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Serbian Orthodox Church and CoE affirm ties

Serbian Orthodox Church and CoE affirm ties

Coming shortly on the heels of his visit to the Vatican, the Archbishop of Canterbury has welcomed Serbian Patriarch Irinej, Archbishop of Pec for an official visit to the UK.

from ACNS by Gavin Drake:

The Archbishop’s “visit, which was hosted by the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, marked the centenary of the first Orthodox Christian to preach from the pulpit of London’s St Paul’s Cathedral. It was “an occasion of significant conversation and warm fellowship between [the Archbishops] and their delegations, which signals a renewal of the longstanding and close relationship between the Church of England and the Serbian Orthodox Church,” a spokesperson for Lambeth Palace said.”

Over the past century, the two churches have provided mutual support to one another and the Archbishop’s discussions sought to build upon those bonds as Europe faces political, economic, and cultural pressures from the recent influx of refugees.

“In his opening remarks, Archbishop Justin Welby thanked Patriarch Irinej for the “extraordinary hospitality and . . . welcome” that the Serbian Orthodox Church had given “to the Anglican community in Serbia for a hundred years,” including through the annual welcome on Christmas Eve to the Anglican community in the Patriarch’s own chapel.

“Today, Serbia finds itself on the frontier of Europe, facing the countless tens of thousands driven by darkness from their own homes,” Archbishop Welby said. “And, tragically, as in the past, Europe has not, in a united way, risen to this challenge, and Serbia has had to bear a great burden – and the Orthodox Church has demonstrated, again, its faithfulness.”

In his response, Patriarch Irinej said that at a time in which the world was “saturated with confusion and unrest,” the churches had to “seek ways which allow us to approach each other more closely, to put aside that which possibly divides us and makes us become distant.

“But at the same time to build from within that which is common to us – and indeed there is much in common between you and us, both of us and the Roman Catholics, and, of course, the Protestant world.  It is on that foundation that we need to build our common relationships. I trust this is the will of God, and that this is what God expects from us. This is why we need to be servants of the mission, of evangelisation in our times and in our world.”

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JC Fisher

In a time when we usually only hear fulminations from Eastern Orthodox hierarchs about our decadent, sinful Western sexual ethics and ecclesial order (e.g. ordination of women), this Primate-to-Primate embrace is, even if everso slightly, a welcome change.

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