Lutheran-Evangelical Churches

JOINT INTERNATIONAL COMMISSION FOR THE THEOLOGICAL DIALOGUE BETWEEN THE ORTHODOX CHURCH AND THE LUTHERAN WORLD FEDERATION INTER-ORTHODOX MEETING FOR THE EVALUATION OF THE DIALOGUE Athens, Greece, 2-5 May 2011 COMMUNIQUE

1.On the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the bilateral Dialogue between the Orthodox Church and the Lutheran World Federation (Espoo, Finland, 1981- Wittenberg, Germany, 2011), it was decided during the Orthodox - Lutheran Preparatory meeting in Bethlehem (2010), that an ad hoc Inter-Orthodox group should meet in Athens, Greece, prior to the 15th Plenary of the Joint International Commission for the Orthodox-Lutheran Theological Dialogue in Wittenberg, Germany (31 May- 7 June 2011), in order to evaluate the work already accomplished. This meeting took place from 2 to 5 May 2011 in the Inter-Orthodox Centre of the Church of Greece at the Penteli Holy Monastery of the Dormition of Virgin Mary the Theotokos, upon the invitation of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, and thanks to the gracious auspices of His Beatitude Archbishop Hieronymos II of Athens and All Greece. The meeting was moderated under the leadership of H.E. Metropolitan Prof. Dr. Gennadios of Sassima (Ecumenical Patriarchate). H.G. Ioannis of Thermopylae, Abbot of the Penteli Holy Monastery, and Prof. Dr. Marios Begzos, Director of the Inter-Orthodox Centre, received and hosted the participants graciously. The nine-member ad hoc group, consisting of hierarchs, priests and university professors, coming from the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the Patriarchate of Jerusalem, the Patriarchate of Moscow, the Church of Cyprus and the Church of Greece were present. All the participants are also members of the Joint Theological Commission for the Theological Dialogue between the Orthodox Church and the Lutheran World Federation.

2.The meeting heard and discussed four papers, addressing the main topics for the evaluation of the Dialogue, such as : a) ‘The Orthodox Church being in Theological Dialogue for thirty years with the Lutheran World Federation : The past and the present, hopes, challenges and skepticism" (Metropolitan Gennadios of Sassima, b) ‘The theological matters and themes discussed and agreed on the Dialogue since 1981 (Prof. Ch. Voulgaris), c) ‘The reception process on the agreed Common Statements on the Dialogue since 1981 (V. Revd. Viorel Ionita, d) The History of the Dialogue and issues of problems" (Metropolitan Isaias of Tamassos and Oreini, and e) "Looking on the future of the Dialogue" (Revd. Archimandrite Kyrill Hovoroun), These presentations featured several concrete and precise proposals included in the Final Report of the meeting, which will be also discussed with the rest of the Orthodox representatives- members participating in the Dialogue and will be presented as well to the forthcoming Orthodox- Lutheran Plenary Meeting in Wittenberg.

3.On Wednesday, the 4th of May, the members, under the leadership of H.E. Metropolitan Gennadios of Sassima, paid an official visit to H. B. Archbishop Hieronymos II of Athens and All Greece at the Archbishopric of Athens. At the meeting, H. Beatitude heard with much attention the purpose of this evaluation meeting and expressed his best wishes for its success, stressing the need of the Orthodox Church to reassess the far-reaching goal of the bilateral Dialogues, and of the Orthodox-Lutheran Dialogue in particular.  The Metropolitan thanked him very warmly for his hospitality and assured him that precisely this was the purpose of the meeting and all Orthodox members shared his awareness and his preoccupation.

4.After intensive discussion and thorough consideration of the above-mentioned thematic presentations, the meeting issued a Report which among other things underlined the following:
a) the Dialogue with Lutherans has to be continued as it was agreed in Espoo, Finland in 1981,
b)  the Orthodox members are committed to the bilateral dialogues as it was mandated by the 3rd Pan-Orthodox Pre-Conciliar Conference in Chambésy/Geneva, Switzerland, in 1986,
c)  the Dialogue needs to review and redefine deeply its main aim and goal for the future by drawing attention of the current developments within the Protestant world referring in issues of Ecclesiology and Anthropology, and
d) the 15th Plenary of the Joint International Commission for the Orthodox-Lutheran Theological Dialogue in Wittenberg, Germany (31 May- 7 June 2011) will be an occasion for a thorough and deep evaluation of the work accomplished during the thirty years and will mark a new phase for the future.   

Athens, Greece, the 5th of May 2011.