A document outlining grievances that the Orthodox Church of Greece has against the World Council of Churches will be the basis for consultation between the two bodies. A time and place for such consulation still might be determined.
The differences, according to the statement from the Greek church, are fundamental and of long standing.
The church statement was delivered to WCC general secretary Philip Potter and Anglican Church of Canada Archbishop Edward W. Scott, moderator of the WCC Central Committee, when the two met with Archbishop Seraphim of Athens and all Greece and members of the church's foreign affairs committee in Athens last May.
The Greek church document describe the WCC as essentially a Protestant organization that does not adequately allow for or accept the distinctive characteristics of its Orthodox member bodies.
In the Greek view, the basic purpose of the WCC is to unite the Protestant world, with cooperation and coordinator in missionary efforts and social action leading to agreements on faith and church order.
The document says member denominations have little direct control over WCC activities, and says Orthodox voting power is about 15 percent, proportionately considerably less than Orthodox membership included among WCC members.
The Greeks say the commitment of the WCC "ecumenical nobility" to a united church has meant insensitivity to the peculiarities and particularities of member churches, notably the Orthodox.
"It may be difficult to fathom," the document says, "why the Orthodox became members of an organization governed by a Protestant 'nobility' whose understanding of church union and cooperation is dimetrically opposed to the Orthodox Church's own tradition and self understanding."
It suggests that Orthodoxy was led, or perhaps "misled," into membership by a small group of "professional theologians" who did not understand the guiding principles of the WCC or who wanted to engage in theological dialogue with non-Orthodox in the WCC in order to attract Protestantism to Orthodoxy or advance themselves in their professions.
The Greeks say they are displeased with refusals to record Orthodox minority or dissenting views on various issues in official WCC publications. They maintain that a WCC structure set up to meet Protestant needs is being "manipulated" in such a way that Protestants are "dictating what the Orthodox may and may not do."
Potter has acknowledged "difficulties with the Church of Greece" as far back as the early days of the WCC in the 1940s. He emphasized that problems with that body did not mean that Orthodox churches in general are disenchanted with the WCC.
He added that with the growth in WCC membership, the Greek church bishops "feel that . . . they have become unrepresented. What they have done with their representation is another matter." He said, for example, that "it is only since 1968 that bishops of the Church of Greece have allowed themselves to become members of the WCC Central Committee."
The WCC general secretary also alluded to tensions with the Greek church stemming from the period of military government in the country, from 1967 to 1974. Bishops identified with one faction or another were appointed and deposed in the wake of government changes.
The document of grievances reflects only the views of the Orthodox Church in Greece, and does not necessarily represent the views of other Orthodox bodies holding membership in the World Council of Churches, such as the Greek Orthodox Church in the Americas or the Orthodox Church in America.