With the arrival here of three representatives of the Russian Orthodox Church, 63 non-Catholic religious leaders are attending the second session of the ecumenical council as observer delegates or guests of the Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity.
This is an increase of 18 over the number of observers and guests at the first session of the council last year
This increase clearly shows that the impact of the late Pope John’s ecumenical initiative not only has not lessened, but has actually become more marked than even the most optimistic had anticipated.
Thus the worldwide interest in Christian unity is strongly emphasized by the continued favorable response to the invitations issued on behalf of Pope Paul VI by Augustin Cardinal Bea, S.J., president of the Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity.
When the list of observers and guests was issued by the council press office, the names of the Russian Orthodox representatives were missing. Many assumed that the Russian Orthodox Church had decided not to send observers to the council’s second session as it had to the first. But the evening the list was issued, Cardinal Bea’s secretariat received a telegram from the Russians announcing their intention of participating and listing the names of their observers.
(Still more Orthodox observer delegates may come to the second session. Reports from the pan-Orthodox conference on the island of Rhodes in the Mediterranean Sea organized by Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras of Istanbul said the prelates at the conference unanimously approved the establishment of contacts with the Catholic Church to promote the cause of Christian unity.
(Delegates from 11 Orthodox churches agreed that each church will be free to send observers to the council. The conference also unanimously endorsed a proposal that the Orthodox churches suggest “a dialogue on equal terms” to the Catholic Church.)
In view of the number of observers here, the relaxation of the strict secrecy rule that prevailed at the council’s first session will also benefit the dialogue inaugurated between Catholics and other Christians.
While the presence of non-Catholic delegates was an almost sensational novelty at the first session, it has now become a matter of course. This will help greatly in establishing more intimate interfaith contacts than ever before.
With the issue of freedom of conscience and religious tolerance coming to the fore at the second session, the non-Catholic delegates will find that the atmosphere now created, which is conducive to better mutual understanding, will help greatly in overcoming many a reservation so far considered essential. This will promote the spirit of brotherly love which should be a distinctive characteristic of all Christians.
A sentence in the project on the nature of the Church which is the first item on the second session’s agenda has clearly expressed this thought. It says that “the Church, pious mother of all, knows how to be closely related to all the baptized even though they may not profess the integral faith and the unity of communion with the Roman pontiff.”
Delegate observers from non-Catholic churches and organizations listed by the Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity (Sept. 27) two days before the start of the second session were:
Russian Orthodox Church (Patriarchate of Moscow) — The Very Rev. Archpriest Vitaly Borovoy, vice chairman of the patriarchate’s Division of External Church Affairs, and the Very Rev. Iakov Illich, arch-priest of the Leningrad Cathedral of the Transfiguration.
Substitute: Nikolai Anphinogenov, secretary of the Russian Orthodox representation at the World Council of Churches, Geneva, Switzerland.
(Father Borovoy is also designated as an official representative of the Orthodox Church of Georgia, an autonomous church whose two million members are concentrated in the Soviet Republic of Georgia in the Caucasus Mountains.)
Coptic Church of Egypt — The Rev. Pakhoum A. El-Moharaky, vice president of the Coptic university college in Cairo and secretary for religious affairs of the Coptic Patriarchate of Alexandria, and Dr. Farid El-Pharaony, vice president of the Coptic Community Council of Alexandria and counselor of the Court of Appeals.
Church of Ethiopia — The Rev. Melake Selam Demetros and Dr. Haile Gabriel Dagne.
Syrian Orthodox Church—The Very Rev. Zakka B. Iwas, executive secretary of Jacobite Patriarchate of Antioch.
Orthodox Syrian Church of the East, India — The Rev. Korah Philipos, rector of the theological seminary of Kottayam, India.
Apostolic Armenian Church (Holy See of Etchmiadzin) — Most Rev. Bishop Parkev Kevorkian, delegate in Moscow of the Katholikos and pastor of the Gregorian Armenian community in Moscow; and Krikor Bekmezian, lay theologian and member of the supreme spiritual council of the Etchmiadzin katholikate.
Apostolic Armenian Church (Katholikate of Cilicia) — The Very Rev. Archimandrite Ardavazt Terterian, professor of the theological seminary at Antilyas, Lebanon.
Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia — Most Rev. Antony Bartochevitch, Bishop of Geneva; the Very Rev. Archpriest Igor Troyanov, rector of the Russian Orthodox seminary of Lausanne and Vevey, Switzerland. Substitute: Dr. Serge Grotov of the University of Rome.
Old Catholic Church (Union of Utrecht) — The Very Rev. Peter Maan, professor of New Testament exegesis at the Old Catholic seminary of Amersfoort, the Netherlands, and canon of the cathedral church of Utrecht.
Mar Thoma Syrian Church of Malabar (India) — C.P. Mathew, professor at the Union Christian College at Alwaye, Kerala, South India.
