As the Council date draws closer, expect to see even more commentaries on it by different groups. Beyond the obvious journalists and blogs there have been Churches making their positions clear as well (the EP, the Russian Church, ROCOR, et al.). Now the Bulgarians have given their two cents. One recent commentator stated that some Churches are "out of touch" because they exist in traditionally Orthodox countries and lack the urbanity to understand how to engage the non-Orthodox world. There may well be an established lexicon from the World Council of Churches or from the bilateral commissions that litter the globe, but to my mind the Truth of Orthodoxy is as successfully preached by a Bulgarian cleric as by a pastor from New York City.
(Pravoslavie.ru) - The Holy Synod of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church announced on Thursday April 21 policy positions stemming from its recent meeting and pertaining to the upcoming Pan-Orthodox Council to be held on Crete in June, reports The Sofia Globe.
In particular the Synod proclaimed, amending an earlier draft document, that besides the “Holy Orthodox Church there are no other churches, but only heresies and schisms, and to call these ‘churches’ is theologically, dogmatically and canonically completely wrong”. That some have been able to couch such truths in kinder words does not change their veracity. At the same time there has to be some path to the Church that brings people in little by little without rebuffing them for their imperfections. This is the challenge of today. Once we can fill our churches with the unchurched and the lost then I think we can engage in the accession of other ecclesial bodies into Orthodoxy.
On the matter of the Orthodox Church’s stance towards the wider Christian world, the Synod took into consideration a letter from Metropolitan Gavriil of Lovech and priests of his diocese, and a letter from Metropolitan Nikolai of Plovdiv that included a petition signed by 240 priests of his diocese
Concerning dialogues with other Christian confessions in a search for “unity” the Bulgarian Church proclaimed that the Orthodox Church understands itself to have never lost and incapable of losing its unity, as those following heresies and schisms simply fall away from the Church, and “through repentance, they may be received into the Church … The Holy Orthodox Church, which is the one and only, never lost unity in the faith and fellowship of the Holy Spirit among Christians and as it will last until the end of the world, the Lord has said that ‘the gates of hell will not prevail against it.’”
The document put forth by the Holy Synod also gave thanks to God that the Bulgarian Orthodox Church had withdrawn from the World Council of Churches, in which it took part from 1961 until 1998, under Soviet coercion. The pastors of the Church proclaimed that they could not take part in any organization that views Orthodoxy simply as “one of many or as a branch of the One church, which seeks a way and struggles for its restoration through this World Council of Churches”.
The Synod quoted the Creed, saying that there was one God and one Church.