Russian Orthodox Church calls boycotted Crete council ‘an important event’

 — July 22, 201622 juillet 2016

Orthodox leaders applaud June 24 during the Great and Holy Council of the Orthodox Church on the Greek island of Crete. Although the Moscow Patriarchate boycotted the event it called the council 'an important event.' Photo: Dimitrios Panagos, Greek American News Photo Agency
Orthodox leaders applaud June 24 during the Great and Holy Council of the Orthodox Church on the Greek island of Crete. Although the Moscow Patriarchate boycotted the event it called the council ‘an important event.’ Photo: Dimitrios Panagos, Greek American News Photo Agency
By Tom Heneghan, Religion News Service

The Russian Orthodox Church, whose boycott of a major summit of Orthodox Christian leaders in Crete last month threatened to slow down efforts to promote greater unity, has declared the meeting “an important event in the history of the conciliar process.”

The church’s synod, in its official reaction to the June 20-26 Holy and Great Council, also said the meeting could not be called “pan-Orthodox” because four of the 14 independent Orthodox member churches did not attend.

The Moscow Patriarchate, which represents between half and two-thirds of the world’s 300 million Orthodox, has been disputing the summit’s pan-Orthodox character since announcing its boycott in early June. Officials at the council said Russia’s Patriarch Kirill could not come to Crete because archconservatives in his ranks opposed it.

But the synod took a more positive approach by calling the session “an important event” and asking its theological commission to study the six documents the council approved and report back on its findings.

In the diplomatic way the Orthodox churches communicate with one another in public, these comments meant Moscow has not closed the door on further efforts to bring the churches closer together.

Unlike the Roman Catholic Church led by a single pope, Orthodoxy is a loose network of sovereign — the official word is “autocephalous” — member churches organized along national lines, each with its own leader.

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, the spiritual leader of the Orthodox based in Istanbul, has no administrative authority over the members. He championed the idea of the council to bring church leaders together at the highest level for the first time in more than 1,200 years.

The four absent churches — Antioch, Bulgaria, Georgia and Russia — stayed away because of disagreements with the documents drawn up for approval and a jurisdictional dispute between Antioch and Jerusalem.

Bartholomew insisted on going ahead with the council anyway because he felt the Orthodox churches, which had grown apart and somewhat isolated from one another during the turbulent 20th century, needed to revive their conciliar tradition and seek a more unified response to the challenges of the modern world.

“This sort of uneven evolution required a council to establish some fundamental guidelines for the Orthodox churches,” Fr. John Chryssavgis, council spokesman, told RNS after the summit.

No follow-up meeting was decided, but Romania offered to hold the next summit in seven years.

“There will no doubt be more opportunities for such councils,” Chryssavgis said. “Hopefully these will not take as long to prepare and organize.”

Posted: July 22, 2016 • Permanent link:
Categories: RNSIn this article: Great and Holy Council, Russian Orthodox, synods
Transmis : 22 juillet 2016 • Lien permanente :
Catégorie : RNSDans cet article : Great and Holy Council, Russian Orthodox, synods

Anglicans and Mennonites enter ecumenical dialogue

 — July 18, 201618 juillet 2016

Willard Metzger, executive director of Mennonite Church Canada, addresses members of the Anglican Church of Canada's General Synod 2016. Photo: Art BabychFor the first time in its history, the Anglican Church of Canada will enter into a bilateral ecumenical dialogue with Mennonite Church Canada (MC-Canada) following a motion passed at General Synod, July 12.

The motion’s mover, Bruce Myers, coadjutor bishop of the diocese of Quebec and former coordinator of ecumenical relations for the national church, explained that as the Anglican church’s relationship to mainstream society changes, it could benefit from talking to a church that has always had a fraught relationship with the mainstream.

“Mennonites have often existed as a church on the margins, both historically and in the contemporary Canadian context,” he noted. “As the Anglican Church of Canada enters a new stage of its life, some of us have been asking if there is something we can learn from our Mennonite sisters and brothers, about living faithfully as disciples of Jesus on the margins of society.”

Myers said the bilateral dialogue would be based on a new approach to ecumenism based not on an attempt to minimize differences, but to receive it as a “gift.”

This “receptive ecumenism” is a way for churches to learn from the differences in each other’s theology and lived experience, without feeling the need to push toward reunion or a full communion relationship.
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Mennonite Church decisions at Assembly 2016

 — July 12, 201612 juillet 2016

Mennonite Church CanadaAssembly 2016 held in Saskatoon from July 6-10 may become known as a watershed year by delegates in attendance.

By turns intense and emotional, joyful and worshipful, the gathered made significant decisions that will impact the Mennonite Church Canada body of Christ for years to come.

On Thursday evening, delegates voted in favour of repudiating the Doctrine of Discovery – a settler teaching that has marginalized and taken rights away from indigenous people for centuries. While much education on the Doctrine of Discovery has already begun among congregations, much more is required.

