Thursday, March 6, 2014

Address by EP Bartholomew to assembled Patriarchs

It is hard to express how comprehensive and important this address is. Questions people have been posing for decades are discussed here. You will also see two major points that will not be discussing in the upcoming council. It is well worth reading in its entirety.

(Ecumenical Patriarchate) - Your Beatitudes and most venerable Brothers in Christ, First-Hierarchs of the Most Holy Orthodox Churches, and honorable members of your entourages,

Welcome to the courtyard of our Church, the martyric and historical Ecumenical Patriarchate, this humble servant of unity in Christ for us all. From the depths of our heart, we thank you for the labor of love, which has brought you here in eager response to our invitation.

We offer glory and praise to our God who is worshipped in the Trinity for rendering us worthy to convene once again in the same place for another Synaxis, as those entrusted by His grace and mercy with the responsibility of leadership for the local autocephalous Orthodox Churches. This is the sixth such consecutive Synaxis since this blessed custom commenced in 1992, shortly after our elevation to the Throne of Constantinople. Like the Psalmist, we too proclaim: “Behold what a good and wonderful thing it is for brothers to dwell in the same place.” Our heart is filled with joy and delight in receiving you and embracing each one of you with sincere love, profound honor and favorable anticipation of our encounter.

Indeed, we could say that our encounter is a great event, both blessed and historical. The breath of the Paraclete has gathered us, and the eyes of those both inside and outside of our Church are anxiously focused on this Synaxis, in anticipation of an edifying and comforting word, which our world so needs today.

This increases and intensifies our responsibility, rendering our obligation more serious, so that through fervent prayer we might seek assistance from above in the work that lies before us; for without this divine support we can do nothing. (Cf. John 15.5) This is why we humbly beseech the Lord, as the Founder of the Church, to bless our work abundantly and through the Paraclete to direct our hearts, minds and decisions for the fulfillment of His holy will, the strengthening and sealing of our unity, as well as the glory of the Holy and Triune God.

As we recall the previous Synaxis meetings of the First-Hierarchs of the Orthodox Churches, all of which with the grace of God were crowned with complete success, we bring to mind in gratitude those who participated in these assemblies, having already departed and being of blessed memory, the late Patriarchs Parthenios and Petros of Alexandria, Ignatius of Antioch, Diodoros of Jerusalem, Alexy of Moscow, Pavel of Serbia, Teoktist of Romania, Maxim of Bulgaria, as well as Archbishops Chrysostomos of Cyprus, Seraphim and Christodoulos of Athens, Vasili of Poland, and Dorotheos of the Czech Lands and Slovakia, whose contribution to the success of these meetings was exceptionally edifying, also bequeathing to us as their successors an example to imitate and a legacy to preserve. May their memory be eternal!

The reasons that led us to assume the initiative for convening this Synaxis are already well known to you from the Letter of invitation, which we addressed to you. Echoing the words of the Apostle, we wrote to you: “There is fighting without and fear within.” (2 Cor. 7.6) Inasmuch as it exists in the world, our Holy Church always endures the turmoil of historical upheaval, which is sometimes very fierce. In the critical times that we are undergoing, this upheaval is especially palpable in the geographical regions, where the Christian Church emerged, matured and flourished, namely in the ancient senior Patriarchates of the Most Holy Orthodox Church. There, frequently in the name of religion, violence dominates and threatens all believers in Christ irrespective of confessional identity. We follow with great sorrow and concern the persecutions of Christians, the destruction and sacrilege of sacred churches, the abduction and assassination of clergy and monastics, even of hierarchs, such as the long kidnapped Metropolitans of Aleppo, Paul of the ancient Patriarchate of Antioch and Yuhanna Ibrahim of the Syrian Jacobite Church, whose whereabouts have since been unknown.

Before this phenomenon, which threatens the very existence of the Orthodox Churches, we are called to raise a voice of protest, not as isolated individuals or Churches, but as the one, united Orthodox Church throughout the world.
Nevertheless, the persecution against the Christian faith in our time is not restricted to the above forms of provocative oppression. Equally great is the danger, which arises from the rapid secularization of formerly Christian societies, where the Church of Christ is marginalized from public life, while fundamental spiritual and moral principles of the Gospel are expelled from people’s lives. Of course, the Orthodox Church has never favored the forceful imposition of evangelical principles on people, placing freedom of the human person above objective rules and values. Coercion of any kind does not belong to the nature and ethos of Orthodoxy. Matters pertaining to people’s moral life are treated by the Orthodox Church as being personal, managed by each individual in his or her personal relationship in freedom with their spiritual father and not by the sword of the law. However, this in no way eliminates from the Church its obligation to promote the Gospel principles in the contemporary world, even if these sometimes come into conflict with prevailing ideas.

