Raiser: new configuration of ecumenical movement needed

 — Aug. 27, 200327 aoüt 2003

Raiser outlines need for new configuration of ecumenical movement

Rev. Dr Konrad Raiser re-affirmed the need for a new configuration of the ecumenical movement in his last report to the Central Committee as World Council of Churches‘ (WCC) general secretary.

Emphasizing the need to move the whole Christian community to a renewed common witness in the 21st century, Raiser outlined a process to consider the “re-configuration of the ecumenical movement.” “The WCC takes this initiative not out of institutional self-interest, but in response to its constitutional mandate to further and maintain the coherence of the one ecumenical movement in its diverse manifestations,” he said.

A consultation will be held in Lebanon in November with a view to analysing the challenges presented by a changing world. It will identify key areas of change, and design a process of study and consultation which could lead to proposals being put to organisations involved, including the WCC itself at its assembly in 2006.

Raiser acknowledged the difficulties faced by the ecumenical movement, comparing them with those faced by the United Nations (UN): “Shortage of funds, increase of bilateralism, growing competition between UN agencies and the NGO community, and defensiveness of governments over against the influence of civil society organisations on the shaping of a new international order. Generally, there is a trend to respond to the challenges by way of pragmatic organisational and structural changes, hoping to increase ‘relevance’ by adopting ‘looser, lighter and more flexible structures’.”

However, he continued, “We cannot be content with a pragmatic and functional re-adjustment of structures to facilitate cooperation and render (ecumenical organisations) more effective.” Instead, “The aim should be to rally the partners again around a common set of values and attitudes, to sharpen the sense of a common mission.”

In pursuit of this, there is, according to Raiser a “fundamental value option: in favour of multilateralism vs bilateralism, in favour of a conciliar model of ecumenism over against the confessional model, in favour of a wide notion of ecumenism over against the concentration towards an ecumenism of churches as organised bodies.”

Consequently, “The legitimate partners in this emerging conversation are all those who, irrespective of their relationship with the WCC, recognise the basic affirmations of faith as expressed in the basis of the WCC, and who acknowledge that the churches, in spite of their institutional limitations, are the main actors of the ecumenical movement.”

In his report, Raiser referred to issues to be addressed at this Central Committee, including bio-technology, and work among people with disabilities: “The expectations that the churches find the courage to address the fundamental spiritual and moral questions among people today is increasing everywhere.” Speaking of advances in genetic technology, he suggested that “Even human life is no longer protected by those fundamental ethical convictions which affirm the sanctity and inviolability of life.” Commending the work of the Ecumenical Disabilities Advocates Network (EDAN) and its document, A Church of All and for All, “Its theological reflections also have a direct bearing on the ethical challenges arising in the field of bio-technology,” Raiser said.

He also spoke of developments in the WCC since the last Council meeting, expressing his satisfaction that the efforts made to deal with the Council’s “critical” financial situation had proved successful and that forecasts were “modestly encouraging.” “However,” he continued, “we have not yet reached the point of financial equilibrium, and the decline of contributions has not been halted.” Further recommendations will be considered by the Central Committee.

Raiser also referred to the work of the Special Commission on Orthodox Participation in the WCC. Speaking of the meeting of the Steering Committee last June, he said that it had “revitalised the spirit of the Special Commission.” He highlighted that the committee strongly reaffirmed the report’s vision, especially on common prayer, “while admitting that it may have failed to communicate this vision in a convincing manner.” He welcomed the positive responses to the ongoing work of the Commission from, in particular, the Church of Greece and the Russian Orthodox Church.

At the conclusion of his report, Raiser expressed his gratitude to the Central Committee members and his colleagues. “Those who carry on the task most directly have my heartfelt prayers and support for every success,” he said. “But more, I have confidence in the future, for the movement in which we are engaged is ultimately in God’s hands and God will complete what we have had to leave unfinished.”

Posted: Aug. 27, 2003 • Permanent link: ecumenism.net/?p=4894
Categories: News
Transmis : 27 aoüt 2003 • Lien permanente : ecumenism.net/?p=4894
Catégorie : News

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