Monday, June 27, 2016

Moscow not a fan of Met. Job of Telmessos voting analogy

Moscow, June 27 (Interfax) - The Russian Orthodox Church reminds the Constantinople Patriarchate about incomparability of democracy traditions with taking decisions at the Council.

The discussion started with the words of the Constantinople archbishop who made it clear that all decisions taken by the inter-Orthodox Council on Crete would be compulsory for all Orthodox Churches, including those who did not participate in it.

"You come from a democracy. Everyone can vote. Now some people choose not to vote. Does that mean you don't live in a democracy?" Archbishop Job of Telmessos said resuming the results of the session on Friday answering the question of a Russian journalist. It should be noted that this was the most heated exchange between the media and the conciliar representatives by far.

"I understand that atmosphere on Crete is tense and it is tiresome to talk to journalists. But I believe comparing a Church Council to the democratic procedure is not successful and hardly relevant when voiced by the Council speaker," deputy head of the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate Archpriest Nikolay Balashov told Interfax-Religion.

"There has not been democracy in the Church from the first centuries, and there won't be," he said, explaining that democracy is the rule of people, and power in the Church "belongs to God."

The priest says that "if church rules are examined for their correspondence to democratic norms, there will be great embarrassment."

"Any respected democrat will ask Archbishop Job for what term he is elected and when his term expires. From democratic point of view any unchangeable power is bad. And we do not employ women as bishop, it is not democratic at all," the Russian church official said. Though I would be remiss if I don't note that Met. Job was removed from his episcopate after his pastoral "style" was found to be quite unpopular. So, while the Church isn't a democracy, the voice of the people is still heard.

He reminds Constantinople opponents that several percents of advantage is a convincing victory in democratic election, the way it was with Brexit also discussed at the Crete press conference.

"Church has quite different mechanisms of decision-making," the priest stressed reminding the words of the first Apostolic Council "It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us..."

"In order bishops can put it this way, unanimity, common accord is needed," the interviewee of the agency said.

The heads of ten of 14 Orthodox Churches took part in the assembly, which should have become the Pan-Orthodox Council and was held on Crete on June 20-25.

Bulgarian, Antiochian, Georgian, Serbian and Russian Churches called for postponing the Council in order to settle the disagreements and finalize its draft documents. However, the Constantinople Patriarchate has rejected the initiative and insisted on it be held within the set timeframe. As a result, the Churches, who represent the minority of the episcopate, clergy and believers of the Orthodox world, participated in the forum.


  1. I think it would have been wiser for him to say "if you are a player on a soccer team, and you decide not to play on the day of the game, does it mean there is no soccer game"?

    But of course, then he would have been criticized for comparing the synodical process to a soccer game!

    What would be more important, I think, is to discuss the official documents and talk to one another and plan the road ahead towards the next meeting when all, God willing, will be together around the Holy Eucharist.

    1. Actually Tony, if several members of the team don't show up there won't be a game.
      They planned ahead for this one--way ahead--and look how it turned out.

  2. Yes. If enough players don't show up, the game can be forfeited. Sometimes it also rains on game day.

    My opinion if one of many, so I don't expect automatic agreement. My opinion is that this isn't a Pan Orthodox Council IMO until all the Orthodox Patriarchs are there. But I am very optomistic with the official documents. Also, I look forward to the next time when, God-willing, all of the heirarchs will be there. I think the next one will bring forward even more fruit. That should be the prayers of all members of the Church.

  3. Archpriest Nikolay Balashov needs to remember, as he will himself recall from his excursion into the Diocese of Sourozh in 2006, that in his Church power comes from not from God, but from Mr. Putin, mediated by the Patriarch and then the DECR. The rebellious Brits knew this and always fight for liberty and democracy. Tough.