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WCC offers space for churches to approach social and ethical issues together

03 October 2003

Christians from Orthodox and Protestant traditions will reflect together on how churches approach social and ethical issues during an 8-12 October World Council of Churches' (WCC) seminar in Morges, Switzerland.  

Around 30 participants from WCC member churches, Christian World Communions, regional ecumenical organizations, and university and theological centres will use case studies from Orthodox and Protestant church contexts to look at differences and similarities in how churches reflect on and respond to moral issues facing society today.  

The case studies will lead into discussion on the following four themes:

*  the church and social and political ethics;

*  the church and problems of bio-ethics and ecology;

*  the church and personal and public morality;

*  international relations; problems of globalization. 

Approaches to social and ethical issues were one of the major areas addressed by the Special Commission on Orthodox Participation in the World Council of Churches.  

The Commission's final report, received by the 2002 meeting of the WCC central committee, noted that one of the reasons the Commission had been created was the "dissatisfaction" of some Orthodox churches and others with how such issues were dealt with in the WCC. 

But the report also reaffirmed that the WCC is "a vital forum for raising and reflecting together on moral issues", and encouraged it to "continue to provide opportunities for all churches to consult with one another, and wherever possible, for them to speak together". 

In this spirit, the principal case study during the seminar will be "The Orthodox Church and society: the basis of the social concept of the Russian Orthodox Church" - a pastoral document adopted by the ROC Jubilee Bishops' Council. 

The seminar is considered as the first in a series designed to provide a space for the churches themselves to discuss their different views, decision-making processes and actions together in concrete terms.