DIALOGUE AMONG CHRISTIANS AND ORTHODOX PARTICIPATION IN THE ECUMENICAL MOVEMENT
Since the early years of the last century, the Orthodox Church has been actively engaged in dialogue with other Christians. Orthodox Christians believe that the purpose of conversation with other Christians is twofold: First, to identify differences in teaching and worship among those who claim Christ as Lord and Savior, to clarify disagreements and work to overcome, if possible, all errors and divisions; and second, to cooperate in doing good works where such cooperation for the good of humanity – such as feeding the hungry, aiding the poor, settling refugees, etc. – is possible and desirable.
In doing this, Orthodox Christians are following the example of their Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, who conversed with the Samaritan woman at the well (known in our tradition as St. Photini) and even drank water from the cup she offered Him, contrary to all Jewish law and practice of His time, because Samaritans were:
1.) heretics who did not worship at the Temple in Jerusalem but had set up their own Temple in Samaria; and
2.) not a part of the chosen people but an ethnically different stock than the people of Israel.
Heretic and sinner that she was in the eyes of the Judaism of her time, we believe that her encounter with Christ Jesus led her to holiness and eternal life. Orthodox Christians must act as did our Lord Jesus, being willing to speak with anyone, knowing that the Holy Spirit may use even our poor witness to His glory. In doing so, we follow not only the example of our Lord but the witness of canonized saints such as Philaret of Moscow, Tikhon of Moscow, Nicholas of Zica and Nicholas of Japan.
An excellent introduction to the challenges and opportunities presented by the participation of Orthodox Christians in the ecumenical movement over the last century is:
This is an article written by Paraskevè (Eve) Tibbs a parishioner here at St. Paul's and a professor at Fuller Seminary in Pasadena, CA who also serves as a lay representative of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America to the National Council of Churches, based in New York.
Another excellent resource is the collection of numerous articles on Orthodox participation in the Ecumenical Movement – and the internal debate within Orthodoxy as to the value of such participation – is found at the website of the Orthodox Peace Fellowship and is entitled:
This resource, compiled by Peter Bouteneff, a professor at St. Vladimir's Seminary in New York and Jim Forest, a well-known writer and lecturer, contains the texts of foundational ecumenical documents such as the 1920 Encyclical of the Ecumenical Patriarchate addressed "To the Churches of Christ everywhere" as well as articles by leading Orthodox theologians such as Fathers John Meyendorff and Thomas Hopko, both of whom have served as deans of St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Seminary in New York.
“. . . AND THEY WILL BE GOD’S PEOPLES” -
HOMILY FOR THE ORANGE COUNTY SERVICE FOR THE WEEK OF PRAYER FOR CHRISTIAN UNITY by Valerie Karras on Sunday, January 24th, 1999. The event was hosted by St. Paul's for all Christian churches in Orange County.
Protestant and Orthodox Christian Ecumenical Dialogue
Orthodoxy and Evangelicalism: The Status of an Emerging Global Dialogue by Bradley Nassif.
Roman Catholic and Orthodox Christian Ecumenical Dialogue
Perhaps the most significant event of the 20th century for the improvement of the relationship between the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Churches was the lifting of the anathemas of 1054 by the late Patriarch Athenagoras of Constantinople and Pope Paul VI on December 7, 1965. Below is the joint text read simultaneously in Rome by Pope Paul VI at the Second Vatican Council and in a special ceremony at the Phanar in Constantinople, removing the excommunications of 1054 from the memory of the Church and committing them to oblivion.
This action laid the groundwork for genuine dialogue between these two communities of faith for the first time in hundreds of years. In 1979, after years of preparation and meetings between representatives of the two churches, an international commission for theological dialogue was established by the late Pope John Paul II (+2005) and the late Ecumenical Patriarch Demetrios (+1992). This commission has produced four documents. The texts of these documents are given below.
Roman Catholic and Orthodox Christians have been in dialogue with one another here in the United States for almost four decades. These dialogues have produced a number of “Agreed Statements” or joint declarations of common belief by the theologians and bishops participating on both sides. Although there are significant issues that still divide Roman Catholic and Orthodox Christians, there are many things that we agree upon and hold in common, even after nearly a millennium of separation.
At the link below are given some of texts of the Agreed Statements produced over the years by the U.S. Roman Catholic/Orthodox Christian Theological Consultation that meets twice each year in a variety of locales.
The Orthodox Church and the Papacy
The Role of the Papacy in the Church of Christ: Answers to Some Questions. by Father Steven Tsichlis
Papal Primacy by Father Emmanuel Clapsis