Our Holy Orthodox Church is characterized by its attention to the traditions of the past, and it is obligated to do this at all times, for “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and to the ages.” (Heb. 13.8) Nonetheless, history advances, and the Church is also required to be attentive to the problems facing people in every age. A traditional Church does not mean a fossilized Church, one that is indifferent to the ongoing challenges of history. Such challenges are particularly acute in our times, and we are compelled to heed them.

One of these derives from the rapid development of technology and the globalization that it sustains. The Orthodox Church has always been ecumenical in its orientation and structure. Its mission has always been to approach and embrace “all nations,” irrespective of race, color, or other physical features, within the body of Christ. Yet this ecumenical approach has always manifested itself within the Orthodox Church with a sense of respect for the particularity of each people, of its mentality and tradition. Today, technology unites all people, and this undoubtedly has positive consequences for the dissemination of knowledge and information. Notwithstanding, it constitutes a channel for the transmission and, indirectly, the imposition of specific cultural models, which are not always compatible with the particular traditions of the same people. The use of technology should not occur indiscriminately or without an awareness of the accompanying risks. The Church must be vigilant on this matter.

Related to this is also the issue – in many ways supported by technology – of the rapid emergence of scientific achievements, especially in the field of biotechnology. The potential of contemporary science extends as far as intervention into the innermost aspects of nature and genetic modifications capable of healing illnesses; however, at the same time, it creates serious ethical problems, on which the Church can and must voice its opinion. We should confess that the Orthodox Church has not demonstrated due sensitivity with regard to this issue. At our previous Synaxis in 2008, we decided to establish an Inter-Orthodox Committee for Bioethics, which, with the initiative of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, convened its first meeting in Crete; unfortunately, the response of our sister Churches was not adequate in order to permit the continuation of this effort. We hope that this will happen in the immediate future so that the voice of Orthodoxy may be heard on such an important subject.

Heeding the present-day existential problems of humanity, Orthodoxy too must continue its efforts for the protection of the natural environment. When the Ecumenical Patriarchate – first among all in the Christian world – highlighted the urgency of this issue, already during the tenure of our venerable predecessor Patriarch Demetrios in 1989, maintaining this effort with a series of international scientific symposia under our auspices, the Orthodox Church for a long time remained the sole Christian voice on this serious matter. Today, other Christian churches and confessions also attribute the necessary importance to this crucial problem, but Orthodoxy still provides par excellence the appropriate response through its liturgical and ascetic tradition, capable of contributing to a resolution for this crisis, which as a result of human greed and indulgence today jeopardizes the very survival of God’s creation.

Finally, our most Holy Church is obligated to pay careful and compassionate attention to the problems created by the economic framework of the modern world. All of us are witnesses to the negative consequences of the financial crisis for the dignity and survival of human personhood, an oppressive crisis for human beings in many regions of the planet, and particularly in countries regarded as being financially “developed.” Unemployment of youth, increase of poverty, uncertainty for the future – all these bear testimony to how contemporary humanity is greatly estranged from the application of the Gospel principles, something for which we too are all responsible inasmuch as we often exhaust our pastoral care on “spiritual” matters and neglect the fact that humankind requires food and basic material resources in order to live in a dignified manner as human persons created in the image of God. It is vital that the voice of Orthodoxy is heard on these matters as well in order to prove that it genuinely possesses the truth and remains faithful to the principles of the Gospel.

However, in order to achieve all this, beloved Brothers in the Lord, there is one necessary condition, namely the unity of our Church and the prospect of addressing the contemporary world with a unified voice. This must also concern our present Synaxis inasmuch as we are entrusted with responsibility for the unity of our most Holy Church.

