Your Excellencies and Graces,
Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Welcome to this meeting of the Orthodox Family during the 11th Assembly of the World Council of Churches. It is a true blessing and privilege to come together as representatives of our Mother Churches bearing witness to our historical spiritual traditions and the apostolic experience of the Christian faith as lived in the various contexts of our communities as Oriental and Eastern Orthodox. As such, the Orthodox Churches have a very special role to play in the life, orientation, and future of the World Council of Churches, especially following the adoption of the results of the work of the Special Commission for Orthodox Participation in the WCC of 2005.
I trust you have all had the opportunity to familiarize yourselves with the document recently published by the WCC entitled: Orthodox Reflections on the Way to Karlsruhe which offers a very useful resource to help us dive into the Assembly’s theme “Christ’s love moves the world to reconciliation and unity.” I invite you to read this document very carefully, especially the report that encompasses our specific contribution to the Assembly and well as our concerns for the world. Indeed, it is with great sorrow that we should acknowledge the challenging realities that our Churches are facing, from Ukraine to the Middle East, from Africa to Armenia, so many places where our faithful are victims twice over: victims of conflicts and wars, but also victims of secular and spiritual authorities that seek to prevent Christians from following Christ’s teaching of peace and forgiveness.
We must face the sad reality that our Churches are becoming estranged. My hope is that this Assembly can become a beacon of hope and reconciliation as we undertake this ecumenical journey together. We have the crucial opportunity to facilitate the reconciliation that is so urgently needed by promoting peace and justice in a spirit of communion and love. There are many items on our agenda today for our careful review.
In closing, allow me to express my deepest gratitude to the Rev. Prof. Dr. Ioan Sauca, who has so faithfully served the organization without forgetting his spiritual roots, embodying the best expression of Orthodox commitment to Christian unity and ecumenical solidarity. Finally, during our journey from Busan to Karlsruhe, we have lost many of our brothers and sisters who have reposed in the Lord. I would like to invite you to pray for the eternal memories of at least three of these Ecumenical heroes: Metropolitan Anba Bishoy of Damietta, Metropolitan Gennadios of Sassima, and Fr. Leonid Kishkovsky, among others. We continue to pray for the kidnapped Metropolitans of Aleppo, His Eminence Boulos (Yazigi) of the Patriarchate of Antioch, and His Eminence Mor Youhanna Gregorios (Ibrahim) of the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch.
As King David said: “How very good and pleasant it is when kindred live together in unity!” (Psalms 133, 1)
Thank you for your fraternal attention.