Anglican-Orthodox Relations - a Dead End or Way Forward?
Below is the beginning of a research paper by Dimitris Salapatas.
The links to the whole paper follow.
Relations between the Orthodox Church and the Anglican Communion have been an ongoing phenomenon since the 17th century. However, the 20th century has taken the relations to a new level, resulting in the establishment of the Official Dialogue between the two churches. This century will be known as the Age of Ecumenism, “the age in which Christians of all denominations became aware of the scandal of disunion, and attempted to do something to bring it to an end.”
We live in a globalised, digital world and epoch; it is inevitable that this would have affected the relations between the churches on a global level, taking us away from the past, isolated state within which the churches and the people existed. It is crucial to understand why this has happened now, i.e. the dialogue between Eastern and Western Christianity, whether it is a dead-end or a way forward for all of Christianity.
The number of Anglican-Orthodox groups which exist, primarily in the West, and more specifically in Britain, have contributed immensely towards the establishment of the current dialogue. The first group to be founded in Britain was “The Association for the Promotion of the Unity of Christendom” which was founded in 1857, whilst the Eastern Church Association came into being in 1864. The E.C.A.’s purpose was to “inform Anglicans of the state and position of the Eastern Christians; to make the doctrines and principles of Anglicanism known in the East; to take advantage ‘of all opportunities which the providence of God shall afford us for intercommunion with the Orthodox Church, and also for friendly intercourse with the other ancient Churches of the East’; to give financial assistance to the Orthodox bishops to assist in their efforts to promote the spiritual welfare of their flocks.”
The E.C.A.’s importance is evident, since it was the first endeavour within the United Kingdom to find an organisation with a sole purpose the promotion of Anglican-Orthodox Relations. On the whole, discussions before this point were products of individuals, existing on the periphery of the church’s interest, in both East and West. Nevertheless, the E.C.A. altered this practice. It persisted that its members were representing a church; consequently giving it an official position within the relations of the two churches. This organisation is currently known as ‘The Anglican and Eastern Churches Association’ (A.E.C.A.). It eventually amalgamated with ‘The Anglican and Eastern Orthodox Churches Union’, in 1906, forming finally the existing A.E.C.A, based in London. It is significant to identify its goals; the Association has the following aim:
“To advance the Christian religion, particularly by teaching members of the Anglican and Orthodox Churches about each other, in order to prepare the way for an ultimate union between them, in accordance with our Lord’s prayer that ‘all may be one’. All its members are urged to work and pray constantly to this end.”
The second important society promoting Anglican-Orthodox Relations is the Fellowship of Saint Alban and Saint Sergius. It is an unofficial body; “it numbers among its members some eminent theologians and Church leaders” and therefore it is considered to be “one of the most important international forums for Orthodox theology.” It does not “conduct any official negotiations; its members are not committed to any particular scheme of reunion. Its purpose is to help Christians to acquire mutual trust and understanding”, and thus prepare the way for the future union between East and West. “The Fellowship shows the one life of the Church overcoming division;” it is a sign of the future unity, wished by everyone who is involved in the Ecumenical Movement.
Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew stated, during the Archbishop of Canterbury’s recent visit to Constantinople (January 2014) that: “These two societies have fostered countless ecumenical friendships; and without such ecumenical friendships, on the direct and personal level, we cannot hope to build a firm foundation for Christian unity."
The Inter-Christian relations between the Orthodox and the Anglicans have been an ongoing reality, since the 17th century, where for the first time the West wished to study the Eastern Church .....