International news

 — Dec. 31, 200131 déc. 2001

The Armenian Apostolic Church and the Republic of Armenia celebrated in 2001
the 1700th anniversary
of the acceptance of Christianity as the state religion in
301DCE. Armenians around the world are marking this event throughout the year. As part of
these celebrations, Orthodox, Catholics and Armenians came together in the Armenian
capital of Yerevan on September 23 for the consecration of the new cathedral of St.
Gregory the Illuminator. It was built thanks to contributions from the Armenian government
and donations from Armenians living abroad. Five million of eight million Armenians live
outside the country. An ecumenical celebration was also held in Etchmiadzin, the
headquarters of the church located about 30 kilometers from Yeveran. This event
strengthened the ties between the two Catholicosates of the Armenian Church: Etchmiadzin
(the Catholicosate of All Armenians) in Etchmiadzin Armenia and the Catholicosate of
Cilicia in Antelias, Lebanon. During his September 25-26 visit, Pope John Paul II said:
“My heart ardently desires to see the day when the celebration of the Divine
Sacrifice together makes of us all one entity.” The ecumenical patriarch of
Costantinople, Bartholomeo 1st, primus inter pares (first among equals) in the
Orthodox Church, also paid a visit at the end of October.

An historic accord between France’s main Protestant churches and the Anglican
churches of Britain and Ireland
was signed on July 1st. The Reuilly Common
commits the churches to sharing “a common life and mission” while
taking further steps toward “full visible unity.” The signatory churches are the
Reformed Church of France, Reformed Church of Alsace and Lorraine, the Church of the
Augsburg Confession of Alsace and Lorraine and the Evangelical Lutheran Church of France,
the Church of England, Church of Ireland, Scottish Episcopal Church and the Church in
Wales. The Reuilly accord allows for the exchange of pulpits between Protestant pastors
and Anglican priests and for intercommunion.

The more than 250 church communications experts attending the third congress of
the World Association for Christian Communication
(WACC) in the Netherlands this
past July, called on communicators to become the “voice of reconciliation” in a
world torn apart by violence. The congress delegates heard numerous accounts of conflict
and reconciliation from the four corners of a troubled world. Some of those who told of
violence in their countries challenged the participants to see themselves as peacemakers.
“We can easily become so taken up by the events we report, that we forget that our
mission is to report them,” said Randy Naylor, United Church of Canada pastor and
WACC secretary general.

An appeal not to “justify violence in the name of religion”
was made in the final statement of the congress entitled “Christians and Muslims
in Europe: Responsibility and Commitment in a Pluralist Society
,” held in
Sarajevo in September. The event was sponsored by the European Catholic bishops and by the
Council of the Churches of Europe which includes Orthodox, Anglicans, Evangelicals and
Lutherans. The grand mufti of Moscow and Sarajevo, as well as other Muslim religious
leaders and intellectuals also supported the meeting. The religious leaders proposed the
formation of youth “in knowledge and respect of other creeds and communities through
educational programs.” The participants encouraged priests, pastors, theologians and
Muslim representatives, as well as the laity, to promote “dialogue and interreligious
meetings through exchanges between faculties and Christian and Muslim seminaries.”
During the final hours of the congress, the debate was intense. The plenary assemblies
touched upon sensitive issues, such as the justification of violence by the Scriptures of
both religions. Monsignor Aldo Giordano, secretary-general of the Council of European
Episcopal Conferences, explained that dialogue between religions should preserve “our
identity.” “It is not relativism, but a dialogue that enriches us and enables us
to coexist,” he said.

The most important environmental protection NGO, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF),
hopes to enlist the aid of world religions. A meeting on “Religions and
, organised by WWF-France on October 11-12 at the Solan Monastery
near Avignon, brought together representatives of various French religious institutions:
Protestants, Catholics, Orthodox, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, etc. At Katmandu, in December
2000, the WWF had gathered eleven representatives of eleven world religions already active
in the practical implementation of environmental matters. The working meeting at the Solan
Monastery brought participants up to date on the state of the environment in different
religions and, as at Katmandu, looked for practical applications at grass-roots level.

The Ecumenical Parish Centre of Meyrin (Geneva), called “two churches
under one roof,”
has just celebrated it’s 25th anniversary. The idea for
this centre dates from the 1960’s when the Protestant and Catholic communities gathered in
two temporary wooden chapels. A survey taken in 1969 showed that a majority of the
faithful favoured a common centre and the CPOM was launched on May 8, 1976. Today, besides
offices and meeting rooms, the CPOM houses two chapels which can be combined into one for
joint celebrations.

