number 8, december 12, 1998

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Orthodox find the space for dialogue

By Carol Fouke

Problems in WCC-Orthodox relations weren’t ignored at a padare on "Orthodox Churches in the Ecumenical Movement" held yesterday. But conversations during and following the meeting also revealed good news: Orthodox and Protestant Christians at the assembly have entered into a real dialogue.

"I have met with a lot of people who genuinely want to dialogue," said Teva Regnee of the Women’s Orthodox Ministries and Education Network. The assembly "has been a space for that. I even went to the women’s ordination forum. They weren’t aware that we have a lot of other orders (besides the priesthood)."

In dialogue, "you have to express who you are," added Despina Prassis (USA), from the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. "That’s been one of the strengths of the ecumenical movement – giving all churches the opportunity to get to know ourselves better and express who we are.

"Encounters with people (at the assembly) are so encouraging and a sign of hope for the future of ecumenical dialogue," Prassis said. "We are here because we want to be here. I am here because I want to be here."

Both women praised the WCC’s Ecumenical Decade of the Churches in Solidarity with Women.

"The Decade was really great for us," Prassis said. "The WCC is publishing statements and papers from the Decade’s two Orthodox women’s consultations ("Orthodox Women Speak"). If Protestant churches pick these up, they will learn so much."

"There have been questions that aren’t ours," Regnee said, but Orthodox women were "on the radar screen. It’s to our detriment not to be involved."

In an earlier conversation, Anne Glynn-Mackoul (USA), Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East, affirmed her overwhelming enthusiasm and support for the Ecumenical Decade and Festival. It was marred only by her surprise at finding a phrase about "reproductive rights" in the final draft of the letter to the assembly. She spoke to her concern from the floor during the Decade plenary.

"It killed me to make that statement," she said afterwards. "On all other points, we were unanimous.

"The Decade was important for all women and respected the position of Orthodox women. The Decade Festival itself, despite a strong presence of persons wanting to broaden the agenda, was wonderful and very universal in most of its issues."

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Read other articles in this issue:

Polygamy no problem for African churches
Mandela to attend assembly tomorrow
Catholic Church doesn't want to 'dwarf' WCC
Evangelicals work the stream at WCC
Orthodox find the space for dialogue
Padare, the assembly energizer
Unmasking Orthodox claims
Amsterdam had a Message
50 million members, and growing fast
Some quiet nourishment

8th Assembly and 50th Anniversary

copyright 1998 World Council of Churches. Remarks to webeditor