Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Antiochian Patriarchate on Crete Council

The entire statement is available here, but the impactful bit is below. It's clear that those that didn't attend consider all that happened in Crete to be a grand preparatory event for a real Council.

(Antiochian Patriarchate) - The Fathers of the Holy Synod unanimously decided the following:
  1. Consider the meeting in Crete as a preliminary meeting towards the Pan-Orthodox Council, thus to consider its documents not final, but still open to discussion and amendment upon the convocation of the Great Panorthodox Council in the presence and participation of all the Autocephalous Orthodox Churches.
  2. Refuse assigning a conciliar character to any Orthodox meeting that does not involve all the Orthodox Autocephalous Churches, and to underline that the principle of unanimity remains the essential foundation for the common Orthodox relationships. Thus, the Church of Antioch refuses that the meeting in Crete be called a “Great Orthodox Council” or a “Great Holy Council.”
  3. Affirm that whatever was issued in the meeting in Crete, of decisions and other things, is non-binding, by any means, to the Patriarchate of Antioch and all the East.
  4. Commission the “Committee for the Follow-Up on the Council’s Issues” to study the results and consequences of the meeting in Crete and offer a detailed report to the Holy Synod of Antioch in its next meeting.
  5. Send a letter about the decision of the Holy Synod of Antioch to all the Autocephalous Orthodox Churches, as well as to the civil and religious authorities abroad.
  6. Call upon the faithful to accompany the fathers of the Holy Synod of Antioch by praying for the preservation and the total manifestation of the unity of the Orthodox Christian witness in today’s world.


  1. "Refuse assigning a conciliar character to any Orthodox meeting that does not involve all the Orthodox Autocephalous Churches" -

    So I guess if Antioch wants to be consistent, the First Council of Constantinople is now to be downgraded to a local eastern synod, since Pope Damasus and the See of Rome did not participate?

    1. Good point!

      While I appreciate Antioch's contribution to contemporary Orthodoxy I have to say that an unusual statement from the synod like this one is not unexpected given that they have embraced an form of ecclesiology that would seem to be half Roman Catholic & half Orthodox in that the patriarchate has diocese overseen by bishops who have absolutely none of their episcopal authority. Those hierarchs are merely auxiliary bishops, yet they have the ecclesiastical structure of a local church. For instance, in the entire Antiochian Archdiocese of North America where there are nine (9) dioceses there is only one (1) ruling bishop. What can one say to this?

    2. Jerusalem only has 1 bishop, the Patriarch. Istanbul has so many fictitious metropolitans of defunct sees. The AANA got screwed by it's former Metropolitan. Metropolitan Philip had pluses and minuses. This was definitely one of his negatives. The Archdiocese is just an eparchy and cannot be subdivided according to Antioch. You can read all about the back and forth on ocanews.

    3. Agreed, but my point is that the synod of Antioch did, in fact, agree to the late +Philip's wishes to strip the local bishops of their canonical episcopal authority giving it all to him, but oddly enough the Archdiocese retained the ecclesiastical structure of a traditional multi-diocesan metropolitan province.

      Antioch issued several document trying to justify their decision. None were compelling. They all indicate their choice to place contemporary corporate practices & Roman Catholic ecclesiology over the tradition of our Orthodox ecclesiology.

    4. I see a difference between Const. I and The Great and Holy Council. Const. I was originally regional and only recognized as ecumenical over time. The Great and Holy Council was designed to include, according to its own rules, the consensus of all Orthodox Churches. If this consensus has not been reached, then I do not think the Council has achieved its own goal yet.

      Secondly, I do not think that Antioch is attempting in #2 to set out an absolute criterion by which past councils can be recognized as ecumenical. I think Antioch is suggesting that if true Orthodox Churches believe there are good reasons not to fully receive the preset Council yet, then the Council should be considered neither universal nor finished.

      If you disagree with Antioch's assessment that all Orthodox Churches must agree together about the Council, why do you disagree? If all the Orthodox Churches are Orthodox, i.e., if their reasons for not agreeing are not heretical reasons, then shouldn't their agreement be necessary for universal consensus? If the Great and Holy Council itself has mandated agreement by all the churches as its standard, and this standard was agreed to by all the churches, then shouldn't that standard be met before the Council is accorded universal authority?


  2. after 50 tears, crash and burn.. stubborn ostriches..

    1. It's far from surprising when you consider that those 50 years weren't really a preparation for a 'great' or 'holy' council, so much as a funeral pier to burn traditional Orthodox theology on; thus St. Justin Popovich and Fr. Seraphim Rose both warning against proceeding under the envisioned framework.

      All things considered I'd say the bon-fire being less all encompassing than originally planned is cause for a sigh of relief; the church's immune system is still kicking.

    2. Yes. Antioch protects her flock.

  3. "Const. I was originally regional and only recognized as ecumenical over time."

    True: no Western bishops were invited, nor any from Egypt (although the Patriarch of Alexandria turned up with some 12 bishops to dispute St. Gregory the Theologian's right to be Archbishop of C'ple, they got nowhere, and immediately went home). Rome accepted the council's revision of the Nicene Creed, and rejected its canons, and demanded an ecumenical synod be held in Italy to confirm its authority, which the emperor refused. Rome did not accept the "ecumenicity" of the council until 534 AD, and Alexandria - both the Chalcedonians and the anti-Chalcedonians alike - not until some decades later.

  4. The consistency in Antioch's position lies in the principle of consensus: once this was established still her concerns were not met. The Pre-Conciliar meetings claimed to work under consensus but Antioch did not agree to the removal of four items from the agenda of the Crete meeting and had additional concerns over the procedures themselves - this was in addition to the lack of help from sister Churches over the Jerusalem Patriarchate's "Archbishop of Qatar".

    Once the principle of consensus is established it cannot be set aside when Antioch raises objections. This is why Antioch did not sign the Pre-Conciliar documents earlier this year and were so surprised when Archbp Job (Getcha) of Telmessos, in one of the press conferences, characterised Antioch's absence as simply about Qatar.