As we know, the Orthodox Church comprises a number of autocephalous regional Churches, which move within certain boundaries defined by the Sacred Canons and the Tomes conferring their autocephaly while at the same time being entitled to full self-administration without any external interference whatsoever. This system, which was bequeathed to us by our Fathers, constitutes a blessing that we must preserve like the apple of our eyes. For it is by means of this system that we may avoid any deviation toward conceptions foreign to Orthodox ecclesiology concerning the exercise of universal authority by any local Church or its First-Hierarch. The Orthodox Church comprises a communion of autocephalous and self-administered Orthodox Churches.

Nevertheless, it is precisely on this point that a serious question arises. How and in what way is the communion of the Orthodox Churches expressed? Historical experience has demonstrated that very often the autocephalous Orthodox Churches act as if they were self-sufficient Churches, as if they say to the other Churches: “I have no need of you.” (1 Cor. 12.21) Instead of seeking the cooperation of other Orthodox Churches on matters pertaining to Orthodoxy in its entirety, they act on their own and initiate bilateral relations with those outside of Orthodoxy, sometimes even in a spirit of competition. Other autocephalous Churches differentiate their position before non-Orthodox and do not actively participate in activities agreed upon at a Pan-Orthodox level. Indeed, more recently, there are some Pan-Orthodox Preconciliar decisions, which are not adhered to by some Churches despite the fact that they cosigned these agreements. Or what can we say of cases where sister Churches of their own accord dispute canonical boundaries of other sister Churches, provoking bitterness and at times turmoil within this communion? All these things render apparent the need for an instrument, whether institutionally endorsed or not, which is able to resolve differences that arise and problems that are created from time to time, in order that we may not be led to division and conflict.

Thus we can clearly see the paramount importance of synodality in the Church. The synodal system has from the outset constituted a foundational aspect of Church life. Every difference or disagreement in matters of either faith or canonical order was set before the judgment of the Synod. A characteristic example of this is St. Basil’s stance on the matter of rebaptism of heretics and schismatics, concerning which he had inherited the austere tradition of his predecessors in Cappadocia: the matter should be judged by a synod of bishops, who are also able to modify the earlier tradition. (Canons 1 and 47) All differences between Churches or outside them were definitively judged by Synods, whose decisions were ultimately adhered to even by those in disagreement. (“Let the vote of the majority prevail.” Canon 6 of the 1st Ecumenical Council.)

This synodal system was and is upheld more or less faithfully, within the autocephalous Orthodox Churches, but it is entirely absent in relations among them. This accounts for a source of major problems. It creates an image of Orthodoxy as being many Churches but not one Church, which by no means concur with Orthodox ecclesiology; instead it comprises an aberration from this ecclesiology and becomes the root of trouble. We are obligated to support the synodal system even beyond the boundaries of our individual Churches. We are required to develop a conscience of one Orthodox Church, and the concept of synodality alone can achieve this goal.

Over fifty years ago, when the late visionary Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras initiated the preliminary steps for the unity of Orthodoxy, the institution of Pan-Orthodox Consultations was established and determined common decisions for the Orthodox on matters pertaining to relations with non-Orthodox. These decisions were considered as binding for all the Orthodox Churches, as if they were incorporated into the “internal regulations” of each of these Churches. Today these same decisions are questioned and even challenged quite arbitrarily and uncanonically by segments within the Orthodox Churches, which purportedly act like ecumenical councils and dispute them, thereby creating confusion among their faithful flock. Unfortunately, this phenomenon is even tolerated by the hierarchal leadership of some Churches, with unforeseen consequences for the unity of their flock. However, synodal decisions must be respected by all, for this is the only way that we can preserve the unity of the Church.

Nonetheless, these Pan-Orthodox Consultations have not themselves exhausted the effort for the unity of Orthodoxy. The Churches decided from very early on that the convocation of a Holy and Great Council was absolutely necessary for the Orthodox Church, formally announcing this to the entire Christian world and commencing preparations for this extraordinary and historical event. The agenda for this Synod was finally restricted to ten topics, of which eight have already run the course of their preparatory stage and been placed before us for determination by the Holy and Great Council. The remaining two topics, namely the manner of declaring a Church as autocephalous and the order of Churches’ commemoration in the sacred Diptychs, have encountered serious difficulties in their preparatory stage, and so the majority of the sister Orthodox Churches decided that they should not present an obstacle for the convening of the Holy and Great Council, which should be confined to the already prepared topics (one of which, namely regarding the declaration of a Church as autonomous, still requires approval by a Pan-Orthodox Preconciliar Consultation).

