World Council of Churches

A worldwide fellowship of churches seeking unity, a common witness and Christian service

Orthodox participation in the WCC

01 September 1998

Orthodox Task Force, September 1998

The following paper was requested by the WCC's Staff Executive Group, and received at the Executive Committee meeting in Amersfoort in September 1998. Its intention was to help interpret events and issues, as well as offer an invitation to further the dialogue concerning the relationship between the Orthodox churches and the WCC. The Task Force sought in this paper to reflect what our churches have been telling us through their actions and words, as well as to present these issues in their broader context, both in the world and in the wider membership of the WCC. The final section of this paper features concrete suggestions for furthering the dialogue.

I. Introduction: the current crisis

In April of 1998 an inter-Orthodox meeting was convened in Thessaloniki, Greece, by the Ecumenical Patriarchate. This meeting of Eastern Orthodox churches came as a response to the request of the Russian and Serbian Orthodox Churches, and to the withdrawal of the Georgian Orthodox Church from the membership of the WCC. The report of this meeting reflects broad support for dialogue and inter-Christian activity, seeing this as a part of the Church's mission. At the same time, it expresses serious concern over the way in which the ecumenical task is being addressed by the WCC. The Orthodox delegates at Thessaloniki recommend that while all Orthodox churches should send delegations to the WCC's Eighth Assembly, their participation should be strictly limited in order to demonstrate the measure of their concern. The report concludes by underlining that "these mandates will be maintained until a radical restructuring of the WCC is accomplished to allow adequate Orthodox participation", and suggesting the creation of a Mixed Theological Commission in order to discuss the forms that such a restructuring might take.

Both the affirmations and the concerns coming out of Thessaloniki can be heard in the reports of several other inter-Orthodox meetings of 1998. The Orthodox Pre-Assembly Meeting, organized by the Orthodox Task Force (Damascus, May 1998), while affirming the calling of ecumenism as a "Gospel imperative", also saw "the need for change which would enable a more effective presence and witness, together with a more constructive and engaged participation from the Orthodox". The report made reference to several models for restructuring currently being discussed, and recommended these to the Mixed Theological Commission for their reflection. It also sought to explain Orthodox discomforts with the WCC agenda as well as difficulties in participating in ecumenical worship services. The Pre-Assembly meeting is significant in that, unlike the Thessaloniki meeting, it consisted in delegates from both Eastern and Oriental Orthodox churches. It thus became apparent that the Oriental churches share the same concerns as the Eastern churches, even if they have not as yet gathered to express them as sharply as have the Eastern churches.

Statements from other Orthodox meetings of recent months, in Romania and in the USA, continue along the same lines, affirming the commitment to ecumenism and citing a crisis and the need for change in the WCC.1 These most recent expressions of alarm do not come from nowhere; they must be seen against the background of recent events, both sociopolitical and within the life of the churches, as well as in the light of concerns expressed repeatedly (and increasingly) by the Orthodox about the life of the WCC in the past few years, if not decades. Indeed, it was precisely as a response to such events and misgivings about the Council that the Central Committee of the WCC (September 1997) requested "that the Executive Committee design and implement a procedure for conducting a dialogue on the Orthodox churches' participation in and contribution to the life of the WCC", and the papers offered by the Orthodox Task Force are to be seen as a contribution to that dialogue.

The seriousness of the crisis in Orthodox-WCC relations is apparent not only in the reports mentioned above, but more acutely in the 1997 withdrawal from the WCC of the Church of Georgia, together with the recent announcement of the impending withdrawal of the Church of Bulgaria. Voices within many Orthodox churches, in particular lately those of Serbia and Russia, call for immediate withdrawal from the Council, and the Church of Jerusalem, although participating in local ecumenism, has for years abstained from sending delegates to WCC meetings. In addition, several leading ecumenists from Orthodox churches are showing their increased dissatisfaction with the state of the Council by quietly diminishing or curtailing their personal participation in its life. Taken as a whole, the above describes a serious situation where the very fellowship of the WCC is at stake.

The Thessaloniki meeting sounded a particularly resonant alarm, one which resonated with signals from other churches and gatherings from both Eastern and Oriental families. This alarm received an immediate response on the part of the Moderator of the Central Committee, Catholicos Aram I. His Holiness Aram moved to set into motion without delay the Mixed Theological Commission recommended by Thessaloniki. The Eastern Orthodox churches responded with a request for more time, in order better to secure and articulate inter-Orthodox consensus on the best ways forward.

