Growing Pressure to Expel Russian Orthodox Church from WCC

Growing Pressure to Expel Russian Orthodox Church from World Council of Churches

Lord Oystermouth, Rowan Williams, the former Archbishop of Canterbury caused quite a stir when he called on the World Council of Churches to expel the Russian Orthodox Church due to its support of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.  

The Religion News Service (RNS) from the US, now reports that 352 member churches agree with Rowan Williams’ call.  It is believed that the 352 jurisdictions account for approximately 580,000,000 Christians around the world.

The Acting General Secretary of the WCC, the Revd Ioan Sauca of the Romanian Orthodox Church disagrees with the call to oust the Russian Orthodox Church.   The Moscow-based Russian Orthodox Church is headed by the Patriarch Kirill. 

Kirill has been accused of having been a KGB operative before the fall of the Soviet Union.  He is a vocal supporter of the Russian President, Vladimir Putin.  Putin was a colonel in the KGB and served in East Germany before the re-unification of East and West Germany.

The Revd Robert Schenck, President of the Dietrich Bonhoeffer Institute, Washington, D.C., wrote in an editorial on the Religion News Service website, “Supporters of the effort to oust Kirill from the WCC believe he has disqualified the ecclesial entity he embodies by effectively endorsing Putin’s military campaign to annex Ukraine and failing to oppose the attendant mass violence against a peaceful nation, not only does Putin’s bloody and mostly Christian-on-Christian conflict subvert the WCC’s mission statement, but it stands in stark contradiction to and rejection of Jesus’ high priestly prayer to his heavenly Father, ‘that they may be one as we are one’ (John 17:11b).”

Williams was equally blunt.  He wrote, “When a church is actively supporting a war of aggression, failing to condemn nakedly obvious breaches in any kind of ethical conduct in wartime, then other churches do have the right to raise the question and challenge the church and to say, ‘Unless you can say … something recognisably Christian about this, we have to look again at your membership.”