Of course, even among the topics prepared on a Pan-Orthodox level, there are still some details that need certain revisions and updating inasmuch as they were formulated and agreed upon a long time ago, when different circumstances and presuppositions prevailed. These include, for instance, matters related to the social conditions of the world, such as the relationship of the Orthodox Church with non-Orthodox Christians, the Ecumenical Movement, and so forth. These documents must be revised by an Inter-Orthodox Committee created for this purpose in order that they might be presented to the Holy and Great Council in a manner adapted to today’s reality.

This is what we have to say about the agenda of the Synod. Nonetheless, it is evident that all the anticipated topics of the Synod pertain to matters of internal nature and organization for our Church. Our predecessors, who determined the agenda of the Synod, rightly decided that, unless the Orthodox Church places its own house in order, it would be unable to address the world with authority and validity. However, the world’s expectations of this Holy and Great Council will surely also include a reference to matters preoccupying people of our time in their daily life, which is why it is mandatory for this Council to extend a Message of existential importance for people in our age. Such a Message – once again well prepared by a special Inter-Orthodox Committee, formulated and approved by the Fathers of the Council – will constitute the voice of the Orthodox Church to the contemporary world: a word of consolation, comfort, and life, which contemporary humanity awaits from the Orthodox Church.

Of course, the convocation of the Holy and Great Council will also demand certain provisions of administrative nature, on which we are called to reflect and resolve during our present Synaxis, as the most appropriate and responsible for this task. Thus, we must deliberate and decide about the way in which the Holy and Great Council will convene, that is to say about how the Most Holy autocephalous Orthodox Churches will be represented there in a manner that is fair and consistent with the principles of our ecclesiological tradition. In the first millennium of our Church’s history, when the institution of the Pentarchy of the ancient Patriarchates prevailed, it was considered absolutely necessary for all the ancient Patriarchates to be represented, even if by a small number of delegates. The emphasis was placed not on the number of those in attendance, but on the assurance of representation by all of the Apostolic Thrones. Over the second millennium after Christ, other Patriarchates and autocephalous Churches were also added, with reference to validation of their status by a future Ecumenical Council (for those not receiving status approval in the past). By analogy, then, and in accordance with the ancient tradition, it would also be desirable in the case of the proposed Holy and Great Council that all Orthodox Churches recognized as autocephalous today should be represented therein by a number of delegates designated by us, if possible at this Synaxis.

Another topic of administrative nature requiring our resolution is that which pertains to the method of pronouncing decisions by the Holy and Great Council. For reasons of fairness to every autocephalous Church, irrespective of the number of its delegates, it is imperative that each autocephalous Church retains the right of a single vote in the final process of decision-making, which will be exercised by its First-Hierarch during the voting process. What remains crucial is the question about whether the final decisions of the Synod will be determined by unanimity or majority among the Churches in attendance at the Synod. If the criterion of our choice is the ancient canonical tradition of the Church, the canonical order compels that the “majority vote” ultimately prevails in the Synod’s decisions. (See Canon 6 of the 1st Ecumenical Council) This probably held true in the ancient Church even with regard to matters of faith, given that in many of the larger Synods, such as the 3rd Ecumenical Council and others, even those ultimately declared as heretics by the Synod and repudiated by the Church, namely those comprising the minority, would also have been in attendance. Nonetheless, with regard to matters of canonical nature, the order recommended by tradition undoubtedly leads to final decision-making by majority vote, without this of course ruling out the possibility of an always desirable unanimity. It is up to us to decide about this matter as well.

Beloved Brothers in Christ,

Our Synaxis here is of vital importance. It comes at an historical and providential time, when the Church is suffering formidable upheaval and its ability to exercise its salvific mission is being assessed. Nothing any longer can be taken for granted, as it might be in other ages; everything can change from one moment to another. Complacency is the cause of destruction. Even state authorities cannot provide a guarantee for the Church; neither can affluence or secular influence; nor again do societies welcome the Gospel teaching without debate and dispute. Today we must convince people that we have the word of life, the message of hope and the experience of love. And in order to achieve this, we must have validity and credibility.

