International symposium on "Orthodox theology and the future of ecumenical dialogue: perspectives and problems", Thessaloniki, Greece, 1-3 June 2003

Letter from the symposium participants to H.B. Patriarch Maximos of Bulgaria and H.B. Catholicos Elias, Patriarch of Georgia

To: H.B. Patriarch Maximos of Bulgaria
H.B. Catholicos Elias, Patriarch of Georgia

Thessaloniki, 3rd June 2003

Your Beatitude,

Xristos Anesti! Christ is Risen!

An International Symposium was held in Thessaloniki, Greece, from 1 to 3 June 2003, with the blessings of H.B. Christodoulos, Archbishop of Athens and All of Greece, and organised by the two Departments of the Theological Faculty of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. At this occasion members of the Steering Committee of the Special Commission on Orthodox Participation in the World Council of Churches and Professors of the Faculty met to discuss the theme “Orthodox Theology and Ecumenical Dialogue: Problems and Perspectives”.

With great sensitivity and a great sense of realism various difficulties and problems currently facing the ecumenical dialogue were identified and openly discussed. While the path of Inter-Christian dialogue is difficult, all the participants agreed that there is no alternative to dialogue. Every dialogue should be based on love, truth and an effort towards mutual understanding. A sure guide for such effort could be the experience of koinonia in the Undivided Church.

In spite of difficulties, however, there are also many positive challenges in the current situation. Here are only a few of these:

  • The political, social and economic developments within Europe create new and hopeful conditions for constructive dialogue between Christian Churches as well as for their cooperation and common witness.
  • The imperative for all Christian Churches to offer a common witness within a world suffering under the destructive powers of oppression, injustice, poverty and death, thus together bringing a message of hope and life in the Risen Lord!
  • The efforts among Orthodox Churches to reactivate the bilateral theological dialogues bring the positive result that renews hope for the future of bilateral relations in the ecumenical movement in general.
  • The “Special Commission on Orthodox Participation in the WCC” has presented a substantial report which was received by the Central Committee of the WCC and thus has created new possibilities for taking seriously and dealing responsibly with Orthodox concerns expressed by various local churches, not least the Holy Churches of Bulgaria and Georgia
  • .

    Thus, all the participants, while fully sympathizing with the problems that your Holy Church are experiencing during recent years and, on the basis of our hope and Christian love, make an appeal, out of that love and with deep respect, that your Holy Church review and reconsider its active participation in the multilateral and bilateral dialogues and conversations, and also its return to the broad ecumenical world family.

    “The hope never dies when we all proclaim the Risen Lord as Christ and Saviour.”

    With deep respect,

    The Participants in the Symposium:
    Professors of the Theological Faculties, University of Thessaloniki
    The members of the Steering Committee of the Special Commission on Orthodox Participation in the World Council of Churches