The Honorary Head of the Orthodox Churches, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, informed the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) about the results of the Orthodox Council in Crete. The occasion was a visit made by the Chairman of the Theological Commission and Moderator for Intrafaith Relations of the World Evangelical Alliance at the official seat of the Patriarch.

Thomas Schirrmacher and the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew

A special honor was the participation at a dinner with the current members of the Holy Synod, i.e., archbishops of the Ecumenical Patriarchate from almost all continents.

At the same time, the Ecumenical Patriarchate agreed to conduct high-level theological discussions with the World Evangelical Alliance. The participants from both sides are to be determined by autumn.

Schirrmacher and his team also visited the General Secretary of the Armenian Patriarchate, Father Drtad Uzunyan, the Metropolitan and Archbishop of the Syrian Orthodox Church of Istanbul and Ankara, Filüksinos Yusuf Çetin, and Istanbul’s Mufti, Prof. Dr. Rahmi Yaran.

The 250 million Orthodox Christians worldwide belong to 14 independent (“autocephalous”) churches, which are independent and equal. The Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople bears his name because he alone has the honorary privilege for the whole world (ecumenism) and only he can convene a council. However, he is not a pope and has no authority over others. In fact, the work he conducts from his location in Istanbul is severely restricted by the Turkish authorities.

An estimated two million Orthodox Christians of various churches live in Germany. With the Orthodox Bishops’ Conference in Germany, which was founded in 2010 and to which ten bishops from seven churches belong, the unity or at least commonality of the Orthodox churches is more advanced than on an international level. The chairman is the Bonn-based Metropolitan Augoustinos, the Greek Orthodox Exarch for Europe.

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