A fundamental presupposition for us to convince the world is first of all our own internal unity. It is regrettable and perilous for the validity of the Orthodox Church that to outsiders we often appear divided and dissenting. We hold and proclaim the most perfect ecclesiology; yet we sometimes refuse to apply it. We have a precise order in the Church, defined by the Sacred Canons of the Holy Ecumenical Councils; yet we sometimes give the impression to outsiders that we disagree even about who is “first” among us. We possess the synodal institution as an authority, to which everyone is supposed to conform; yet we allow – whether through carelessness or misdirected ambition, which frequently conceals individual self-defense – the synodal decisions to be trampled by segments of our flock that lay a claim to the infallibility of faith. Generally speaking, we manifest signs of dissolution. It is time for us to give priority to unity – both outside of our Churches as well as among them.

The Orthodox Church, to which we belong by the grace of God, does not have at its disposal any other instrument of preserving its unity except synodality. It is for this reason that any further delay in convening the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church severely harms its unity. Our responsibility in this regard is immense. The Church of Constantinople, which for a thousand years after the great Schism with Rome has served the unity of Orthodoxy by repeatedly convening Pan-Orthodox Synods, is today equally conscious of its onerous obligation with regard to Pan-Orthodox unity. Thankfully, however, it is not alone in this. The other autocephalous Orthodox Churches, too, proved over fifty years ago that they yearn for the convocation of the Holy and Great Council of our Church. Behold, the time has come; indeed, “times are impatient.” Preparations can never be perfect. Let us be satisfied with what we have agreed thus far. Let us resolve without delay – with love and in accordance with the Sacred Canons – any difference we may still have in our relationships to one another. “Let us love one another, so that with one mind we may confess” the one Triune God and the Lord, who suffered and was risen for all people without exception, to a world that is in such dire need of the message of God’s love. Let us proceed to the convocation of the Holy and Great Council as soon as possible, and let us permit the Paraclete to speak, surrendering to His breath.

This is what we have in fraternal love to express to you, dearest Brothers in the Lord, at the commencement of the proceedings of our Synaxis.

“Now to Him who by the power at work within us is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, to Him be glory in the Church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, for ever and ever. Amen.” (Eph. 3.20-21)


  1. I'm not quite able to do the math on this. But if I'm reading this right, the biggest thing in his address is the one autocephalous Church equals "one vote." If for example then, Constantinople, Jerusalem, Cyprus, Crete, Greece, Alexandria all get one vote, then that's 6 for Constantinople and one for Moscow. Kinda problematic. And it's "majority rules" not "unanimity." This is a big power move. We could be border on an ecclesiology schism, because I don't see any way that Moscow is going to submit to a process in which a handful of islands in the Mediterranean governs the rest of the Orthodox Church. As such, it seems like a non-starter. Let's see what happens. Putin may have to occupy Turkey.

    1. We need a center of gravity in the Church. Not a papacy. The canons call for one. It is the Ecumenical Patriarchate. Frankly I have more confidence in the "objectivity" of the E.P.than I do in the "symphonia" of the MP and the Russian state.

    2. This is certainly something Met. Hilarion (of the Russian Church) has spoken on in the past with a consistent opinion.

      He said:

      "At present, the only method of decision-making in the inter-Orthodox cooperation is consensus. It is on consensus that a possibility of cooperation among the Local Orthodox Churches is based. It is this method that helps resolve emerging issues in the spirit of brotherly love and reach agreement on the matters that raise controversy.

      Certain voices have been raised recently for giving up this method and replacing it with decision-making by simple majority. However, this drastic change in the work of inter-Orthodox bodies could entail grave consequences: if even one Church opposes a decision and her opinion is disregarded at voting, this would inevitably cause division in the family of Orthodox Churches. If this division is not overcome at the preparatory stage, it will surface at the Pan-Orthodox Council. Therefore, it is impossible to offer any other method today except consensus."

      And interestingly he also spoke to the issue of the OCA directly:

      "Nevertheless, regardless of recognition or non-recognition of the autocephaly of the Orthodox Church in America, nobody challenges the canonicity of her archpastors and clergy. It enables her to be a full-fledged participant in the common life of the Church by sending her representatives to numerous inter-Orthodox meetings. The more bishops and priests of this Church participate in common church events, the sooner, I believe, this matter of the pan-Orthodox recognition of her status will be settled.

