Orthodox Head Praised for Christian Unity Efforts

A delegation of Reformed church leaders praised Orthodox leader Bartholomew I for his efforts in fostering Christian unity in Turkey.
( [email protected] ) Jan 17, 2007 01:24 PM EST

A delegation of Reformed church leaders recently praised Orthodox leader Bartholomew I for his efforts in fostering Christian unity following their meeting in Turkey.

Leaders of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches concluded their meeting with the Patriarch of Constantinople in Istanbul, Turkey, on Monday. WARC president Clifton Kirkpatrick said he was thankful for the Patriarch’s “faithful witness” of the Christian faith during difficult times and looks forward to future ecumenical dialogues.

Bartholomew I said that the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the highest ecclesiastical official of the Eastern Orthodox Church, has for more than a century placed much importance to the ecumenical movement. The Patriarchate was one of the founding members of the World Council of Churches, an ecumenical movement with the goal of Christian unity.

Bartholomew I affirmed the need for continued Reformed-Orthodox dialogue, which began in 1988.

“In our meetings with the Ecumenical Patriarchate we heard solid and warm support for our dialogue, said Reformed theologian Iain Torrance, president of Princeton Theological Seminary and co-chairperson of the Reformed-Orthodox Dialogue, according to a report on Tuesday. “We took this as a great encouragement and saw it as the expression of a commitment equal to our own.”

Torrance said the Reformed-Orthodox Dialogue led to agreements on the Trinity and Christology.

Pope Benedict XVI also recently visited Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I and spoke about Christian unity during his historic visit to Turkey last November. The Pope had called divisions among Christians a “scandal to the world” and has aimed to fully unite the two branches of Christianity during his papacy, according to The Associated Press.

The Orthodox Christian church split from Catholicism nearly 1,000 years ago over disputes including the extent of papal authority.

WARC’s general secretary, the Rev. Dr. Setri Nyomi, concluded: “It was a good opportunity to foster our relationship and to think together on our common commitment to Christian unity and coherence in the ecumenical movement.”

The World Alliance of Reformed Churches represents 75 million Reformed Christians in 218 churches in 107 countries. Its member churches are Congregational, Presbyterian, Reformed and United Churches with roots in the 16th-century Reformation led by John Calvin, John Knox and others.