04 March 2011, Geneva:
A week-long inter-Orthodox consultation with the aim of studying the
Faith and Order document “The Nature and Mission of the Church” began
its work on Thursday 3 March in Ayia Napa, Cyprus. The aim of the
consultation is to offer distinctly Orthodox insights as part of a
world-wide discussion of the doctrine of the Church, or “ecclesiology”.
The gathering is hosted by the Orthodox Church of Cyprus.
Nearly forty participants from Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Churches,
church leaders, university professors, theologians, men and women as
well as youth, most of whom are members of the World Council of Churches
(WCC) Commission on Faith and Order, will discuss the document and
produce a common Orthodox response to this important theological text.
After a Te Deum celebrated by Archbishop Chrysostomos II of Cyprus in
the historic monastery of Ayia Napa, Metropolitan Prof. Dr Gennadios of
Sassima, co-moderator of the consultation, expressed gratitude to the
archbishop for his generous hospitality, extended regularly to
inter-Orthodox and ecumenical gatherings, and highlighted the
archbishop’s life-long struggle to overcome dividing lines, in his own
country and elsewhere in the world.
Unfortunately, Metropolitan Gennadios added, “walls of separation and
division still exist in the world and one of our priorities as Orthodox
is to continue our struggle for peace, reconciliation and friendship
among peoples and nations.”
Archbishop Chrysostomos underlined the importance of the theme.
“Orthodox theology is primarily ecclesiological,” he said. “Christianity
cannot be understood except as the church”.
By his incarnation, the archbishop continued, Christ made all human
beings part of his own body. Orthodox contributions to ecumenical
theological reflection consist in the fact that Orthodoxy, rather than
defending a “confessional” interpretation of ecclesiology, shares the
existential experience of the church.
Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, the WCC general secretary, expressed
appreciation both to Archbishop Chrysostomos for his hospitality, which
is a tangible sign of his ecumenical commitment, and to Metropolitan Dr
Vasilios of Constantia-Ammochostos, moderator of the Faith and Order
Commission, for hosting the consultation in his diocese and for his many
contributions to the work of Faith and Order.
The general secretary referred to the work of the Special Commission on
Orthodox Participation in the WCC a decade ago and stressed the Orthodox
contribution to both ecclesiological reflection in general and to the
ecclesial character of the fellowship of the World Council of Churches
The general secretary concluded by reminding participants of the
forthcoming peace convocation in Kingston, Jamaica. “Our task will be to
affirm that we aim at being one, so that the world may believe that a
just peace is possible. We know that in this island there is a struggle
for justice and peace. It is as part of our journey towards unity and
common witness that we participate in this struggle.”