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Metropolitan Damaskinos of Andrianople

Tribute by WCC general secretary Olav Fykse Tveit

09 November 2011

To H.E. Metropolitan Jeremy of Switzerland
Archdiocese of Switzerland

Geneva, 9 November 2011

 

Your Eminence,

It is with deep sadness that we have been informed of the passing of the late Metropolitan Damaskinos (Papandreou) of Andrianople, formerly Metropolitan of Switzerland, director of the Orthodox Centre of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Chambésy, Geneva, and Secretary of the preparation of the Great and Holy Council of the Orthodox Church.

Please accept my most sincere condolences and kindly convey my expression of deep sorrow both to His All Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and to the clergy and laity of your Diocese entrusted to the late Metropolitan Damaskinos upon its creation.

We, in the World Council of Churches, give thanks to the God of life for the life and work of Metropolitan Damaskinos, the world-renowned theologian, the eminent professor, the prolific writer, the respected church leader, the beloved pastor and esteemed ecumenist who, for several decades, had been one of the protagonists in the scene of the global ecumenical movement and the area of inter-orthodox relations.

We give thanks for the role he played, as a pioneer, in promoting dialogue in all forms and at all levels, in providing fresh, challenging and forward looking theological and ecumenical reflection and in opening new avenues and creating new bridges for relationships among churches and with people of other faiths.

Metropolitan Damaskinos will be remembered with gratitude in our fellowship of churches for his precious contribution to the ecumenical movement. Undoubtedly, many of his fellow bishops, professors or disciples will depict and praise his personality and analyze the importance of his entire work.  Today, to honour the blessed memory of the late Metropolitan Damaskinos, I would simply like to express our appreciation, highlighting some of his many activities which have, particularly, enriched and enhanced the work of the World Council of Churches.

In the very early stage of the bilateral theological dialogues, Metropolitan Damaskinos worked very closely with Faith and Order. He was among those who encouraged, accompanied and gave shape to the first steps of churches in the path of the bilateral theological dialogues. He hosted and facilitated many of them at the Orthodox Centre. He chaired two of them, i.e. the dialogues of the Eastern Orthodox Church with the Oriental Orthodox and the Old Catholic Churches. In a memorable publication on The Theological Dialogue, he analyzed the foundations of the dialogues, documented their results, commented on their development throughout the years, and offered his views on both their potential and their difficulties.

Implementing a recommendation of the 5th Assembly of the World Council of Churches, held in Nairobi, Metropolitan Damaskinos made all possible efforts to deepen the issue of the common celebration of Easter and brought to the attention of the 2nd Preconciliar Panorthodox Conference one of the most complete files on this matter. In the subsequent years, the WCC was largely encouraged and inspired by the excellent ground work of Metropolitan Damaskinos.

In times when any attempt to encourage and promote inter-religious dialogue would normally meet with skepticism if not hard criticism, Metropolitan Damaskinos opened new avenues for the Orthodox Church, particularly for the younger generation, to encounter both Islam and Judaism.

Last but not least, Metropolitan Damaskinos was committed to ecumenical formation. Not only did he teach in Catholic and Protestant faculties, but he enlarged and enriched the activities of the Orthodox Centre in Chambésy Geneva creating an Institute of Orthodox Theology in close cooperation with the Faculties of Theology of Geneva (Protestant) and Fribourg (Catholic).

We sincerely mourn the loss of a hierarch of the Church of Constantinople who was one of the most eloquent examples of the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s commitment to the ecumenical movement.

May he repose in peace. May the God of life and resurrection receive him in the eternal life of his kingdom. May his memory be eternal and a blessed inspiration for generations and times to come in the ecumenical movement.

Yours in our common Lord, crucified and risen,

Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit
General secretary