2005-06-21 09:52:23

3. Orthodox witness before the non-Orthodox world

3.1. The Orthodox Church is the guardian of the Tradition and the grace-filled gifts of the Early Church. Her primary task, therefore, in her relations with non-Orthodox confessions is to bear continuous and persistent witness which will lead to the truth expressed in this Tradition becoming understandable and acceptable. According to the Third Pre-Conciliar Panorthodox Conference (1986): "The Orthodox Church, in her profound conviction and ecclesiastical consciousness of being the bearer of and the witness to the faith and tradition of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, firmly believes that she occupies a central place in matters relating to the promotion of Christian unity within the contemporary world:It is the mission and duty of the Orthodox Church to transmit, in all its fullness, the truth contained in the Holy Scripture and the Holy Tradition, the truth which gives to the Church her universal character. The responsibility of the Orthodox Church, as well as her ecumenical mission regarding Church unity, were expressed by the Ecumenical Councils. These, in particular, stressed the indissoluble link existing between true faith and sacramental communion. The Orthodox Church has always sought to draw the different Christian Churches and confessions into a joint search for the lost unity of Christians, so that all might reach the unity of faith:"

3.2. The task of the Orthodox witness is entrusted to every member of the Church. Orthodox Christians should clearly realise that the faith they preserve and confess has a global and universal character. The Church is not only called to teach her children, but also to witness to the truth before those who have left her. "How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?" (Rom. 10:14). The duty of Orthodox Christians is to bear witness to the truth that has been entrusted to the Church for ever, since, according to St. Paul, "we are labourers together with God" (1 Cor. 3:9).