From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
Georgian churches/WCC rapprochement
"WCC Media" <Media@wcc-coe.org>
Wed, 30 Jun 2004 16:31:12 +0200
World Council of Churches
For immediate release pr-04-15
Georgian Orthodox leader willing to resume collaboration with WCC
The head of the Georgian Orthodox Church has expressed his willingness to
resume collaboration with the World Council of Churches (WCC) following
the first meeting of senior staff of the ecumenical body with the
leadership of the church since its withdrawal from WCC in 1997.
Catholicos-Patriarch Ilia II confirmed his church's interest in comments
made following a meeting with a WCC staff delegation headed by WCC deputy
general secretary Georges Lemopoulos in Tbilisi, Georgia. Accompanying
Lemopoulos on the 27-29 June 2004 visit to Georgia were WCC staff members
Sylvia Raulo and Tamara Grdzelidze. Among other issues, the church leaders
expressed their interest in collaborating in the areas of social witness
and service of the churches, as well as in response to the challenges of
globalization and European integration.
The three-million member Georgian Orthodox Church withdrew from membership
in the WCC and other ecumenical organizations in 1997 after criticism of
WCC orientations, and citing internal opposition to ecumenical relations.
In 1998, the WCC set up a Special Commission on Orthodox participation in
the WCC which sought to address some of the concerns articulated by
Orthodox member churches. The report of the Special Commission was the
main focus of discussion during a meeting with members of the Georgian
Orthodox Theological Commission and with members of the Holy Synod.
According to Lemopoulos, the meeting with the patriarch could be
characterized as "promising" for future relationships between the WCC and
the Georgian Orthodox Church. "The meeting confirmed that there is a
mutual willingness to renew dialogue and cooperation, without ignoring the
significant differences that persist," he said. Some sections of the
Georgian Orthodox Church continue to express their opposition to
The WCC delegation also met with government officials, notably the deputy
minister of foreign affairs, Mr Kote Kavtaradze, and the chairman of the
foreign relations committee, Mr Kote Gabashvili. Both leaders emphasized
that the Georgian Church could play a significant role in the new
situation in Georgia following the November 2003 "rose revolution", and
encouraged the revival of international church relationships.
The Georgian Orthodox Church joined the WCC in 1961, and
Catholicos-Patriarch Ilia II served as one of the presidents of WCC
between 1983 and 1991.
More information is available on our website:
- WCC press release of 6 June 2003 entitled "Orthodox participation in
ecumenical movement: "There is no alternative to dialogue":
- Letter from participants in an international symposium on "Orthodox
theology and the future of ecumenical dialogue: perspectives and
problems", Thessaloniki, Greece, 1-3 June 2003, to H.B. Patriarch Maximos
of Bulgaria and H.B. Catholicos-Patriarch Ilia II of Georgia:
- Special Commission on Orthodox Participation in the WCC:
- Georgia country profile:
For more information contact:
Media Relations Office: tel: (+41 22) 791 64 21 / 61 53
e-mail:email@example.com - http://www.wcc-coe.org
The World Council of Churches is a fellowship of churches, now 342, in more
than 120 countries in all continents from virtually all Christian
traditions. The Roman Catholic Church is not a member church but works
cooperatively with the WCC. The highest governing body is the assembly,
which meets approximately every seven years. The WCC was formally
inaugurated in 1948 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Its staff is headed by
general secretary Samuel Kobia from the Methodist church in Kenya.
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