II. An ecumenical problem

The present situation, most often described as an "Orthodox problem" or an "Orthodox crisis", demands a more careful analysis and a more objective characterization. There is no doubt that there are a number of difficulties particular to the Orthodox churches. Surely some of the recent historical, pastoral, theological and missiological developments in the lives and witness of local Orthodox churches play a significant role in the present state of Orthodox participation in the ecumenical movement and Orthodox relations with the WCC.

However, whatever the origins of the attitude which the Orthodox have come to adopt, there is not a single concern emanating from Orthodox quarters that is uniquely Orthodox. All the questions being raised by the Orthodox churches can be seen to resonate with analogous dissatisfactions in non-Orthodox churches. (Furthermore, the chief concerns being raised pertain to the WCC in its relationship to all its member churches.) Indications of the cross-denominational character of the crisis include:

  1. a continuing disengagement in the real agenda of the WCC on the part of many member churches -- this is testified, e.g., by the responses to the CUV process, which are widely inconsistent both qualitatively and quantitatively across the entire denominational spectrum of the churches;

  2. the perceived need for "radical restructuring" felt recently by several regional ecumenical organizations (e.g., Council of Churches of Britain and Ireland, Canadian Council of Churches), in order better to serve and represent a wider range of churches;

  3. the difficulties of other churches, perhaps most notably the Roman Catholic Church, with the "ecclesiological challenge" posed by the WCC;

  4. the difficulty experienced by many churches, including perhaps especially African churches, in endorsing a WCC discussion on issues of human sexuality;

  5. new developments, both positive and negative, in the Evangelical world, as seen e.g. in the non participation in the WCC of the Baptists in Russia.

The issues arising out of the Orthodox world therefore find reflection in the concerns of other churches and councils. Still, while this paper, emerging as it does from the Orthodox Task Force, will continue to express itself in terms of Orthodox concerns, it is clear that the current crisis is not only an Orthodox problem but an ecumenical problem.

III. Root causes

(i) Orthodox understanding and practice of ecumenism. In 1981, the Sofia Consultation offered the following reminder:

It should be recognized that from the very beginning the participation of the Orthodox in the WCC has not been an easy task. This is especially due to the peculiar structural framework of the Council, in which Orthodox theology could not always find its way. The affiliation of the local Orthodox churches in the WCC at different times and for reasons proper to each Church, as well as the absence of an integrated Orthodox approach vis-à-vis the Council and the ecumenical movement did not ease the situation.

The purpose of Orthodox participation in the ecumenical movement has always been to give witness to the unity of the Church, as experienced by the local Orthodox churches. In other words, Orthodox offered themselves, right from the beginning, an "ecclesiological challenge". Recognizing -- and constantly reminding their partners -- that the main ecumenical problem is that of division rather than unity, they decided to participate in the ecumenical movement and the ecumenical organizations from within and to adopt a constructively critical attitude.

It is true that Orthodox theology -- and one should add here "ecclesiology" -- "could not always find its way" in the Council. One visible result of this rift has been the practice of issuing separate statements before or after major ecumenical meetings, and the later practice of holding Orthodox consultations before major ecumenical gatherings.

With regard to "the structural framework of the Council", the Thessaloniki report refers, both explicitly and implicitly, to Orthodox positions and concerns with a long history. An equitable Orthodox participation, for example, including its tangible expression through decision-making and voting processes, has been repeatedly requested by the Orthodox, at least since the Sofia Consultation (1981). The issue of Orthodox participation "on equal footing" was highlighted by the First Pre-Conciliar Panorthodox Conference (1986) as one of the "points requiring immediate action" already at that time. The Orthodox understanding of prayer in ecumenical meetings could also be traced back to the Third World Conference of Faith and Order in Lund (1952), while the new difficulties in this area were mentioned in the Chambésy Consultation report (1995).

It is also true that "the absence of an integrated Orthodox approach vis-à-vis the Council and the ecumenical movement did not ease the situation". One should raise the question, however, to what extent Orthodox attempts in formulating their concerns have been taken seriously and received honest response from their ecumenical partners. To limit ourselves to most recent examples, Orthodox statements made during and after the Canberra Assembly (1991), as well as the report of the Chambésy consultation (1995) have been seen as "Orthodox reactions" rather than as an expression of a genuine ecumenical concern.

