Worldwide Faith News (press release)
May 4 2004
Ecumenical Patriarch to cooperate and support
WCC Media <[email protected]>
Date Tue, 04 May 2004 11:36:51 +0200
World Council of Churches 7 Press Update
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – 04/05/2004 – pu-04-25
Istanbul: Ecumenical Patriarch assures WCC of continued cooperation
Cf. WCC Upcoming Events May 2004 of 23 April 2004
“You are at home here,” were the words used by His All Holiness
Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew to welcome the World Council of
Churches (WCC) general secretary, Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia, on Saturday 1
Kobia was beginning his first visit to the Ecumenical Patriarchate of
Constantinople since taking up his new post in January; the
Patriarchate enjoys a “primacy of honour” among the Orthodox churches,
related to the ancient status of Constantinople as capital of the
Eastern Roman Empire.
In his welcome, the Ecumenical Patriarch said that, as one of the
founding members of the WCC in 1948, the Ecumenical Patriarchate “has
always collaborated fully” and “will continue to work within the WCC
towards the unity of the church”.
Recalling that “We have worked closely with your predecessors and will
continue to do so,” he assured the WCC general secretary of his
prayers and support, and encouraged him to visit the Patriarchate
regularly in coming years.
In recent years, the Ecumenical Patriarchate has given strong support
to the work of the Special Commission on Orthodox Participation in the
WCC, established in 1998 following mounting criticism of the WCC from
several Orthodox member churches.
Kobia highlighted “the pioneering role of the Ecumenical Patriarchate
in the areas of ecology and interreligious relations,” and said that
it is “an important source of inspiration for all of us”.
Welcoming the new WCC general secretary during a Monday morning
meeting with the Patriarchate’s Synodical Commission on Inter-Church
Affairs, the president of the Commission, Metropolitan Prof. Dr
Athanassios of Helioupolis and Theiron, expressed joy that Kobia will
be bringing “African spirituality, culture and traditions to the
Council’s life and activities”.
For his part, Metropolitan Prof. Dr Gennadios of Sassima recalled that
as “the first major ecumenical gathering of the 21st century”, the
WCC’s ninth assembly in 2006 “should strengthen the call for unity and
renew the commitment to the fellowship of churches”.
Spirituality and ecumenical formation were evoked by Kobia and members
of the Commission – the highest decision-making body of the
Patriarchate on ecumenical relations – as being at the heart of the
WCC’s ongoing work and programmes. The Commission members and the WCC
visitors agreed that dealing only with structures without spirituality
could become “a meaningless exercise”. The need to “enlarge the circle
of younger ecumenists prepared to face the challenges of ecumenism in
the 21st century” was also affirmed.
On Monday afternoon, the WCC general secretary visited the Orthodox
School of Theology of Halki. Although the school has been closed since
1971, much hope and strenuous efforts have been directed towards its
The WCC visit ended today with a courtesy visit to the Armenian
Patriarch of Istanbul and all Turkey, His Beatitude Mesrop II.
The delegation, which was accompanied by Archimandrite Benedikt
(Ioannou), the permanent representative of the Ecumenical Patriarch to
the WCC, was composed of Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia, general secretary, Mr
Georges Lemopoulos, deputy general secretary, and Ms Sabine Udodesku,
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