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Document Details :
Title: Van Canberra tot Harare
Subtitle: Het traject van orthodoxe kerken
Author(s): DAVIDS, A.
Journal: Journal of Eastern Christian Studies
Volume: 51 Issue: 1-2 Date: 1999
From Canberra to Harare: The Path of the Orthodox Churches
‘Syncretism’ and the way of praying together during the Seventh Assembly of the World Council of Churches at Canberra in 1991 provoked strong protests among the Orthodox participants. In their view, the ecumenical movement was going astray because the genuine Christian tradition of the Early Church, of the Ecumenical Councils and of the Fathers of the Church was not respected. In particular the Orthodox Churches of Eastern Europe, which were now free from their former communist governments, but had fallen prey to proselitism on the part of other Christian churches and denominations, contributed to the process of Towards a Common Understanding and Vision of the World Council of Churches [CUV]. In general, they reproached the ‘western, rational, and protestant’ World Council of Churches for a disdain for the truly Christian and Orthodox ecclesiological and ethical doctrine and values.
The Orthodox Churches tried to combine forces, as the Eighth Assembly of the World Council of Churches to be held at Harare, Zimbabwe in 1998 approached. After the withdrawal of the Georgian Orthodox Church from the World Council of Churches in 1997, the Ecumenical Patriarch, Bartholomeos, tried to restore the common strategy by convoking a consultation at Thessaloniki in April-May 1998. But some Eastern European Orthodox Churches maintained their threats. The Bulgarian Orthodox Church left the World Council of Churches later that year.
The Thessaloniki meeting was soon followed by a conference of both the Eastern and the Oriental Orthodox Churches at Saydnaya, near Damascus, Syria. Both ‘families of Orthodoxy’ agreed to send delegates to the assembly of Harare. In Harare, however, not all Orthodox Churches were present and some Churches were represented only inadequately. But Harare will certainly contribute to the real globalisation of Orthodoxy in Eastern Europe, the Balkans, the Middle East and the diaspora.