(ii) Recent developments in Central and Eastern Europe. Changes in Central and Eastern Europe, where the great majority of Orthodox Christians are situated, have drastically affected the lives of nations and peoples living in this geographical area of our world. The hopes of the first years were soon followed by serious concerns and existential questions. The unprecedented changes in political, social and economic life influenced the reading of history, the cultural heritage and, ultimately, the religious identity of nations and peoples. The fall of communism resulted both in renewed opportunity and spiritual renaissance, as well as in retrogression and wall-building.

In part, both the positive and the negative results of political change have arisen out of the sincere and genuine struggle to define, protect and live one's own religious identity. Two phenomena have posed particular challenges to ecumenical ways of thinking. Firstly, the combination of an increasingly free market, both in commodities and in thought, together with the erosion of cultural boundaries ("globalization") fostered an increase in fundamentalism spanning across denominational lines. Secondly, the religious expansionism and proselytism (real or perceived) that has been made possible by looser political boundaries has brought the reaction of confessional protectionism. (Interestingly, although the political changes described do not directly touch the West, the same trends of fundamentalism and confessional protectionism can be felt in the Orthodox "diaspora" in the West.) The reaction from the ecumenical community to these realities needs to be one of understanding and support, to the extent that these can even be received.

(iii) Reflection process on the "Common Understanding and Vision of the WCC". When the CUV was adopted at the September 1997 Central Committee, the introduction to the Policy Statement underlined that member churches and ecumenical partners were now invited further to consider both the content and the implications of the document. In fact, there were a number of key issues which would need subsequent study and clarification. Some of these issues were raised -- particularly although not exclusively -- by Orthodox churches. Some examples include:

  • the nature of the fellowship or koinonia which is still the aim and not a given reality;
  • relationships between unity and diversity (the question of "tolerable limits to diversity");
  • the understanding of "ecumenism";
  • the meaning of membership in an ecumenical organization;
  • forms of election and representation;
  • the formation of the ecumenical agenda;
  • the understanding of "local ecumenism" and its implications for WCC membership.

It is obvious that the need for further clarification in these key areas amplifies the underlying uncertainties in the relations of Orthodox churches with the WCC.

Any of the above mentioned issues, taken in isolation from the others or from its appropriate historical perspective, would not justify the extent of the present reaction. One should however take into consideration the factor of accumulation -- namely an accumulation in time, as most of these issues have been continuously raised in the past, in quantity -- there are, after all, a considerable number of issues, and finally in terms of importance, as most of these questions relate to the very essence of the Council and to all its member churches.

In this context we need to be reminded again that it is not only the Orthodox who are suggesting "change" or even "radical change". The CUV both identifies and fosters reflection and change throughout the Christian ecumenical scene. In the area of ecumenical partnership for example, several member churches are raising the question of how the membership of the Roman Catholic Church could be encouraged and facilitated through changes in WCC structure and self-conception.2 The creation of a Joint Working Group in order to monitor relationships with Pentecostals is another change stemming from the new understanding of ecumenical partnership as described by the CUV text. Similarly, some of the Christian World Communions have suggested structural changes which could allow a better coordination between their decision making bodies, especially by holding "assemblies" together. Regional ecumenical organizations, as stated above, also have proposed structural changes which would enhance cooperation with the WCC and coordination of ecumenical activities deployed by partner ecumenical organizations.

We have pointed above to three broad areas of church and ecumenical life which have contributed to the current state of affairs in the relationship between the WCC and the Orthodox churches. In (i) we described several issues, each with its own history, directly related to the WCC. These include the consistent, and lately increasing, dissatisfaction concerning representation at all levels of the Council's life (the processes and discussions which set the agenda of the WCC are seen to be conducted on an un-level playing field), the persistence of the "ecclesiological problem" due to insensitivities on all sides, and the increasing difficulty of ecumenical worship. In (ii) we turned to problems within the churches, examining the changes, both positive and negative, which have stemmed from the enormous sociopolitical changes of the past decade, especially in Central and Eastern Europe. Finally, in (iii) we drew attention to issues arising out of the CUV process which have important implications for all the WCC member churches, as well as non-member churches.

