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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 4 Negotiating Orthodox discomfort towards ecumenism

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CHAPTER 4

Negotiating Orthodox discomfort towards ecumenism

‘Basic Principles of Attitude to the Non-Orthodox’

Orthodox Churches have very rarely taken the risk of issuing official statements with regard to their position on ecumenism and relations with the other Christian Churches. This has remained very much a field wherein Orthodox theologians and scholars expressed their positions and understandings without their views being either sanctioned or contradicted by their local Churches. For this reason, when in August 2000 the Bishops’ Council of the Russian Orthodox Church adopted the document entitled ‘Basic Principles of Attitude to the Non-Orthodox’ it had a great impact on the ecumenical circles of the time, and it still can be considered a seminal document for the ecumenical movement. This official Church statement bore all the more weight coming from the largest Orthodox Church, and one that had been particularly active and influential in the ecumenical context at the beginning of the 2000s – particularly immediately before and during the work of the Special Commission on Orthodox Participation in the WCC. After criticism from the Orthodox Churches toward the WCC had reached a peak at the meeting of Eastern Orthodox Churches in May 1998, in Thessaloniki, the eighth WCC Assembly in Harare, Zimbabwe (December 1998) was compelled to set up a Special Commission on the Participation of Orthodox Churches in the WCC, a body with equal parti-cipation from the Orthodox Churches and the other member Churches – half of the participants being...

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