Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, general secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC) honoured the legacy of the 4th-century Roman Emperor Constantine the Great, saying that Constantine promoted the values of religious freedom, peace and fruitful collaboration between the church and the state.
Tveit delivered this message in support of the 1700th anniversary celebrations of Constantine’s Edict of Milan, a document, which granted freedom and equal status to Christianity in the Roman Empire.
The celebrations are hosted by the Serbian Orthodox Church, a WCC member church, from 4 to 9 October in Belgrade, Nis and Podgorica.
The event is attended by church leaders from around the world, including Bartholomew I, Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and Archbishop Sava of Warsaw on invitation from Patriarch Irinej of the Serbian Orthodox Church.
“We, as Christians living at the beginning of the 21st Century and having a tremendous legacy of more than two thousand years of Christian history, are called today to stand for peace as a universal value and to call the people of all religions to join our efforts for promoting a just peace,” said Tveit in his message for the celebrations.
Constantine’s “legacy is still helping to determine the Church-state relationships in Europe and elsewhere,” Tveit added.
The WCC general secretary also spoke about the WCC’s upcoming assembly, which he said will provide an opportunity for the churches to “reflect more deeply on values like justice and peace as gifts of the God of Life, whose worshipers in the Roman Empire were granted freedom 1700 years ago by Constantine the Great”.
The WCC assembly will take place from 30 October to 8 November in Busan, Republic of Korea.