      And it is very important that the Primate of this Church, equally with Primates of other Local Orthodox Churches, should participate in inter-Orthodox events every time when invited. Indeed, the presence of the Primate of the American Church in inter-Orthodox events will be the most eloquent testimony that this Church is serious about her autocephaly and makes efforts to have this autocephaly recognized by other Local Orthodox Churches as well."

  2. Anyone know the 8 topics which would then remain for discussion at the Great Council?


  3. "Frankly I have more confidence in the "objectivity" of the E.P.than I do in the "symphonia" of the MP and the Russian state."
    Those of us who lived (or rather languished) under the "objectivity" of the Phanar know better.
    The Phanar is counting on 6 votes for Omogeneia. Count us out.

  4. This address is disturbing on a few levels. We need to pray earnestly now more than ever for our heirarchs as this troubling and very difficult time approaches. Maybe the Patriarch of Georgia was right when he said convening another ecumenical council isn't such a good idea. One vote per autocephalous church? This can be interpreted a power grab from the EP. Pray that it isn't and the he has godly intentions. Thankfully, His All-Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew's words are not binding and he has no ex-cathedra power. If it's going to be one vote per one autocephalous church, I think we'd all be much more comfortable with needing unanimous votes to pass something.

    The math is:

    Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople
    Patriarchate of Alexandria
    Patriarchate of Antioch
    Patriarchate of Jerusalem
    Patriarchate of Moscow
    Patriarchate of Serbia
    Patriarchate of Romania
    Patriarchate of Bulgaria
    Patriarchate of Georgia
    Church of Cyprus
    Church of Greece
    Church of Poland
    Church of Albania
    Church of the Czech Lands and Slovakia

    If the EP thinks that Greek churches will stick together, that may not be the case. The Russian and Antiochian patriarchs have worked closely, and Jerusalem is by no means lacky of Phanar. Forgive my ignorance on history but I can't recall a previous ecumenical council where one church only had one vote. The votes have always been among the hundreds of bishops present. Aren't all bishops still TECHNICALLY equal?

  5. Who is at this meeting? Did Antioch even send a single priest? If not I doubt they'll be there in 2015 unless somebody's making a lot of phone calls.

    Apparently +Kyrill wants to have his say early and often about autocephaly, which he's already suggested they may have flubbed with the OCA. By the way, is OCA there?

    The only issue up for doctrinal debate is the status of the diaspora Churches, and that is not close to being resolved. So what's left--a perfectly laudatory but redundant statement on abortion, environmentalism and poverty? Something else is going on.

    1. "Apparently +Kyrill wants to have his say early and often about autocephaly, which he's already suggested they may have flubbed with the OCA."
      Where in the world did you get that idea? Pat. Kyrill and Met. Hilarion have been nothing but forceful supporters of the OCA autocephaly.

    2. Then +Kyrill needs to tell ROCOR to fold its tent right now, but I don't see them going anywhere. And, sadly, OCA is nowhere to be seen at this Synaxis.

      Here's what +Hilarion has said: "Hilarion: In the Russian Orthodox Church we believe that in the Diaspora it is possible to establish Canonical Orthodox Churches if there is agreement in the Orthodox populations of the particular countries. On this basis we granted autocephaly to the Orthodox Church in America in 1970. But now the Orthodox churches are coming closer together and we are commonly decided that the granting of autocephaly should be a matter of Panorthodox concern and that Tomes of Autocephaly should be signed by all the Primates of All the Orthodox Churches. In fact we agreed on a different model from that which existed before. We also agreed to establish Episcopal Assemblies in the Diaspora to facilitate cooperation among the different jurisdictions.

      TNH: With this new decision are you saying that the Ecumenical Patriarchate no longer has the historical and canonical privilege of being the only one to grant Autocephaly?

      Hilarion: This seems to be the consensus of all the representatives of all the Orthodox churches, that autocephaly should be granted with the agreement of all the Orthodox Churches. It can be proclaimed by the Ecumenical Patriarch, but the Tome will be signed by all the Primates."

      I think if Moscow can come up with a way to un-ring that bell, they will.

