Orthodox Leaders Consider Nature of Church

World Council of Churches Stresses Common Christian Witness

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AYIA NAPA, Cyprus, MARCH 7, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Leaders of various Orthodox Churches are meeting in Ayia Napa to study a document on "The Nature and Mission of the Church."

The weeklong meeting, which began Thursday, gathered 40 church leaders, university professors, theologians, men and women as well as youth, most of whom are members of the World Council of Churches Commission on Faith and Order.

The meeting participants aim to offer a distinctly Orthodox contribution to the current worldwide discussion on ecclesiology.

Archbishop Chrysostomos II of Cyprus affirmed that "Orthodox theology is primarily ecclesiological."

"Christianity cannot be understood except as the church," the Orthodox prelate stated.

He underlined the Orthodox interpretation of ecclesiology, which is not confessional, but rather stresses the existential experience of the church.

Olav Fykse Tveit, the general secretary of the World Council of Churches, acknowledged the Orthodox contribution to this discussion.

He also mentioned a forthcoming peace convocation that will take place in Kingston, Jamaica, where "our task will be to affirm that we aim at being one, so that the world may believe that a just peace is possible."

"We know that in this island there is a struggle for justice and peace," Tveit said. "It is as part of our journey towards unity and common witness that we participate in this struggle."