On Saturday morning, 85% of delegates voted in favour of the Being a Faithful Church (BFC) recommendation to create space and test alternative understandings to traditional beliefs on committed same-sex relationships. Congregations who are asked to bless same sex marriages will now be given space to do so, even as the national family of faith continues testing to see if such discernment is a nudging of the Spirit of God.
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U.S. churches to Russia: We’re not leaving

 — July 12, 201612 juillet 2016

Saint Basil's Cathedral in Moscow, Russia, 2007. Photo: Bart Slingerland, Wikimedia CommonsSeveral American-based religious denominations remain defiant in the face of new laws that would ban them from proselytizing in Russia.

The so-called “Yarovaya laws” make it illegal to preach, proselytize or hand out religious materials outside of specially designated places. The laws also give the Russian government wide scope to monitor and record electronic messages and phone calls.

The package of laws, billed as anti-terrorism measures, were passed by the Russian Duma, or parliament, on June 24, and signed by Russian president Vladimir Putin on July 7.

The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, a bipartisan government panel which makes policy recommendations, condemned the new laws.

“These deeply flawed anti-terrorism measures will buttress the Russian government’s war against human rights and religious freedom,” Thomas J. Reese, a Jesuit priest and chair of the commission said after the measures were passed. “They will make it easier for Russian authorities to repress religious communities, stifle peaceful dissent, and detain and imprison people.”
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Vatican, al-Azhar officials look to kick-start joint talks, cooperation

 — July 12, 201612 juillet 2016

Pope Francis exchanges gifts with Ahmad el-Tayeb, grand imam of Egypt's al-Azhar mosque and university, during a private meeting at the Vatican May 23. Photo: APThe Vatican and Sunni Islam’s leading institution of higher learning have begun looking for ways to restart formal dialogue.

Acting on Pope Francis’ expressed desire, the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue was sending a top-level official to Cairo to visit al-Azhar University, the council said in a written press release July 12.

Spanish Bishop Miguel Ayuso Guixot, secretary of the pontifical council, will attend a “preliminary meeting” July 13 with Mahmoud Hamdi Zakzouk, a member of the university’s Council of Senior Scholars and director of the al-Azhar Center for Dialogue. Archbishop Bruno Musaro, the apostolic nuncio to Egypt, was to also attend the meeting.

The meeting, which was requested by the pontifical council following the pope’s “expressed desire, will evaluate how to begin the resumption of dialogue between the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and al-Azhar University,” the press release said.

The encounter follows the landmark meeting at the Vatican May 23 between Pope Francis and the university’s grand imam, Ahmad el-Tayeb.
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Saskatoon’s Bishop Don Bolen appointed Archbishop of Regina

 — July 11, 201611 juillet 2016

Bishop Don Bolen, seen here at a confirmation in 2015, was appointed today as Archbishop of ReginaPope Francis has named Bishop Donald Bolen of Saskatoon, Sask., as the new archbishop of Regina.

Archbishop Bolen’s appointment was announced July 11 at the Vatican. He succeeds Archbishop Daniel Bohan, who died in January.

Archbishop Bolen is known nationally and internationally for his work promoting Christian unity. From 2001 to 2008 he worked at the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity at the Vatican, before returning to Regina in 2009. Since his return, he has served as a bishop member of the Christian unity council and as co-chair of the International Anglican-Roman Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission. Since 2013 he has served as co-chair of the Joint International Commission for Dialogue between the World Methodist Council and the Roman Catholic Church.

Speaking of his new appointment, Archbishop Bolen, who was ordained a priest in Regina and served as archdiocesan vicar general and chair of the archdiocesan ecumenical commission, said: “To be moved from the Diocese of Saskatoon is painful, because it has been such a grace-filled experience to live and to serve here as bishop, but, at the same time, to move to the Archdiocese of Regina is to go home. I am profoundly grateful to remain in my home province.”
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Indigenous Anglicans outline features of ‘confederacy’

 — July 10, 201610 juillet 2016

National Indigenous Anglican Bishop Mark MacDonald and members of the Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples (ACIP) discuss the features of a self-determining Indigenous Spiritual Ministry. Photo: Art BabychIndigenous Anglicans took another step on the road toward self-determination July 10 when General Synod received two documents presenting the goals, objectives and features of a fully Indigenous province within the Anglican Church of Canada.

In a PowerPoint presentation titled Unique Features of an Indigenous Province: The Confederacy of the Indigenous Spiritual Ministry, Indigenous ministries co-ordinator Canon Virginia “Ginny” Doctor outlined 13 qualities a self-determining Indigenous Spiritual Ministry should have.

While some of the features were fairly aspirational long-term goals, such as “better relationships between Indigenous communities and with settler communities,” and “high value on elders and youth,” others were more immediate.
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