The acute need for change in the WCC's structure, life and self-conception which is currently receiving such vocal expression from the Orthodox churches needs to be considered in this broad perspective. The issues outlined above stem both from the life of the churches and from the life of the Council. It can certainly be stated that the Council's spiritual and material support of the churches experiencing upheaval in the face of sociopolitical change, is deeply appreciated and needs to continue. What then can be said about the Council's life, its modus operandi, its structure, its self-understanding, that help it better serve its member churches, in particular the Orthodox churches?

IV. The WCC as a structure

Structures are the means by which the Council seeks at a given moment of its life to manifest effectively its reality as a fellowship of churches. They constitute the basic shape of the Council, the framework for particular working arrangements. Changes in this framework neither replace the insights nor deny the values of what has gone before, but rather reflect the continuing dialogue of understanding and visions. (CUV 3.14) This affirmation of the Policy Statement places the issue of structures in the perspective of the "fellowship of churches", points to the need for a continuing dialogue among the member churches, and confirms that the CUV process is only a first step, or only in its initial stages, and therefore the discussion needs to continue beyond the next Assembly. Below are some of the issues directly related to the WCC as a "structure" which need further attention.

(i) Membership and representation. The continually growing numbers of Protestant member churches, recorded and welcomed by the Policy Statement, was identified long ago as a serious problem for the Orthodox. A "25% rule" of Orthodox participation had been instituted in recognition of the fact that there are different ecclesiologies operating in the Orthodox and Protestant worlds, resulting in the wide discrepancy between the number of local Orthodox churches and Protestant churches. (This discrepancy does not at all reflect the actual membership of these churches.)3 The Policy Statement, however, dealt with the issue of the "meaning of membership" only in terms of the mutual accountability of member churches within the fellowship, leaving open the issue of Protestant-Orthodox balances and the dynamics created by an increased sense of marginalization on the part of the Orthodox.

(ii) Representation and participation. Aside from the fact that the "25% rule" is a simple "working hypothesis" and not a constitutional provision, it should be clear that the nature of "ecclesial/confessional" representation and participation needs to be approached differently from any other categories reflected in sociological and geographical terms. As has been stated in the previous paper from the Orthodox Task Force, the Orthodox find it perplexing to be seen and dealt with within "quota" terms alongside "women", "youth", or people from certain geographical regions. In previous documents and in their responses to CUV, Orthodox churches underlined that three major issues have to be studied carefully in this area: (a) Orthodox participation "on equal footing"; (b) an Orthodox participation which would allow a qualitative contribution to the WCC; (c) a mode of election of Orthodox representatives which would satisfy not only the rules of the WCC as a "structure" but also the ecclesiological criteria of the Orthodox as members of the institution. All three of these issues will require a serious and honest appraisal of the ways in which programmes are in fact decided and agendas are in fact set within the life of the Council.

(iii) Decision-making. Being a minority within the WCC as a structure, although they together represent one of the two main ecclesial, theological and historical traditions within the fellowship, Orthodox churches face an additional problem in the area of decision-making. It has been commonly accepted that the present rules and regulations with regard to decision making procedures derive their inspiration and origin mainly from the political logic of a western, specifically Presbyterian tradition. The Orthodox are not the only ones to highlight this fact. Discussion on this question has already begun in the Central Committee as a part of CUV. Yet the Orthodox are seeking to remind the Council that structural and institutional logic cannot be isolated from the fact that a "fellowship of churches" needs to develop its own mechanisms grounded in the ecclesial traditions it represents.

Furthermore, it is becoming increasingly apparent within many member churches that important policy decisions are made under the influence of an unregulated combination of church-elected governing bodies on the one hand, and formal and informal consultative groups on the other. This situation is of concern to all the member churches insofar as the churches themselves feel increasingly distanced from the Council's operations.

V. The WCC as a fellowship of churches

The Policy Statement, using an expression suggested by an Orthodox Church, defines the nature of the fellowship experienced by member churches within the WCC as an "ecclesiological challenge". Undoubtedly, the challenge lies in the fact that the two ecclesiologies operating within the WCC -- Protestant4 and Orthodox -- differ significantly, making koinonia more a goal than a reality.

(i) Membership and Orthodox ecclesiology. The meaning of membership in the WCC is well set out in the CUV, but theological and ecclesiological issues arise from certain realities apparent from the list of WCC member churches. So far Orthodox churches have joined the membership as local churches, while (at least until recently) the entirety of Orthodoxy was present in the Council. Today some Orthodox Churches accept the present status of membership, based on the understanding of "local churches", but point to the fact that the ecclesiological challenge of an Orthodox-Protestant co-existence within the WCC should be reviewed and the growing Orthodox marginalization should be overcome. Other Orthodox Churches raise the question whether Orthodoxy should become a member of the WCC as "one" universal Church, or as "one family" of local churches. Yet, other Orthodox churches challenge the fact that so far the only way of belonging to the "fellowship" is through formal "membership", and point to the need of looking for new ways of being related to the WCC.

