I was inspired by the clarity with which he was sharing the most basic and prophetic dimensions of our faith, sharing it with any audience, encouraging them to take the moral high ground in our care for humanity, for human rights, for justice and peace, but also – and particularly – for the whole of God’s creation on this planet earth where we all live,”

    It is an excellent summarization of secularism - the moral quest for improvement (if not perfection) of this world. Whether Jesus is risen, or whether He came at all, is only important in an ancillary sense.

    The life and project of the entire EP project is not just about an ecclesiastical heresy (though that is part of it), it is worse than that - it is about an attempted RC (i.e. Vatican II) style detente, compromise, and reconciliation with the entire underlying moral and ontological basis of modernity and secular man.

    Heresy is at least Christian in basis. I am not convinced that what the EP (and so much of Orthodoxy in NA and Europe - particularly our "theologians", seminary professionals, laity, and bishops) is attempting to do vis-a-vis modernity is Christian at all...

  4. I see now that the above quote was from Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, general secretary of the WCC, but Patriarch B. has spoken just like this in the past (in his last book for example) and the fact reamins that it is emblematic of Pat. B's outlook and philosophy...

  5. I suppose, Patriarch Cyrill should be excommunicated as well:

  6. Mike, that's not fair. The MP has been emphatic in his denunciation of abortion and --even better--has put in place and/or lobbied for actual governmental policies that would address the issue of abortion.

    That is in no ways on the EP's checklist. Even when it comes to making a general, anodyne statement about abortion all we get is "generally speaking, the Orthodox Church is against abortion".

    That's the thinnest of gruel.

    1. Yes despite all those "efforts" Russia has one of the highest abortion rates in the world, higher than most countries of the "evil" West.

      Maybe if HH Cyril threatened to excommunicate Putler and all MPs until they ban abortion (or at least limit it somehow) that would work. But that is never going to happen. He is just vocal.

  7. I can't fix the EP. I can watch my own heart, pray for my priest and bishops and speak up as necessary

    1. Well said. St. Paisios taught us the same. The EP has great authority in the Church to bind and loose and to define properly the holy faith when it is attacked, but when the man who holds this holy office errs in the faith, we must not follow him into error but must pray for him, correct ourselves, and speak when asked.

  8. For crying out loud, get this man a rake or a broom so he can salvage a shred of dignity for his life. Get him a job.

  9. One thing that we must do over and over is to say to those conditioned to the Papal model. The EP is not my leader! He does not speak for me! He has no authority over me!

    It is not rebellion to refuse the leadership of someone who has gone astray.

    1. Obedience to disobedience is itself disobedience. This much is true. However, for those who are spiritually under the office of the EP this is more difficult. The EP is the father and teacher of all the Orthodox-- the holy fathers gave this office a pastoral authority similar to that of the Papacy in the West. It does no good to say that he has "no" authority because that simply isn't true. He has a mediate, indirect authority, and this is primarily the bearing witness of the Orthodox faith to the world. Many holy men and canonists have defined this role for the EP, and to deny it or simply to say his (canonically limited) authority is to distort the truth as well. As early as the Fourth Century, St. Gregory the Theologian spoke of the two spiritual suns-- Rome and New Rome-- and that they were equal. This authority is not the direct, immediate, universal jurisdiction that later Popes would claim for themselves, but to say it is merely "primacy of honor" doesn't quite do the sacred canons justice, either.

      St. Paisios stayed with the EP. St. Joseph the Hesychast left the old calendarists in order to return to the jurisdiction of the EP after a vision that showed him that the Church was with the EP, even though the man himself was doing things not worthy of that office.