The official participation of the Greek Orthodox Church in the Ecumenical Movement began in 1925, at the Stockholm Conference on Life and Work, and since then it has never been discontinued. Today one of the five presidents of the World Council of Churches is a Greek Archbishop; there is an official representative of the Patriarch of Constantinople at the World Council of Churches headquarters and Orthodox members serve on practically all WCC commissions. And yet this Orthodox participation in the World Council of Churches remains a highly debated issue and divides the Orthodox themselves. Some of the Orthodox churches (the Church of Russia) have declined to join the Council, in some others (the Church of Greece) the discussion is going on concerning the possibility of participation, as well as its nature and meaning. Thus a kind of “agonizing reappraisal” of the Orthodox position in the Ecumenical Movement takes place and anyone interested in the future and the progress of the movement should make an effort to understand the true “dimensions” of this constant crisis. We shall attempt here to give it a very general and so to say “introductory” description.
Absolute Church Claim
Among the reasons of this crisis, the first to be mentioned is without doubt the very special doctrinal position of the Orthodox church, or to be more exact, the “absolute” character of her ecclesiology. A western ecumenical leader well acquainted with Eastern Orthodoxy describes it in the following terms: “The Orthodox Church differs from the Roman in her conception of how the authority and unity of the Church are expressed, but she is not less insistent that to her has been given by God the fulness, the ‘plenitude’ of Catholic faith and life, so that ...1
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