The Catholic Community of Sant’Egidio called a Muslim-Christian summit in Rome,
October 3-4, to reaffirm after the attacks on New York and Washington, that it would be a
great mistake to talk of “wars of religion” or “battle between Islam and
Christianity.” Sheik Yusuf Al-Qaradawi insisted that Islam is a religion of peace
which condemns terrorism and the killing of innocent victims. This was also supported by
the grand mufti of Egypt, Nasser Farid Wasel and by Ezzedin Ibrahim, cultural counselor of
the Emir of the United Arab Emirates. Echoing what other Muslim representatives had said,
Yusuf Al-Qaradawi emphasized that “the real way to fight terrorism is to eliminate
it’s causes.” Mar Gregorios Yohanna Ibrahim, Syro-Orthodox Metropolitan of Syria
said: “Both Christianity and Islam teach peace, peace which is one of the names of
God; but this peace cannot come about without justice, because peace built on injustice
will not last.” In the evening of October 4, the Christians gathered to pray in the
basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere while the Muslims prayed in an adjoining room. Then,
as the bells rang and the crowd applauded, they came together and embraced. The Contact
Group created by the summit is “charged to organize other consultations to produce
materials and to pursue the points raised” in the summit.

An ecumenical chapel to be used by the head offices of the European Union
was inaugurated in an ecumenical ceremony in Brussels on September 25. The Chapel of the
Resurrection, in neoclassical style, containing a crypt and meeting rooms, is located
between the offices of the European Commission, the European Parliament and the Council of
Ministers. Though the re-opening of this chapel, built in 1908 and belonging to the
Jesuits, is a “Catholic initiative,” a press release from the ecumenical
association which manages it notes that it “is carried out in a spirit of ecumenical
openness” with the cooperation of Anglicans, Orthodox and Protestants. Ecumenical
prayers are offered everyday in the various languages of the European Union and Catholic,
Orthodox and Protestant religious services are held each week in the chapel.

The Joint Commission for theological dialogue between the Russian Orthodox
Church and the Eastern pre-chalcedonian churches
held its first meeting at the
St-Daniel Monastery in Moscow on September 4-5. It studied the activities of the
international commission of this dialogue with particular attention to the two statements
of shared faith signed at the 1989 and 1990 meetings. On September 5, the commission
members were received by Patriarch Alexis II, primate of the Russian Orthodox Church, who
wants to see their efforts crowned with success — “for the good of Christian
unity.” Begun at international level in 1960, the theological dialogue between the
Orthodox Church and the Oriental Orthodox Churches has shown that they have always
confessed the same faith. Still, as the conclusions of these agreements have lately been
called into question by some Russian Orthodox theologians, the Moscow Patriarch decided to
initiate a direct dialogue with the pre-chalcedonian churches.

The Foundation for French Protestantism, launched on October 18,
brought together several large Protestant institutions to finance and manage social and
cultural projects and schemes that promote international solidarity. The 17 founding
members together with a large constituency of Protestant bankers were able to raise the
original 5,000,000FF required by the authorities. According to French law, a foundation
can receive grants, gifts and bequests; but an association cannot. Several projects are
ready for implementation. Others could be planned in the areas of youth and of
international affairs such as emergency aid to populations caught up in war or famine or
natural disasters. The Foundation will hold an annual fundraising appeal at Easter with
the aim of mobilizing public opinion around specific cultural, social or international
projects. The first of these will be activities in solidarity with the people of Congo

Members of the Anglican Roman Catholic International Commission met
Aug. 27-Sept. 3 at the Church of Ireland College of Education in Dublin to begin drafting
a statement on the Catholic dogmas of the Virgin Mary’s Immaculate Conception and
Assumption. Rev. Don Bolen, the commission’s co-secretary, an official at the
Pontifical Council for Christian Unity and a priest from Regina, said the group
hoped to complete its statement within two or three years. As background to the dogma
discussion, the commission members also examined Mary’s role in the Bible and in salvation

St. Nicolas Greek Orthodox Church, destroyed by the collapse of the World Trade
will receive $500,000 for reconstruction from the mayor of Bari, Italy.
St. Nicolas is the patron saint of Bari. The church has about 80 members. The building was
constructed in 1832 and made into a church by Greek immigrants in 1916. Orthodox Father
John Romas said he wants the church to be rebuilt as a memorial to the attack victims.
“When amid the other terrible news that arrived from New York, it was known that even
the little church dedicated to San Nicolas was destroyed, we heard almost a call in the
name of St. Nicholas,” Bari Mayor Simeone di Cagno Abbresciadi said.

Evangelical and Catholic leaders in Argentina have proposed to link
some of their services to better help the needy. The executive commission of the
Argentine bishops’ conference and the National Christian Evangelical Council met
in Buenos Aires. They emphasized “the urgency to be agents of unity” among all
entities that make up the social fabric and, given “the great poverty caused by the
lack of work,” proposed joint services so that “bread and medications will not
be lacking in any home.”

Posted: Dec. 31, 2001 • Permanent link:
Categories: CCEIn this article: Centre Canadien d’œcuménisme
Transmis : 31 déc. 2001 • Lien permanente :
Catégorie : CCEDans cet article : Centre Canadien d’œcuménisme

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