The Future Pan-Orthodox Council: To Be or Not To Be?
#1
I wasn't aware the Orthodox churches were going to attempt to have a council, so the article was an interesting read. That said, I'll believe it when I see it.

THE FUTURE PAN-ORTHODOX COUNCIL: TO BE OR NOT TO BE?
By Paul L. Gavrilyuk

Over the last two years, the Patriarchate of Constantinople has repeatedly announced that the much anticipated Great and Holy Council will take place around the Feast of Pentecost in June 2016. When it happens, this Council will be an event of considerable historical import, bringing together the leaders of all Orthodox Churches for the first time since 787. Unfortunately, not all Orthodox leaders are equally enthusiastic about the Council and some are even trying to prevent it. Why is the idea of the Council so controversial? Who are the main players in this controversy? If the Council takes place, what might it achieve?

With the exception of a few brief announcements, the preparation of the Council has been kept out of the public eye. The reasons for such secrecy are threefold. First, the leaders of the Orthodox Churches have a relatively poor record of relating to mass media. It is important not to oversensationalize the Council, which may prove to be a disappointment in the long run. Second, in the twentieth century, there have already been repeated unsuccessful attempts to gather such a Council. Given the history of these failures, it is reasonable for the Orthodox Church leaders to proceed with due caution to spare themselves yet another public embarrassment. Finally, the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, who has made the Council his main preoccupation in recent years, exercises extreme caution in speaking about his own hopes for the Council. The Patriarch of Constantinople does not wish to produce the impression that the Council is primarily his initiative or to provoke the Council’s detractors in any way.

Read the rest here https://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusiv...-not-to-be

Edited by Vox to remove ALL CAPS subject line
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#2
Edit-Sorry about the all caps title. I can't seem to fix it.
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#3
I kind of hope it doesn't happen. I don't think anything good can come of it. I guess I'm more Slav Old Believer in sentiment, and so I'm radically skeptical of anything that comes from the Ecumenical Patriarch and modern Greeks. I've heard before that this Council will supposedly not touch on anything important, but I fear it'll be a modernist Orthodox version of Vatican II. To many Orthodox the new calenderist and ecumenist Patriarch Bartholemew is every bit as suspect as Pope Francis.

Russia will never go along with this, and so round and round we go...

The Russians would do well to simply stay far far away from this. 
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#4
(01-23-2016, 08:20 AM)formerbuddhist Wrote: I kind of hope it doesn't happen. I don't think anything good can come of it. I guess I'm more Slav Old Believer in sentiment, and so I'm radically skeptical of anything that comes from the Ecumenical Patriarch and modern Greeks. I've heard before that this Council will supposedly not touch on anything important, but I fear it'll be a modernist Orthodox version of Vatican II. To many Orthodox the new calenderist and ecumenist Patriarch Bartholemew is every bit as suspect as Pope Francis.

Russia will never go along with this, and so round and round we go...

The Russians would do well to simply stay far far away from this.

Where have I heard that before?? Something about a pastoral council somewhere...


I wish our bishops would be more careful. I hate to say it but I can't help feeling resentment for our bishops.

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#5
It certainly is interesting to watch, but we'll see. I think it is pretty widely thought that the Russians will ultimately not participate, and the same for the Serbs and the Greeks. If that's the case, any pretensions to "Pan-Orthodox" would have to be abandoned, though to be fair, the EP is not officially calling it a "Pan-Orthodox" council. The Russians are participating in the preparatory works, though, so it remains to be seen.

I don't fear an "Orthodox Vatican II" exactly because of the reasons you give for the ultimate participation of the ROC being up in the air. Russians make up an enormous percentage of the Orthodox faithful worldwide, whether counting all nominal members or even just those that are actually active, and the Patriarch of Moscow is arguably the most powerful hierarch, despite Moscow being fifth in canonical order, after the ancient patriarchates of Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem. The ROC (and, good Lord, the Serbs) are very opposed to most of the liberalizing tendencies in Orthodoxy.

I also think that Orthodox theology on what constitutes an ecumenical council might prevent a Vatican II-style revolution. From the Catholic standpoint, it basically comes down to whether the Pope ratifies a council as ecumenical and approves its decrees. In Orthodoxy, there's not one particular answer to the question of how to determine which councils are ecumenical; generally it is a form of receptionism - if a council's decrees are accepted by the Church at large, then it has ecumenical authority. Whatever logical problems one might bring forward against such a position, it makes radical change pretty difficult.
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#6
(01-23-2016, 10:58 AM)aquinas138 Wrote: It certainly is interesting to watch, but we'll see. I think it is pretty widely thought that the Russians will ultimately not participate, and the same for the Serbs and the Greeks. If that's the case, any pretensions to "Pan-Orthodox" would have to be abandoned, though to be fair, the EP is not officially calling it a "Pan-Orthodox" council. The Russians are participating in the preparatory works, though, so it remains to be seen.

