Orthodox Outlet for Dogmatic Enquiries Ecumenism and Papism


The myth regarding the Orthodox presence in the dialogues with other faiths


by John Kornarakis,

Professor Emeritus of the Athens University


Source: «Orthodox Press» newspaper, 22 Dec. 2006.



In the 17-11-2006 edition of the newspaper «Orthodox Press» there is an article titled: «Communication with other faiths as an opportunity for Orthodox witness».

The article in question supports and promotes the participation of the Orthodox in inter-Christian dialogues, with the familiar argument that our communicating with other faiths is a unique opportunity for us to offer our testimony of the Orthodox Truth, which our Church alone possesses!

 This, nowadays, is seen as an assertion that is based on common logic, according to which, this communication of ours is an imperative one-way street, given that –logically speaking– if we do not place ourselves in any dialogue with our brothers of other faiths, we will not be able to inform them convincingly about the wealth of truths in our Patristic Tradition, and generally about the orthodox nature of our faith!

But this kind of an assertion would indeed have been a convincing argument in favour of the Church’s participation in such dialogues, if there were those terms, prerequisites and conditions that would have ensured the realization of such a task of witnessing the orthodox Patristic teachings to our misguided brethren!

 Nevertheless, in our day, numerous factors - of varying natures - have proved that such an assertion or method of communication with other faiths is completely utopian and that it basically aspires to developing the Church’s missionary role with the opportunity provided by the inter-Christian dialogues which are governed by the ecumenist spirit that seeks to alienate the Christian faith from the Holy Spiritual and charismatic elements that it possesses!  Thus, with the prerequisites and the terms that govern these dialogues nowadays, the myth lies in the assertion that the argument of a necessity to develop the Church’s missionary role is utopian.

 And it is a fact, that this myth is becoming credible in our day and age, and is also being embraced by people of the Church, who are not aware of what is happening, whether in the Ecumenist sphere of the World Council of Churches, or in the dialogues with the Papists, or in all the inter-religious activities in general!  Besides, the events taking place in the Ecumenist sphere – which solidify the reality of the myth that is promoting the utopian argument regarding the opportunity for witness, or for missionary development – are, among many others, the following:

1. Every heterodox representative, when in an inter-Christian dialogue, has a specific mission:  to present and to defend his confession’s faith during the respective discussions.  The representative does not participate in a dialogue for the purpose of finding better views regarding his personal faith.  Besides, the differences between the confessions of the Orthodox Church and the heterodox/heretic teachings are usually diametrically opposed; hence, Orthodox testimony is unable to decisively influence the heterodox listener! 

On the above, my colleague, the Patristics Professor Stylianos Papadopoulos, with his extensive experience in the field of inter-Christian dialogues, verifies that:  «It has not been observed, to this day, that a Confession has abandoned an element of its teachings as a result of the dialogues...   Perhaps our partners have conceded to changing certain secondary, practical aspects, but never any element of their teaching...» (1).

2. Judging from the way that these dialogues are conducted in practice, as well as the kind of presence and the actions that our representatives display, quite the opposite is observed; i.e., the orthodox representatives not only avoid giving due witness of their faith, they actually show their support to heterodox views!

In an essay by the Metropolitan of Peristeri, fr. Chrysostom and fr. Theodore Zisis, regarding the participation of our representatives in a specific dialogue, we note the following · «...the orthodox representatives in these dialogues appear “completely unprepared” and are not in agreement amongst themselves. Many orthodox members, because of their ignorance, have even adopted Roman Catholic views...  and have rejected the Orthodox ones, or, they consider the dialogue their own, personal affair, and thus define their position on the basis of their personal acquaintances and interests...» (2).

3. In the inter-Christian dialogues, the heterodox prefer topics, or issues, which, according to their own evaluations are the ones that unite us; however, they have never agreed to discuss those teachings that have kept us apart!  This is a fact that is verified by the content of the “common declarations”, which are authored after the completion of each dialogue!

Again, equally significant and indicative are the points verified by prof. St. Papadopoulos: «I had participated in the dialogue with the Roman Catholics for almost ten years.  During this period, an entire series of texts had been composed; however, in none of them was there any mention that the two Churches have dogmatic differences.  The Roman Catholics stubbornly refused to write any such thing, and the Orthodox accepted this with ease, despite my heated persistence to mention this fact regarding dogmatic differences... They do not wish the dialogues to appear as though they are attributed to dogmatic differences, but only to psychological and political ones, or, in the worst case, to differences between Theological «Schools»! (3)

4. However, any attempt whatsoever to express orthodox witness, in an inter-Christian dialogue, is rendered impossible on account of the relative principles laid out in the statutes of the World Council of Churches.


a) The Ecumenist Charter (2000) urges representatives to refrain from all missionary practice towards the heterodox, as this is considered proselytism.  We must therefore «promise to not coerce people into changing their Church». (4)

â) A principle has been imposed on us (Vancouver, 1983), according to which the theological differences are in every case legal and are not deemed an obstacle for the union of the miscellaneous confessions.  This principle was revived and fortified by the principle set down by the 9th General Convention of the World Council of Churches in Porto Allegre of Brazil (2006), according to which: «The apostolic faith of the Church is one, but differing formulations of the Church’s faith are legally acceptable».

God will supposedly harmonize those differences, and will eradicate «the human weaknesses»!. This ecumenist legalization of heresies neutralizes the orthodox character of any witness given by representatives of our Church!

The assertion therefore, which especially moves the Orthodox faithful who are ignorant of what is going on in the ecumenist areas of inter-Christian and inter-faith dialogues and convinces them that we should participate in these dialogues for the sake of Orthodox witness, is a myth that serves only the ends of the “orthodox” ecumenists – both clergy and laity!

The proper missionary aspect of the Church is constantly in bloom, in a God-pleasing manner, as discerned in all Her overseas missionary activities, where the souls of the recipients of the Orthodox message of salvation in Christ receive it thirstily; it is experienced first-hand by them, and they are the ones who thereafter comprise the newly-planted Orthodoxy!

The Orthodox.....Orthodoxy! The proper missionary aspect of the Church, however, is not appreciated by minds that have been infiltrated by abominable heresies!

We should not disorient the Orthodox conscience of the Church’s fold, with myths!


(1) «The Course of the Orthodox», 2000, p. 17 (by P. Semates. Inter-Christian – Inter-Faith Dialogues. TINOS Publications. Athens, 2003, p. 40).
(2) G. Psaltakis. «Ecumenism», p. 18 (by Semates, p. 64).
(3) «The Course of the Orthodox
», p. 130 (by Semates, p. 64.).
(4) «The Course of the Orthodox», p. 130 and N. Vasiliades, «Pan-Religious Ecumenism», 2000, pp. 11, 18 (by Semates, p.. 41).


Translation by: A. N.

Article published in English on: 11-1-2007.

Last update: 16-1-2007.