Anglican Communion — The Rt. Rev. John R.H. Moorman, Bishop of Ripon, England; the Ven. Harold De Soysa, Archdeacon of Colombo, Ceylon, and rector of the Colombo Divinity School; the Rev. William J. Wolf, professor at the Episcopal Theological School at Cambridge, Mass. Substitutes: The Rt. Rev. Stanley W. Eley, Bishop of Gibralter; the Rt. Rev. Alpheus Zulu, Coadjutor Bishop of St. John’s, with headquarters in Umtata, South Africa; the Rev. Howard Root, dean of Emmanuel College, Cambridge University, England; and the Rev. Bernard C. Pawley, canon of Ely, England, cathedral and representative of the Anglican archbishops of Canterbury and York.
Lutheran World Federation — The Rev. Kristen E. Skydsgaard, professor of systematic theology at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark; Dr. George Lindbeck, professor of the history of theology at the Yale University Divinity School and acting research director of the Lutheran Institute of Interconfessional Research, Copenhagen; the Rev. Dr. Vilmos Vajta, director of the theological department of the Lutheran World Federation, Geneva. Substitutes: Bishop Sven Silen of Vasteras, Sweden, and the Rev. Warren Quanbeck, professor at the Lutheran theological seminary at St. Paul, Minn.
World Presbyterian Alliance — Pastor Hebert Roux of Paris, minister of the Reformed Church of France in charge of interconfessional relations; the Rev. Robert McAfee Brown of the United Presbyterian Church in the United States, professor of theology at Stanford University, Palo Alto, Calif.; and the Rev. Angus W. Morrison of the Church of Scotland, minister of the ancient Church of St. Ninian’s Priory, Whithorn, Scotland. Substitute: Dr. Vittorio Subilia, dean of the Waldensian Theological Faculty, Rome.
Evangelical (Lutheran) Church of Germany — Dr. Edmund Schlink, professor of dogmatics at the University of Heidelberg.
World Methodist Council — Bishop Fred Pierce Corson of Philadelphia, president of the World Methodist Council; the Rev. Albert C. Outler, professor of theology at Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Tex.; and the Rev. Harold Roberts, head of Richmond Theological College, Richmond, England. Substitutes: The Rev. Jose Miguez-Bonino, dean of the Evangelical theology school at Buenos Aires; the Rev. Robert E. Cushman, dean of the Duke University Divinity School, Durham, N.C.; and the Rev. David Alan Keighley, representative of the British Methodist Church in Italy.
International Congregational Council — The Rev. Douglas Horton, Randolph, N.H., former dean of the Harvard Divinity School and former moderator of the International Congregational Council; and the Rev. George B. Caird, senior tutor at Mansfield College, Oxford, England. Substitutes: The Rev. Heiko A. Oberman, professor of church history at the Harvard Divinity School; the Rev. Elmer J.F. Arndt, professor of historical theology and ethics at Eden Theological Seminary, Webster Groves, Mo.; and the Rev. Howard Schomer, president of the Chicago Theological Seminary.
Friends World Committee — Dr. Douglas V. Steere, professor of philosophy at Haverford College, Haverford, Pa.
World Convention of Churches of Christ (Disciples) — Dr. William George Baker, lecturer in practical theology at the Scottish Congregation College, Edinburgh.
International Association for Liberal Christianity — Dr. L.J. Van Holk, professor at the University of Leiden, the Netherlands; and Dr. Dana McLean Greeley, Boston, president of the Unitarian Universalist Association. Substitute: The Rev. George Williams of Harvard Divinity School.
Church of South India — The Rt. Rev. A.H. Legg, moderator of the Synod of the Church of South India, Trivandrum, India.
World Council of Churches — Dr. Lukas Vischer, Geneva, pastor of the Reformed Church of Switzerland and research secretary of the World Council’s Commission on Faith and Order; Dr. Nikos A. Nissiotis, associate director of the World Council’s Ecumenical Institute at Bossey, Switzerland; the Rt. Rev. John Sadig, Anglican Bishop of Nagpur, India; and the Rev. Masatoschi Doi of the United Church of Christ in Japan (Nippon Kirisuto Kyodan), professor of systematic theology and ecumenics at Doshisha University, Kyoto, Japan.
The following were listed as guests of the Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity:
Most Rev. Bishop Cassien, director of the Orthodox Theological Institute of St. Serge, Paris; the Very Rev. Archpriest Alexander Schmemann, dean of St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary, Yonkers, N.Y.; the Rev. G.C. Berkouwer, professor of the Free Protestant University of Amsterdam; the Rev. William A. Norgren, New York, director of Faith and Order studies of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States; the Rev. Oscar Cullmann, of the Universities of Basel, Switzerland, and Paris; Pastor Roger Schutz, prior of the Protestant religious community of Taize, France; Pastor Max Thurian, subprior of the Taize community; and the Rev. Stanley I. Stuber, Jefferson City, Mo.
Father Placid Jordan, O.S.B.
NC Rome correspondent