Some Eastern Orthodox material online accuses their fellow Orthodox churches, both Chalcedonian and non-Chalcedonian, of an "ecclesiological heresy" called "ecumenism" because of involvement with the WCC. What is 'ecumenism' and what does the Coptic Church think of these accusations?
It surprises me that some Eastern Orthodox Churches regard ecumenism as a heresy.
From the very beginning of Christianity St. Paul instructs the Ephesians saying, “Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism” (Eph 4:3-5) and also “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God (Eph 4:11-13).
How can we achieve this unity of faith if the different denominations do not meet together and try to solve their differences?
The word 'ecumenism' is derived from the Greek word oikoumene which means "the whole inhabited earth". It is particularly interested in the true being and life of the church as an inclusive community, in each and all places.
Ecumenism, by definition, is the movement of Christian Churches in order to promote cooperation and better understanding among different religious denominations; aiming at universal Christian unity and love as willed by our Lord Jesus Christ.
The need to recover baptismal unity is at the heart of the ecumenical task as it is central to the realization of genuine partnership within the Christian communities.
Being part of the WCC does not mean that we are jeopardizing our Orthodoxy. On the contrary, we are trying to get the other denominations to understand Christianity the way we do. Ecumenism is the openness to listen to others’ opinions and have frank discussions while trying to reach solutions to the issues at hand.