      Autocephaly is more the ex post facto recognition of a spiritual reality. Like when Moscow herself, after centuries of her flock baptized, married and buried in the Faith and her own worship forms, suddenly finds nobody around to appoint their spiritual Father, so they just start doing it themselves.

      This will probably make a lot of people angry, and my Antiochian archdiocese has chafed at this sort of thing as well, but the Church in America is nowhere near the level of maturity to be recognized as autocephalous.

    3. "the Church in America is nowhere near the level of maturity to be recognized as autocephalous."
      LOL. Then you don't know the antics that go on in the "Mother Churches."

      Which +Hilarion is speaking, and do you have a link?

      "With this new decision are you saying that the Ecumenical Patriarchate no longer has the historical and canonical privilege of being the only one to grant Autocephaly?"
      Dumb question, as the Russian Church obvious has said-CORRECTLY-that the Phanar never had any historical and canonical privilege to be the only one to grant autocephaly, as Russia granted it to three-and to another it should never have taken (Georgia), making four. It refused to recognize the autocephaly the Phanar claimed to give Poland, ignored the anathema the Phanar imposed on Bulgaria's autocephaly, and forced the Phanar to recognize Greece's self proclaimed autocephaly.

      "I think if Moscow can come up with a way to un-ring that bell, they will."
      There are many who desire that, but the Moscow's central authority has gone out of its way to reaffirm it, and the time to lodge an objection is ticking away-by any stretch of the imagination, those who want to do away with it-basically hard core ROCOR types-have less than 7 years to find a way to unring it, and convince the Patriarch of Moscow and his Holy Synod to do so.

      "Then +Kyrill needs to tell ROCOR to fold its tent right now"
      Why would HH do that, given that they now serve a very useful purpose (the statement issued by ROCOR both shot across the prow of the Phanar but left the PoM plausible deniability), and the OCA isn't clamoring for it?

      "sadly, OCA is nowhere to be seen at this Synaxis"
      Neither is the Czech Lands and Slovakia, whom all autocephalous primates commemorate in their diptychs.

  6. Is Antioch there? Does anyone know? I have looked through all the photos and I cannot see Pat John!? If he is not, it looks like the situation in Qatar has become the defining issue for Antioch.

    Isa - by "objectivity" I meant the fact the Phanar is not attached at the hip to an aggressive, empire-building state. I have more confidence in the E.P.'s "ecumenicity" than I have of MP's, which is inter-connected with Putin and his vision for an imperial Russia.

    1. Dear Kevin, the recent pronouncement of the E.P. with regard to "foreign" monks on Mt. Athos makes it clear that you are mistaken about him. Pat. Kyrill's "aggressive, empire-building state" would make room for you and yours (after all, that's what the OCA was intended to do), but the E.P. simply does not want you and your ilk. Years ago Met. Anthony of S.F. and of blessed memory told me in front of other clergy and laity, "the GOA does not want converts!" (in the context of stating that he was the exception to the rule). The E.P.'s "ecumenicity" extends no further than its own ethnicity. It's not that he wants you at the back of the bus. He doesn't want you on the bus at all.

    2. "Isa - by "objectivity" I meant the fact the Phanar is not attached at the hip to an aggressive, empire-building state."
      no, its under the heel of one not its own. To try to wiggle out from under that, it engages in its own aggressive, empire-building ecclesiology.

  7. Dear Kevin

    Antioch represented by "Patriarchate of Antioch: Accra Metropolitan Sawa, Metropolitan Buenos Aires Silvanus, Fr Georgi Porphyry;"

    I posted the whole list on this thread:

  8. I don't see anyone listed as being present from the Church of the Czech Lands & Slovakia.

    Did I miss it, or was it accidentally left off the list?

    If they weren't there then this would, in part, explain Patriarch Kirill's reference about all the autocephalous Churches not being invited/present:
    “We should seek to ensure that all the Local Churches should take part in the preparation of a Pan-Orthodox Churches, and then our Council will become an expression of the prophetic voice of the Church addressed to both our own ones and external ones. Our own ones should feel the unity of the Church."

    At before I saw that Czech Lands & Slovakia were not represented I thought this comment was in reference to the OCA, but now it seems like it may be evidence that Constantinople really does not recognize +Rastislav of Presov as the legitimate primate of the Church of the Czech Lands & Slovakia.

    Does anyone know more about this?