(ii) Membership and Protestant denominationalism. The question of Protestant denominationalism has been raised by the Orthodox both within the WCC and in their bilateral theological dialogues. The denominational consciousness of the Protestant side creates a fundamental difference of "ethos" within the Council as a "fellowship of churches". What are the implications of the de facto fellowship between Protestant denominations when they participate in the life of the Council as a "fellowship of churches"? While the practice of inter-communion between Protestant churches confirms the de facto fellowship, their refusal to be considered as one confessional family within the WCC seems to contradict it. Orthodox churches, therefore, question the implications of the bilateral relations between Protestant denominations in the context of the multilateral dialogue within the WCC. They also call to mind that when discussing both the ecumenical methodology and the ecumenical agenda, Orthodox or Roman Catholic traditions (including ecclesiologies and "ethos") are of a different character from Protestant denominationalism. These are some of the ecclesiological issues which have to be taken seriously as a follow-up to the CUV reflection process, in order to carry forward the understanding of the WCC as a "fellowship of churches".

(iii) Membership and local ecumenism. The WCC has expressed its joy at new developments and convergences within the Protestant world, especially in Europe (Porvoo, Leuenberg, Meissen). However, the fact that many Protestant churches of the same ecclesial and theological tradition are accepted as members of the WCC from the same region or country raises a number of questions from the Orthodox perspective. What does local ecumenism mean for Protestant churches of the same historical tradition dwelling together in one region? What is the understanding of a local (Protestant) church "truly united?"

VI. Models under discussion

Given the importance and scope of the issues as raised above, the current crisis cannot be solved through dialogue and negotiation with the WCC as a structure, i.e., with the General Secretary and staff, but rather with the WCC as a fellowship of churches, i.e., with the full participation of representatives of Protestant member churches. Both sides will need to accept the challenge addressed to their understanding of "unity" and their understanding of the ultimate purpose of conciliar coexistence in the WCC. The CUV policy statement, though an important document, is probably not enough to address the current ecumenical crisis facing the Council, in part because to a certain extent most of the questions arise from the CUV itself. Furthermore, many feel that the CUV document and the current internal restructuring, if taken as the final word and not the beginning of a deeper and more thoroughgoing process, represent "a realignment of deck chairs on the Titanic".

The call for a Mixed Theological Commission is therefore an appropriate one, provided that the Orthodox not see themselves as negotiating with the WCC, but rather, together with those Protestant churches which are her partners, in a dialogue concerning the WCC.

There are many discussions going on at present concerning possible models and ways of representation. What is necessary is a careful consideration of these possibilities in the light of the history of the ecumenical movement, (including the rationale for the present structure), and in the light of the most recent developments in institutional ecumenism at the regional and national levels. The models that are currently in discussion -- and as yet there is no panOrthodox consensus on them -- fall roughly into two categories, addressing different areas of concern.

A) Particularly in order to address the problem of representation, there are proposals to have the churches represented on WCC governing bodies according to "Church families". The main questions surrounding such proposals concern what would constitute a church family. It is for example unrealistic to consider all non-Orthodox and non-Roman Catholic churches as one family. The realization of this model would surely require careful reflection, with the possibility of adjustment as it becomes lived out.

B) Particularly to address the ecclesiological problem, models are proposed which would qualitatively de-stress the character of membership. For example, there are efforts to interpret the "Forum of Christian Churches and Ecumenical Organizations",5 stating either that the WCC organize such a forum (although possibly of churches and not ecumenical organizations) as a "second chamber" to itself (hence the name "bicameral model"), or that the Council in fact become such a forum. This would address the tension and the countless misunderstandings arising from the different ecclesiological self-understandings of participating churches.

It needs to be noted that the models in both these categories carry the potential of widening the ecumenical fellowship in the WCC to include large bodies of current non-member churches, notably the Roman Catholic Church and churches of the Pentecostal family (cf. CUV 4.11; 4.12). Naturally, all their implications need further exploration within, among and between the churches.

