Moscow patriarchate will not participate in Crete meeting


RIA Novosti, 13 June 2016


The Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church suggested postponing the Pan-Orthodox Council, which was scheduled for 16-26 on Crete, to another time due to the refusal of a number of churches to participate in the upcoming meeting because of shortcomings of some of the documents and the procedure of the council, Metropolitan of Volokolamsk Ilarion, the head of the Department of External Church Relations, told journalists regarding the results of the emergency session of the synod on Monday on Moscow.


"We cannot participate in the Pan-Orthodox Council. . . and we will request postponing its conduct," Metropolitan Ilarion said.


He said that previously the Bulgarian, Antioch, and Georgian churches refused to participate in the council, and the Serbian church also suggested postponing the council, while conducting on Crete at the already scheduled period an inter-Orthodox conference.


"All churches should participate in a Pan-Orthodox Council," Metropolitan Ilarion emphasized. Only it that case, he added, will the decisions of the council be legitimate for the whole Orthodox world.


The Russian church does not consider the current situation to be catastrophic. "We should draw lessons from the situation," Metropolitan Ilarion noted. He explained that critical comments were voiced long before the escalation of the situation around the council and that the voices of the churches should not be ignored and that it is necessary to treat more attentively the suggestions of particular churches to discuss certain problems before the council or during it (in particular, the Antioch church insisted on resolving the situation regarding Qatar before the council), and also to treat more attentively amendments of the council's documents that churches have proposed. . . . (tr. by PDS, posted 13 June 2016)




RIA Novosti, 13 June 2016


The decision of the Russian Orthodox Church about its nonparticipation in the Pan-Orthodox Council at the scheduled time is now being sent to the heads of the local churches, and the RPTs is awaiting the response of Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew, Vladimir Legoida, the chairman of the synod's Department for Relations of Church with Society and News Media, declared Monday live on television channel Rossiia 24.


"Our suggestion (to postpone the Pan-Orthodox Council—ed) has now been sent to the heads of the churches, and we will await the response of the patriarch of Constantinople," Legoids said live on the television channel.


He noted that the Russian church suggested postponing the council even earlier, but a direct answer was not received. "The Constantinople patriarchate did suggest that there is no possibility now to change anything and it is necessary to conduct everything as planned," the representative of the RPTs explained.


He also said that it is obvious that now there is no agreement within the Orthodox world to conduct a council at the scheduled time, but this does not mean that local churches advocate its change.


"We advocate convening the council in accordance with the rules that were agreed upon and we do not consider the situation to be so dramatic. These are not trifles here, but all issues that have arisen should be discussed and the various opinions of different churches should be harmonized," Legoida concluded. (tr. by PDS, posted 13 June 2016)



RIA Novosti, 14 June 2016


The Pan-Orthodox Council can be held only if the Constantinople patriarchate responds to the suggestions of a number of churches, including the largest of them, the Russian church, and moves its conduct from the officially scheduled date on 18-27 June to a later time, so that there would be time to fix the accumulated disagreements regarding its preparation, a source in the Russian Orthodox Church told RIA Novosti.


"The Pan-Orthodox Council can be held only if the Constantinople patriarchate postpones and moves its conduct to a later time, as five local Orthodox churches have already suggested doing," the source said, explaining the results of the emergency session of the RPTs synod that occurred on Monday in Moscow.


As regards the trip of the delegation of the Russian church in June to Crete, according to the source it theoretically may occur, but only if the Pan-Orthodox Council, that is scheduled for 18-27 June but is inadequately prepared, in the opinion of a number of churches, will be postponed and it is decided to conduct on Crete an inter-Orthodox conference for fixing the accumulated disagreements, although "such a development of affairs seems to be extremely unlikely."


The RPTs synod on 13 June resolved "to support the suggestions of the Antioch, Georgian, Serbian, and Bulgarian Orthodox churches about the postponement of conducting the Pan-Orthodox Council to a time in the future that allows the establishment of the necessary agreement of the primates of all commonly recognized local autocephalous Orthodox churches on the basis of the results of general Orthodox discussion." This suggestion was sent to Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew and all other Orthodox primates.


As stated in the synod's statement made on Monday, "if this suggestion is not adopted by the holy church of Constantinople, and the council on Crete is still convened, despite the absence of the consent of a number of local Orthodox churches, then with profound regret it is impossible for the delegation of the Russian Orthodox Church to participate in it."


The synod emphasized that now the necessary basis for convening the Pan-Orthodox Council does not exist, which includes the existence of "agreement of their Beatitudes the primates of all generally recognized local autocephalous Orthodox churches" (in accordance with the rules for the organization and work of the council adopted by all churches). Therefore "the only possible decision in this situation is the continuation of the preparation of the Holy and Great Council and the subsequent achievement of general Orthodox agreement regarding its conduct at another time," the document says. (tr. by PDS, posted 13 June 2016)

English translation of statement by Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church of the Moscow patriarchate is accessible at: 
On the situation caused by the refusal of several Local Orthodox Churches to participate in the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church

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