February 2006

His Beatitude Theodoros II Greek Orthodox Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa

I am sincerely grateful for the message of good wishes that you were kind enough to send me for the feast of Christmas and the New Year. United with you in prayer, I turn my thoughts with joy to the words of the psalmist, words which are so closely linked to this festive season, and which form the basis of our meditation on the mystery of the Incarnation, the mystery of the coming into the world of Emmanuel, God-with-us: "You are my Son; today I have begotten you" (Psalm 2:7).

The eternal "today" of God has come down into the transient "today" of this world. For us who live in darkness, a light has shone (cf. Is 9:1). This light is Christ, and it is truth; it casts out the darkness of falsehood; it lights up even the most seemingly inaccessible path; it reassures our hesitant and fearful steps. The light which streams forth from Bethlehem, where "God's grace has appeared" [Tit 2:11) is a light that gives warmth to our hearts, for it manifests to us God's love for the world.

During the celebration of Christmas, I prayed that the Lord would inspire a profound conviction in the hearts of all who have been baptized in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, a conviction that through our mutual love we are called to be messengers and witnesses of the eternal love of God. In truth, it is only thus that the light of the child of Bethlehem will overcome our divisions, preparing us to enter ever more deeply into the full communion for which we long and for which we must work without ceasing.

With these sentiments, I assure you of my affection and I wish you the Peace of Christ, our Light.

From the Vatican, 15 February 2006

Benedict P P XVI



Beloved participants
The World Council of Churches goes forward in the name of the father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. The Council makes ecclesiastical history. Every General Assembly, a gathering of Christians "with common mind'' defines its Trinitarian sojourn 'in this world' for the Church of God, His people.'' This extract, from the address of our blessed predecessor and President of the WCC, Patriarch Parthenios, which, as the then Bishop of Cyrene, we delivered during the deliberations of the Seventh General Assembly in 1991, we now repeat today as Primate of the Alexandrian Church.
We congratulate all who labored tirelessly and with self-sacrifice for the preparation of the General Assembly. We pray for the success of the aims of the Assembly and your contribution to the visible unity of Christians.
The position of the Patriarchate of Alexandria and all Africa regarding the Ecumenical Movement, and the WCC specifically, are in agreement with the common witness of Orthodoxy in the modern World. They are as follows:
The Patriarchate of Alexandria, unceasingly praying for the ''union of all'', participated in the Ecumenical Movement since its interception and contributed to its molding and further development. The Church of Alexandria, due to the Ecumenical Character that distinguishes it, continuously labored throughout history for the restoration of Christian Unity. The Participation of the Patriarchate of Alexandria in the Ecumenical movement is not foreign or contrary to the nature and history of the Orthodox Church, but constitutes the conscientious expression of the Apostolic faith within new historical conditions and in response to new existential demands.
The WCC is amongst the most important organs of the Ecumenical Movement. Even though it does not include, within its membership, all the Christian Churches and confessions and even though other Ecumenical bodies also fulfil a significant mission in the furthering of the wider Ecumenical Movement, the WCC today represents a constituted ecumenical body. Specific Orthodox Churches were among its founder members. The Orthodox Churches, by pan-orthodox agreement, constitutes full and equal members of the WCC and contribute, to the best of their abilities and means, to the furthering and success of the work of the WCC.
The Orthodox Churches, as members of the WCC, accept the basic articles of the Constitution regarding the aims and objectives of the Council. They also have the firm belief that the Ecclesiological preconditions of the Toronto Statement (1950), ''The Church, the Churches and the WCC'' is of paramount importance for the Orthodox participation in the WCC. It is thus self-explanatory that the WCC is not and can never be seen as a ''Super-Church".
''The aim of the WCC is not to negotiate unions between Churches, something that can only be realized by the Churches themselves working on their own initiative, but to bring Churches into living contact with one-another and to further the study and conversation of issues regarding Christian Unity''.
The WCC as an organ of its member Churches is not concerned solely with the context of the "Faith and Order" dialogue. Its multi-faced activities in the spheres of Evangelism, Ministry, health, theological education, inter-religious dialogue, the struggle against racism, the furthering of the ideals of Peace and Justice, all cover specific needs of the Churches of the World today and offer an opportunity of common witness and action. The Patriarchate of Alexandria appreciates this multi-faceted activity of the WCC and co-operates within these fields to the best of its ability and as its means allow.
New possibilities for a more significant Orthodox participation in the Council were opened after the 6th General Assembly in Vancouver. The equal importance even to the theological and social work of the Council, by the Vancouver Assembly, opened new horizons for the encounter and penetration of Orthodox theological thought into the life and activities of the WCC.
It is, however, a fact that a substantial Orthodox witness and the Orthodox theological contribution will be weakened, if, within the WCC, the necessary preconditions are not found that will offer the Orthodox Churches (the ability to act, on an equal basis to the other members of the WCC, and according to their ecclesiological identity. This is something that has not always happened due to the structure and the working principles that are followed.
The Orthodox Church is aware that  the Ecurnenical Movement takes on new forms in order to respond to new conditions and to deal with the new challenges of the world today. The creative contribution and witness of the Orthodox Church, on the basis of its apostolic tradition and faith, is of vital importance and necessity for the way ahead. We pray that all the Christian Churches work together, so that the day is near when the Lord will fulfil the hope of the Churches, that they be "one flock with one Shepherd"
With Paternal and Brotherly love






The Patriarchate of Alexandria and All Africa is following with sorrow and concern the tension which has been provoked in the Muslim world by the publication of cartoons, in the newspapers of certain European countries, depicting the Prophet Mohamed.


Naturally, freedom of expression is respected, as is the freedom of the Press to publish all views without censorship. However, the responsible exercising of this right, entails the avoidance of actions which offend the religious values and sensitivities of others. This is valid for all religions and should be respected by all. We pray to the one and only God that calm and  a spirit of conciliation will prevail, for the better understanding of each other and for the peaceful co-existence of all, wherever we may live