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XX International Ecumenical Conference
Bose, Wednesday 5 - Saturday 8 September 2012
in collaboration with the Orthodox Churches
Bose, 8 September 2012
To conclude this 20th conference — it seems only yesterday that with great hesitation and trembling we began this adventure twenty years ago — I simply wish to express profound thanks to the Lord. It is the Lord who always accompanies us in these conferences, it is the Lord who is in our midst with his mercy and his love, it is the Lord who allows us to meet, to listen to each other, to exchange gifts, the gifts that our Churches have and that ought to be shared among those who call themselves Christians. We will, of course, express our thanksgiving in prayer, but it is as well a profoundly felt sentiment in our hearts, hence we must by all means express it at the end of our meetings.
The ecumenical patriarch Bartholomew I said last June that “the real crisis is not in the environment, but in men’s hearts”. I believe that this is not only true, but that it is something that ought to engage us in a real and true responsibility, which is that of the Christian life. I try never to forget the words of bishop Ioann (Wendland), later metropolitan of Jaroslavl’ (†1989), representative of the Russian Church at the World Council of Churches. He introduced himself and the Russian Church with these words: “Brethren, we wish to thank you for having welcomed us among you. You will ask what is our contribution. We do not offer a new religious doctrine, we offer the faith of the early Church. Perhaps we have not been capable of living up to it. We offer it to you and we hope that you will be capable and that together we will be capable of producing the fruits that perhaps alone we have not been able to bear.”
These are humble and great words, which reveal what meeting each other, welcoming each other, tending towards communion in Christ can signify. Ecumenism is not a kind of compromise of tactics or of strategy, wrote metropolitan Anthony Bloom, a way of bringing together different Churches and of drawing believers; ecumenism is an attitude of the spirit that recognizes that Christ is the Lord of the world and that our role is to bring to this universe a truth that embraces, exalts it, that leads it to a beauty and a salvation that it did not know. The end of ecumenism is the transfiguration of the world, all together, because “God has conceived our salvation also through the material of the world, the material world, the visible world,” as St John Damascene writes (On the sacred images, 1,16).
The ecological crisis, as metropolitan Ioannis of Pergamum said, is not only the consequence of individualism, of opulence, of consumerism, but is above all a consequence of a pathology of man’s identity, who risks forgetting who he is and to what he is called. Our conferences, which from the very beginning have had the blessing of the Patriarchate of Constantinople and of the Patriarchate of Moscow, which have always supported and encouraged us, and now also the blessing of the other Orthodox Churches, would like to be an antidote in this direction, a humble possibility of encounter, a seed of hope!