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10 May 2005
Christodoulos affirms ecumenical dialogue and renewed identity and mission
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The archbishop of Athens and all of Greece, His Beatitude Christodoulos, affirmed the need for ecumenical encounter and dialogue, as well as for a new articulation of Christian identity and mission in order to face contemporary challenges.
Addressing some 700 participants at the opening session of the 9-16 May Conference on World Mission and Evangelism, Christodoulos welcomed it as an "important and timely" event, in face of the "many and difficult challenges which confront all Christians today".
The head of the (Orthodox) Church of Greece emphasized the "determination to join our forces with other Christians in dialogue and common witness" in spite of the "past bitter experience from aggressive missionary activities and hostile actions" suffered by his church.
"We Orthodox do not only benefit from the ecumenical encounter and dialogue but also bring challenges coming from our history-long mission experience and our mission theology with echoes from the time of the early Christian communities," he said.
However, since the world today "is no longer the same as the world our church lived in in the past and developed her mission theology and praxis," Christodoulos acknowledged the "need for a new articulation both of our Christian identity and of our mission, without of course compromising our faith."
Among the new realities challenging churches today, he mentioned the growing effects of globalization, the increased movement of populations, the fact that societies everywhere are becoming multireligious, as well as the consequences of terrorism and the war on terror. All of them challenge churches to rediscover their prophetic voice.
"When peoples are more and more impoverished while the rich are becoming richer" while economic and political decisions are presented as "historically unavoidable," the church has to be "on the side of peace, the poor, the marginalized, and the powerless," he affirmed.
Christodoulos also highlighted the achievements of the Special Commission on Orthodox Participation in the WCC, and affirmed that "a new era in WCC-Orthodox relations is about to be inaugurated".
of the speech is available on the conference website at:
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Juan Michel,+41 22 791 6153 +41 79 507 6363
The World Council of Churches promotes Christian unity in faith, witness and service for a just and peaceful world. An ecumenical fellowship of churches founded in 1948, today the WCC brings together 349 Protestant, Orthodox, Anglican and other churches representing more than 560 million Christians in over 110 countries, and works cooperatively with the Roman Catholic Church. The WCC general secretary is Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, from the [Lutheran] Church of Norway. Headquarters: Geneva, Switzerland.