Since the early 20th century, a remarkably consistent feature of the modern ecumenical movement has been the presence but also the unease of the Orthodox churches. At nearly every meeting of global significance up until the early 1990s, the Orthodox felt compelled to issue separate statements, indicating serious reservations, doctrinal and otherwise. For a variety of reasons, Orthodox dissatisfaction with aspects of the WCC, and intra-Orthodox tensions concerning membership in a global fellowship of churches, came to a crisis point in the late 1990s, just before the WCC's 8th Assembly in December 1998. The Special Commission, created at the Assembly, arose in direct response to that crisis. It sought not merely to assuage the concerns of the moment, but to address the long-standing issues in a more sustained and profound way.
After presenting its final report to the 2002 WCC Central Committee, the Commission established a Standing Committee on Orthodox Participation in the WCC, with a Steering Committee to fulfil this role until the next Assembly. Considering that the Special Commission process constituted a major WCC effort between Harare and Porto Alegre, it was decided to find ways to strengthen understanding and reception of the Special Commission report at the 9th Assembly.
Further information and links
Website of the Special Commission
Final report of the Special Commission (August-September 2002)