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Orthodox Council, 55 years in the planning, off to a rocky start

Orthodox Council, 55 years in the planning, off to a rocky start

Meeting on the Mediterranean island of Crete, representatives began their meeting with a celebration of Orthodox Pentecost.  However, despite Russian Patriarch Kirill saying that he considered the gathering a preparatory session for a synod that will unite all the Churches “without exception,” the Russian Orthodox Church, which represents a third of all Orthodox Christians has decided to not take part.

from the BBC

“There is also a struggle for power between Russia and the Istanbul-based Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I, considered the spiritual head and “first among equals”. He is the driving force behind the meeting.

The disagreements ranged from seating plans to efforts to reconcile with the Vatican.

Moscow also fears that Patriarch Bartholomew will give support to the Ukrainian branch of the Church, fuelling what one Russian state-owned newspaper has called “a simmering religious war”.”

 

Also choosing not to participate are the churches of Antioch, Bulgaria and Georgia.

 

 

image from the BBC

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Thom Forde

Russians strike me as a dangerous lot, not just politically but ecclesiastically. They have been striving to undermine the Oecumenical Patriarch for quite a while and many Russians believe that the office of OP should transfer to Moscow because of the weakened position of Constantinople. They also lay claim (with some justification by virtue of the fact that Russians were the first to bring Orthodoxy here) to authority over all Orthodox in America.

Among other things this council was supposed to at least begin to deal with the national factionalism that exists in the US. This factionalism is potentially fatal to the American voice of Orthodoxy. While most old world patriarchs claim that the American Church is not ready for autonomy, my personal opinion is that the OWP don’t want to lose the cash flow from America. I liken the position of Orthodoxy in America to that of an older teen. No, they are not mature, but if you don’t grant them greater freedom, they never will mature.

The healthiest thing the council could do for all of Orthodoxy would be to set aside their fears of an American Church and set them on a course for domestic unity. I’m convince this in turn lead to significant growth here and to a more healthy Orthodox Church globally.

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