The terminal politicization of the National Council of Churches has led a major Orthodox jurisdiction to throw in the towel. The Antiochian Orthodox Church, meeting for its bi-annual convention in Dearborn, Mich., has “voted overwhelmingly” to leave the ecumenical body led by Rev. Bob Edgar, a former Democrat congressman. The news has been posted on Touchstone Magazine’s Mere Comments blog, and was phoned in by a correspondent for Ancient Faith Radio who was on the scene in Dearborn.
Metropolitan Philip Saliba, hierarch of the church, has reportedly decided that any further relationship with the U.S. ecumenical body would be “fruitless.”
The Antiochians aren’t the only Orthodox jurisdiction that has acknowledged the NCC’s increasingly leftward tilt. At their own just-concluded conference in Toronto, the Orthodox Church in America also discussed the usefulness of the NCC but has not yet cut its ties. The statement that the OCA issued concerning its discussion of ecumenical relations was a collage of bureaucratic platitudes, mostly expressed in the passive voice, and no doubt indicative that the forces of the status quo were not giving up without a fight. When you read phrases such as “concerns … were expressed” and “it was noted” and “requires careful consideration and discernment” then you can bet that someone’s digging in the heels.
But the clear-sighted action that His Eminence Philip and the Antiochians are taking is a courageous move. Let’s hope more Orthodox follow, and separate their churches from the partisan activism and — let’s face it — Bush baiting that the NCC is known for.
For an excellent resource on the ecumenical disaster that is the National Council of Churches see OrthodoxyToday.org’s NCC Resource Page. Ancient Faith Radio is also planning to air an interview about the Antiochian pullout and its consequences with the Very Rev. Olof Scott, the newly-elected chairman of the Department of Interfaith Relationships, on Sunday, July 31, at 5 PM EDT.