world council of churches

Special Commission on Orthodox Participation in the WCC
Background materials for sub-committees III
(Orthodox Academy, Crete, August 2000)

Sub-committee III of the Special Commission on Orthodox Participation in the WCC has been mandated to discuss "theological convergences and differences between Orthodox and other traditions in the WCC".

Many points of theological convergence and difference -- perhaps especially difference -- have been explicit and implicit in the statements from Orthodox meetings about the WCC which have figured so prominently in Special Commission background materials so far. But one overarching theological theme has loomed large since the beginning of the modern ecumenical endeavour: the ecclesiological implications of the ecumenical movement.

Member churches of the WCC have espoused roughly two ecclesiological self-understandings. The Orthodox hold that the Orthodox Church is the Una Sancta. Churches coming from the Reformation traditions are more inclined to see their own church as a part of a whole, a portion of the Body of Christ. These two ecclesiologies result in correspondingly different understandings of the nature of church unity, the nature of "councils of churches", and the nature and goal of the ecumenical task.

Crete Dossier Contents

The texts in this background dossier therefore all share a focus on questions of ecclesiological self-understanding and their implications for councils of churches. Among countless texts of potential relevance, two further texts ought to be considered as background materials for Sub-committee III, both of which are available in the Morges dossier . These are:

It is hoped that the present selection of documents will be of use to the deliberations of Sub-committee III and of the Special Commission in general. Staff is available to compile further texts as required for future work.

WCC Mixed Staff Group on the Special Commission

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