2006-02-27 09:52:00

Victor Pokrovsky.
The World Council of Churches - where is its place in the new world?

The 9th General Assembly of the World Council of Churches has marked a certain turn in the policy of this world largest Christian international organization. ‘Ecumenical prayers’ have become more moderate; anti-Western rhetoric has abated. The principal vector however has remained the same: the WCC continues to be a predominantly left-wing liberal forum critical of the WMF and the World Bank, supportive of the ‘Third World’ in its opposition to the United States and fearful of the consequences the globalization’ and the ‘war on terror’ have for human rights.

In this light the election of Rev. Walter Altmann to the prominent post of Moderator of the WCC Central Committee is not surprising at all. This elderly proponent of the ‘theology of liberation’, who has become a cover face for WCC leaflets, reinforces the left-wing image of the organization.

All this poses the serious question before the Council: Will it be able in the foreseeable future to keep claiming the role of the ‘Christian UN’, or will it continue its marginalization?

Represented today in the Council are only one fourth of the Christians in the world. There are no Catholics and most of the Pentecostals and Evangelicals in it. The Orthodox, after the recent organizational changes, feel themselves more comfortable in the WCC as the full participation of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem has been restored and observers have come from the Bulgarian Church, which pulled out of the WCC some time ago. The natural conservatism of Orthodoxy however compels its followers to treat many of the ecumenical novelties stiffly, if not negatively. Let us not forget that the relations between the Orthodox and the Lutheran and Anglican Churches, who play the central role in the WCC, have declined as never before because of the female priesthood, the ordination of open homosexuals and the blessing of same-sex marriages.

As a result, the poor representative nature of the WCC and the persistence of left-wing tendencies in it will most probably lead to attempts to set up a new world Christian forum, which would include not only the Orthodox and liberal Protestants, but also Catholics as well as Pentecostals and other Protestant conservatives. The nearest attempt of this kind will be made in late 2007 when it is planned to hold a world all-Christian congress including diverse confessions. Neither proponents of the ‘theology of liberation’ nor defenders of sexual minorities will have a majority in it.