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Orthodoxy and Ecumenism

Towards an Active <i>Metanoia<i>

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Razvan Porumb

This book explores the relationship between the Orthodox tradition and the ecumenical practice of engagement with other Christian traditions. This relationship has for a long time been compromised by an underlying tension, as the Orthodox have chosen to participate in ecumenical encounters while – often at the same time – denouncing the ecumenical movement as deficient and illegitimate. The author perceives this relationship to be even more inconsistent since the core of Orthodoxy as professed by the Orthodox is precisely that of re-establishing the unity and catholicity of the Church of Christ. This vision informs Orthodox identity as essentially a Church of exploration, of engagement and dialogue, a Church committed to drive all other traditions, but also itself back to the «right» primordial faith. The book exposes the risk of Orthodox theology turning into an oppositional picture of Orthodoxy as necessarily opposed to a heterodox antipode, rather than being the continuous dynamic reality of the living Church of Christ. The author proposes the rediscovery of a set of paradigms in an ethos of humble, active metanoia that would enable a more plenary ecumenical operation for the Orthodox as well as a renewed awareness of their own spirituality.
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Chapter 3 Problems faced by Orthodoxy vis-à-vis ecumenism

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CHAPTER 3

Problems faced by Orthodoxy vis-à-vis ecumenism

Having explored separately and in some detail in the first two chapters the concepts and realities of Orthodoxy/the Orthodox Church and ecumenism from the vantage point of ecumenical engagement, we will attempt now, in this third chapter, to address the interaction between these two realities, more specifically the way the Orthodox Church perceives ecumenism, its position vis-à-vis ecumenism, and its understanding of itself in relation to other Christian communities.

Since the Orthodox relation to ecumenism is so often referred to as a ‘problem’ or ‘crisis’, this predicament will now be examined alongside the Orthodox rationale that stands behind it. That is, the Orthodox Church’s view of itself as the ‘one, holy and catholic’ Church, and the implications such a position has for the way in which other Christians are perceived by the Orthodox.

The predicament

‘We, the Orthodox’, writes Romanian priest and scholar Ioan Sauca, director of the Ecumenical Institute of Bossey, Geneva,

might continue to affirm that the Orthodox Church is the Una Sancta as it has kept more integrally the fullness of the apostolic faith throughout the centuries. But in order to be faithful, coherent and accountable to our theology, we must have the courage to say that the other churches of the WCC fellowship, as they came together in fellowship by fully accepting and affirming the council’s theological ← 121 | 122 → basis, are...

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