Russian Church not removed from World Council


Eastern Europe


Jerry Pillay. Photo WCRC

The Russian Orthodox Church remains a member of the World Council of Churches. The Council, however, strongly condemned Russia's "illegal and unjustified" war of aggression in Ukraine.

At a press conference, newly elected general secretary Jerry Pillay said the World Council of Churches' task is to examine church unity. It is, therefore, right to maintain dialogue with the Russian Orthodox Church. "We must try to have a fruitful dialogue and understand the perspective of the Russian Orthodox Church," Pillay said.

This reports the Christian Swiss news portal Reformiert.

In a statement, the Council lashes out against the conflict in Ukraine. "War, with the killing and all the other wretched consequences it entails, is inconsistent with the true nature of God and His will for humanity and violates our fundamental Christian and ecumenical principles," reads a weekend statement from Geneva. The WCC governing body also expressly rejects "any misuse of religious language and authority to justify armed aggression".


The Central Committee's decision comes as no surprise, writes the Christian Swiss news portal Ref.ch. On the assembly's first day, acting general secretary Ioan Sauca emphasized that the WCC is a "place for dialogue". It is easy to marginalise and exclude from the community. "But we are called to use a free and safe platform for encounter and dialogue, to meet and listen to one another, even when we don't agree," said Sauca.

The demand of the Swiss Evangelical Reformed Church (EKS) to consider suspending the Russian Orthodox Church from the WCC is also off the table. A corresponding motion had been passed in the synod of the EKS last weekend. Theologians and church representatives in Germany had also asked the World Council of Churches to put relations with the Russian Orthodox Church on hold.


On behalf of the Vatican and the Roman Catholic Church –which is not a member of the World Council of Churches but works closely with it– Andrzej Choromanski, a staff member of Rome's Dicastery for Promoting Christian Unity, attended WCC deliberations as an observer.

In an interview with kath.ch, he reported that the discussion in Geneva had concluded that the conversation had to be continued "absolutely". For this, you need "the Russian Orthodox Church at the table of ecumenical dialogue", which is why an exclusion or the suspension of WCC membership was "not an option".

According to the Curia employee, he is not aware whether there will be a meeting between Pope Francis and Cyril I at the World Religions Meeting in September in Kazakhstan. Officially, such a move has not yet been announced, despite the Pope's express wish to travel to Kazakhstan.



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