VII. Suggestions for furthering the dialogue

It was stated at the outset of this paper that its tasks include not only interpretation and analysis, but also invitation to dialogue. Such a dialogue is envisioned on three levels: within the WCC "House" (i.e., among staff), within and between the churches, and within WCC governing bodies and consultative groups. Following are some suggestions for a methodology and process, offered for reflection by the SEG and the Executive Committee.

(i) Dialogue on the staff level
The purposes of in-House dialogue could include:

  • initiation of a constructive way forward;
  • sharing of information and insight between colleagues;
  • clarification of misunderstandings;
  • assessment of how Orthodox concerns are being received in Protestant circles;
  • reporting of resulting insights to WCC governing bodies and churches.

The form and function of a staff group to this end could be loosely based, in composition and methodology, on the consultative group formed to prepare for and debrief from the Antelias meeting. Such a group could build on previous experience, evaluate the current situation and monitor developments, and account for the issues raised in the current paper. Additionally, consideration could be given to strategies for communication with Orthodox and Protestant member churches and Assembly delegates, to inform them of the issues raised and the discussions which are already taking place. The consultative group could also advise concerning visits to Orthodox churches, arranged with the GS and other members of staff.

(ii) Dialogue in the churches
It is vitally important not only for the WCC to listen carefully to the voices of its member churches, but also for the member churches to listen to each other. This paper has indicated certain concerns which are common both to Orthodox as well as some Protestant member churches, with regard to the structures of the WCC and the present situation of the ecumenical movement. It was attempted in this way to illustrate the parameters of the current problem, which go beyond the Orthodox churches alone, and to go beyond the reflex reaction of Protestant-Orthodox polarization. More needs to be done, within the context of dialogue, to bring to the forefront the concerns which might be held across denominational lines.

Yet there are other categories of issues, notably dealing with ecclesiological questions, where there is a more prominent divide between Orthodox and Protestant. It is therefore all the more imperative to invite Protestant member churches to consider issues raised by the Orthodox, especially when these refer to Protestant ecclesiological perceptions that shape the structure of the WCC. The Orthodox need to be ready to take Protestant responses seriously into consideration, in the spirit of an open and creative dialogue.

The starting point of such a dialogue could therefore be twofold:

  • prepare a careful and comprehensive inventory of concerns shared by both Orthodox and Protestant member churches, including those areas and issues where representatives of Protestant member churches have openly expressed their sympathy with Orthodox positions without necessarily subscribing fully to them;
  • identify and communicate Protestant responses and reactions to concerns so far expressed by the Orthodox, with the aim of pointing to the nature of the dialogue and perceiving the issues which could form an agenda.

(iii) Dialogue in the Executive Committee It is hoped that the Executive Committee could discuss and receive the present paper, consider the suggestions with regard to a possible methodology, and mandate the WCC staff (the GS, the OTF, an ad hoc mixed staff group) to follow up.

On the basis of these suggestions and their potential outcome, the Executive Committee could also consider whether it would be appropriate to include in the Assembly agenda a carefully prepared discussion on Orthodox concerns.

The Executive Committee might give particular attention to anticipating measures and responses in the event of the abstention of any member churches from presenting candidates to the Central Committee and other governing bodies, as the Thessaloniki document can appear to suggest. The WCC staff group may therefore be mandated to study and prepare appropriate measures.

It needs to be made clear that any suggestions made by the OTF above are not intended to replace preparatory work which may be initiated by Orthodox churches towards the Mixed Theological Commission. The intention is only to anticipate, serve and facilitate these efforts. It may be appropriate to the same end that the Executive Committee also anticipate and recommend measures for the pre-Assembly period, the Assembly itself and the post-Assembly period.

Notes

  1. See, for example, the texts collected in Turn to God - Rejoice in Hope: Orthodox Reflections On the Way to Harare (Geneva: WCC/OTF, 1998).
  2. For example, the 1998 Lambeth Conference has just recommended "a radical reassessment of the basis and categories of membership in the WCC, and what changes in the WCC would be required to make it possible for the Roman Catholic Church to be a full member" (Section IV Resolutions).
  3. At the moment, 22 of the WCC's 328 member churches are Orthodox, and yet their combined baptised membership constitutes about half of that of the entire WCC.
  4. For the purposes of this paper we are using the term "Protestant" to include Anglicans and Protestants.
  5. Cf. Minutes of the Central Committee 1997, p. 89.