ECUMENICAL MOVEMENT - (Ecumenism) An attempt by the Christian churches throughout the world to find some basis for the re-union of Christendom.
The Ecumenical Movement takes as its guiding principle the Protestant view of the Church. Protestants hold that there is no single truth and no single visible Church, but that each of the many Christian denominations possesses a particle of the truth, and that these relative truths can, by means of dialogue, lead to the One Truth and the One Church. One of the ways of attaining this unity, as perceived by the ideologues of the Ecumenical Movement, is the holding of joint prayers and religious services, so that in time communion from a common chalice (intercommunion) may be achieved.
Orthodoxy can never accept such an ecclesiology. It believes and bears witness that there is no need to assemble particles of the truth, since the Orthodox Church is the repository of the fullness of the Truth, which was given to Her on the day of Holy Pentecost. For the Orthodox, joint prayer and Communion at the liturgy is an expression of an already existing unity within the bounds of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. St. Irenaeus of Lyons (2nd century) concisely expressed this: "Our Faith is in accord with the Eucharist, and the Eucharist confirms our Faith." The Holy Fathers of the Church teach that the members of the Church comprise the Church - the Body of Christ - because in the Eucharist they partake of the Body and the Blood of Christ. Outside the Eucharist and Communion there is no Church. Communing together would be an admission that all those receiving Communion belong to the One Apostolic Church, whereas the realities of Christian history even of our time unfortunately point out the deep dogmatic and ecclesiastical division of the Christian world.
One has to welcome rejection of the age-old separation of Christians, but only if this is done with the objective of disclosing the treasures of Orthodoxy, to bring those who have fallen away from the Church back to unity in Orthodoxy.