The Holy and Great Synod of the Orthodox Church – Planned for 2016 in Constantinople

Image from the recent Synaxis (Patriarch Daniel of Romania,
on the left, in white garments)

At the invitation of His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, the Primates of all the Orthodox Autocephalous Churches will gather from March 6-9, 2014, for a Sacred Synaxis at the Phanar in order to deliberate on matters pertaining to the entire Orthodox Church throughout the world and procedural issues for the convocation of the Holy and Great Council, whose preparation is coming to an end.

Prior to this, from March 4-5, 2014, a Preparatory Committee for the Synaxis was also held at the Ecumenical Patriarchate, chaired by His Eminence Metropolitan John [Zizioulas] of Pergamon, in order to formulate the program of proceedings and draft the Message of the Primates, who will conclude the Synaxis with a concelebration on the Sunday of Orthodoxy in the venerable Patriarchal Church of St. George, thereby also visibly expressing the unity of Orthodoxy.

During this festive Divine Liturgy on the occasion of great feast of Orthodoxy, the Message of the Primates [see below] will be read from the Patriarchal Ambon to the faithful of the Most Holy Churches throughout the world.

Message of the Primates of the Orthodox Churches (Mar 2014)

* * *

Communiqué of the Primates of the Orthodox Churches

By the grace of God, the proceedings of the Synaxis of the Primates of the Orthodox Autocephalous Churches concluded today, on the Sunday of Orthodoxy. The Synaxis took place at the Phanar from 6-9 March, 2014, at the invitation and under the presidency of His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, and was attended by all the most venerable Primates in person, with the exception of His Beatitude Patriarch John of Antioch, who, due to illness, was represented by Hierarchs of his Church.

The proceedings of the Synaxis were carried out in a very fraternal spirit; the Hierarchs discussed maters concerning the life of the Orthodox Church in the contemporary world, and particularly in regions where Orthodoxy and Christianity in general face serious problems and difficulties; the Hierarchs also expressed their support and profound interest of the Orthodox Church in its entirety concerning their fellow human beings suffering in those regions. Above all, the Synaxis considered the prevailing situation in the Middle East and recent developments in Ukraine, as well as the ongoing uncertainty about the fate of the bishops, Metropolitan John of Aleppo, and Yuhanna Ibrahim of the Syriac Church, who were kidnapped by unknown persons a very long time ago.

In the framework of their Synaxis, the Primates also deliberated on the matter of the Holy and Great Synod of the Orthodox Church and decided that, upon expediting the process of preparation, it will be convened and presided by the Ecumenical Patriarch in Constantinople in 2016.

With regard to this matter, the Primates also determined issues related to representation and participation of the Orthodox Autocephalous Churches in this Synod, as well as the manner of decision-making at the Synod.

On Sunday morning, 9th March, the feast of Orthodoxy, the Primates concelebrated in the Patriarchal Church of St. George at the Phanar, where their Message to the Orthodox faithful throughout the world, their Christian brothers and sisters everywhere, and all people of goodwill, was read officially from the pulpit.

At the Phanar, March 9, 2014

From the Chief Secretariat
of the Holy and Sacred Synod

(Source, Ecumenical Patriarchate)

* * *

HERE is an article in Huffington Post on the recent meeting.

You should also know that 2016 may be quite an optimistic estimation for this long expected Synod. HERE you may find an interview, from 2011, with Metropolitan Hilarion, charged with external relations in the Moscow Patriarchate, where he discusses some of the problems related to this planned important event. Also, HERE, you may find some statements, from the same year, made by the Georgian Patriarch, Ilia, mentioning the difficulties that need to solved before the Great Synod could takes place. Let us hope that human pride and ecclesial (or more terrestrial) politics  (if in doubt, ask Patriarch Kiril about it) will not stay, again, in the way of the Synod.

May God have mercy!

Author: DanutM

Anglican theologian. Former Director for Faith and Development Middle East and Eastern Europe Region of World Vision International

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