GEORGIAN PATRIARCH EXPLAINS WHY HE IS NOT PARTICIPATING IN PAN-ORTHODOX COUNCIL
by Megi Kikaleishvili
RIA Novosti, 12 June 2016
The Georgian Orthodox Church adopted the decision not to participate in the Pan-Orthodox Council for the reason that several questions are unacceptable to it, Georgian Patriarch Ilia II declared.
"We cannot accept, we will not participate, because of the fact that several issues are complex and unacceptable for us," the patriarch declared during Sunday's liturgy in the cathedral of the Holy Trinity.
Previously the Georgian Orthodox Church released the minutes of a session of the Holy Synod with 11 points explaining the reasons for which it will not participate in the council. The Georgian church thinks that "eucharistic communion between the churches of Antioch and Jerusalem has not been restored," and "recommendations of the Georgian church regarding the necessity of amendments in a number of documents, including the documents 'The Sacrament of Marriage and Hindrances Thereto' and 'The Mission of the Orthodox church in the modern world,' were not taken into account."
The Constantinople patriarchate is planning to conduct the Pan-Orthodox Council from 16 to 27 June. The Pan-Orthodox Council, which has been in preparation for more than 50 years, will be, as anticipated, the first meeting of primates and representatives of Orthodox churches in more than one thousand years. However, as Patriarch of Moscow and all-Rus Kirill said, the upcoming council will not be "ecumenical," since "it is not intended to resolve doctrinal issues or to introduce any innovations into the liturgical life of the church or into its canonical structure." (tr. by PDS, posted 12 June 2016)
PATRIARCH BARTHOLOMEW REPORTS COMPLETION OF PREPARATION FOR PAN-ORTHODOX COUNCIL
by Gennady Melnik
RIA Novosti, 12 June 2016
Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew declared that the preparation for the Pan-Orthodox Council on Crete has been completed and he expressed the hope for its successful occurrence, the website amen.gr reports.
"We rejoice that, after long and painstaking preparation, the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church is approaching. We are praying that the Advocate [Holy Spirit] will bring the council's work to a successful completion and to the love of God's people and the whole world. The ecumenical patriarchate has worked from the very beginning with responsibility and in conscience, not sparing time nor energy, for preparation and for culmination of this historic undertaking," Patriarch Bartholomew declared after a solemn worship service on Saturday.
The Constantinople Orthodox Church (COC) intends to conduct the Pan-Orthodox Council from 16 to 26 June on Crete, despite the statements of a number of Orthodox churches with demands that it be postponed.
Last week the synod of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church refused to participate in the council. The same decision was adopted by the Antioch church. The Serbian Orthodox Church issued on Thursday an appeal to the head of the COC in which it complained about the fact that "it is experiencing difficulties" regarding participation in the Pan-Orthodox Council, and it asked that it be postponed for some time and that in the scheduled period an inter-Orthodox conference by conducted. On Friday it was reported that the Georgian Orthodox Church will not participate in the Pan-Orthodox Council; that decision was made after a session of the synod.
On Friday it was reported that the head of the Department of External Church Relations of the Moscow patriarchate, Metropolitan of Volokolamsk Ilarion, did not travel to Crete for participation in the composition of the message of the Pan-Orthodox Council that was scheduled for Thursday; the RPTs considered such participation to be inappropriate since a number of local Orthodox churches of the world had already advocated that the conduct of the council be postponed.
On Monday, 13 June, an emergency session of the synod of the Russian Orthodox Church will be held for discussion of the situation in which a number of churches are refusing to participate in the Pan-Orthodox Council. (tr. by PDS, posted 12 June 2016)
SERBIAN PATRIARCH PROMISES TO MAKE CONTRIBUTION TO WORK OF PAN-ORTHODOX COUNCIL
by Gennady Melnik
RIA Novosti, 12 June 2016
Patriarch of Serbia Irenaeus sent a warm and cordial message to Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew on the occasion of his nameday and he assured him that the Serbian Orthodox Church will make a positive contribution to the work of the Pan-Orthodox Council on Crete. A FAX of the letter, written in Greek, was published on the amen.gr website, which mentions that just a day before this, the primate of the Serbian Orthodox Church left open the question of possible nonparticipation of the church in the council.
Earlier, in a letter to Patriarch Bartholomew, Irenaeus suggested that, because of controversial, unresolved issues, an inter-Orthodox conference be conducted on Crete instead of the Pan-Orthodox Council.
In a new letter of 11 June, sent on the nameday of the Constantinople patriarch, the Serbian patriarch expressed cordial and warmest wishes and he writes about a feeling of Patriarch Bartholomew's responsibility for the unity of the Orthodox church.
"This zeal was demonstrated in the calling of the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church, intended to give a message of hope to the Orthodox world and opening new horizons for pastoral work and the theology of the church. The Serbian church will make its contribution to the positive aspect of the work of the Holy and Great Council on Crete," the letter says.
The Pan-Orthodox Council, which is intended to be the first gathering of primates and representatives of local Orthodox churches of the world in more than one thousand years, was threatened with failure: a number of churches suggested postponing its conduct, scheduled for 16-26 June on Crete, because of disagreement with several drafts of documents and issues of the procedure of the council. However, the patriarchate of Constantinople, which is convening the council, insists on conducting it on schedule. (tr. by PDS, posted 12 June 2016)
MONDAY SYNOD OF RUSSIAN CHURCH WILL DECIDE ON QUESTION OF PAN-ORTHODOX COUNCIL
Interfax-Religiia, 12 June 2016
On Monday in Moscow an emergency session of the Holy Synod of the Russian church will be held, which will make a decision about its participation in the Pan-Orthodox Council.
"The session of the Holy Synod will be held for discussion of the extraordinary situation that has arisen after the refusal of a number of local Orthodox churches to take part in the work of the Pan-Orthodox Council, whose conduct was scheduled for Crete on 18-27 June 2016," Vladimir Legoida, the head of the synod's Department for Cooperation of Church and Society and News Media, explained.
Previously the Georgian, Serbian, Bulgarian, and Antiochian churches advocated that the conduct of the council by postponed. Thus this historic forum, as well as the way to resolve the crisis in the process of preparation, remained in doubt.
A few days ago the Moscow patriarchate suggested holding an emergency Pan-Orthodox Pre-Council conference no later than 10 June. It pointed to the fact that the nonparticipation in the council of even one of the local churches makes its conduct impossible, and it also declared that a number of churches and monasteries on Athos had proposed amendments to drafts of the council documents, which are consonant with suggestions of the Russian church and "require fundamental consideration in order to find a general Orthodox consensus."
However the Constantinople patriarchate, which is responsible for coordinating the preparations for the council, declined the suggestion to discuss problems that hindered the conduct of this event, and it declared that it will be held, despite the reluctance of some churches to participate in it.
According to the approved rules, the agenda of the council will not include disputed issues, and all drafts of documents which are proposed for adoption at this forum were published for information on the initiative of the Russian church.
Council participants were supposed to discuss six topics: relations of the Orthodox church with the rest of the Christian world, fasting, marriage, the church's mission in the modern world, pastoral care of Orthodox in the diaspora, and means for proclaiming the autonomy of Orthodox churches. It was planned to separately adopt the message of the council.
The future council will not have the status of ecumenical. In distinction from the ancient ecumenical councils, it is not intended to resolve issues of a doctrinal nature nor will it introduce innovations in canonical structure and liturgical life. (tr. by PDS, posted 12 June 2016)
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