I don't fear an "Orthodox Vatican II" exactly because of the reasons you give for the ultimate participation of the ROC being up in the air. Russians make up an enormous percentage of the Orthodox faithful worldwide, whether counting all nominal members or even just those that are actually active, and the Patriarch of Moscow is arguably the most powerful hierarch, despite Moscow being fifth in canonical order, after the ancient patriarchates of Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem. The ROC (and, good Lord, the Serbs) are very opposed to most of the liberalizing tendencies in Orthodoxy.

I also think that Orthodox theology on what constitutes an ecumenical council might prevent a Vatican II-style revolution. From the Catholic standpoint, it basically comes down to whether the Pope ratifies a council as ecumenical and approves its decrees. In Orthodoxy, there's not one particular answer to the question of how to determine which councils are ecumenical; generally it is a form of receptionism - if a council's decrees are accepted by the Church at large, then it has ecumenical authority. Whatever logical problems one might bring forward against such a position, it makes radical change pretty difficult.

But what about the calendar issue? The move to the new style calendar was hardly a pan Orthodox affair, and yet it's in some ways deeply divided the various Orthodox churches. The Ecumenical Patriarch is deeply suspect in the eyes of many more conservative Orthodox.

You're right though, I mean there is no top down monarchy in the various Orthodox churches. At their best they run on Sobornost, although admittedly this has often just been an ideal and not reality.

I wonder what the mad drive for a pan Orthodox Council is these days though? Why? Why is it such a big thing. Why now? It seems like the ones most interested are the usual suspects, Metropolitan Kallistos Ware, the OCA modernists and others influenced by the so called Paris school... and of course the EP who is about as conservative in the Orthodox world as Pope Francis is in the Catholic.
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#7
I think the calendar issue is exactly why there won't be more unilateral moves. Ecumenical as the Ecumenical Patriarch may be, he really can't afford to totally alienate the rest of Orthodoxy, particularly Russia. His position is always tenuous in Turkey. He does have a more exalted of his primacy than Moscow does, though...

I think there are some issues that at least some of the Churches want to sort out, some of which are extremely touchy subjects. Most of them have to do with the diaspora, particularly things like how autocephaly is granted. It's a common thing for Constantinople to grant autocephaly to a Church and Moscow not recognize it for decades, and vice versa. Though I think it's unlikely to be on the agenda at the proposed council, the issue of overlapping jurisdictions in the diaspora is another. Most "old country" Churches aren't necessarily in a hurry to fix that - a lot of money comes in from New World parishes. The EP in particular benefits from diaspora money.

An issue that probably could be sorted out might be standardizing things like canonical impediments to marriage or other marriage-related issues. There is some variation across jurisdictions on these issues, and they can be confusing for the faithful in countries like the US where multiple jurisdictions operate in the same place.

I would be shocked if the calendar issue surfaces in any meaningful way. The status quo will continue with that for some time.
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#8
http://ad-orientem.blogspot.com/2016/01/...naxis.html


Quote:Ecumenical Patriarch addresses Synaxis of the Primates of the Orthodox Churches on preparations for the Great and Holy Council
From 22 to 27 January 2016, at the Orthodox Centre of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Chambésy, the works of the Synaxis of the Primates of the Orthodox Churches are being carried out.

At the opening of the event, His Holiness Bartholomew, Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, delivered a speech thanking the other Primates of the Orthodox Churches, as well as the delegations, for accepting to change the place of the Synaxis from the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s residence in Istanbul, Turkey, to the Chambésy Orthodox Centre of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, which is “meant for serving the pan-Orthodox unity, and which for a long time has hosted and still hosts many inter-Orthodox and pan-Orthodox meetings”.

Next, the Ecumenical Patriarch referred to the themes that will be discussed at the Holy and Great Synod, themes that have been established at the first Presynodal Pan-Orthodox Conference of 1976, namely:

  1. The Orthodox Diaspora;
  2. Autocephaly and the way it is to be proclaimed;
  3. Autonomy and the way it is to be proclaimed;
  4. Diptychs;
  5. Common Calendar;
  6.  Impediments to marriage;
  7.  Adaptation of the fasting ordinances;
  8.  Relations of the Orthodox Churches with the whole Christian World;
  9.  The Orthodoxy and the ecumenical movement;
  10.  Contributions of the local Orthodox Churches to the promotion of the Christian ideals of peace, freedom, brotherhood and love among peoples, and elimination of racial discrimination.

Nevertheless, His Holiness noted that consensus hasn’t been reached on some themes during the meetings of the Commission for the Preparation of the Holy and Great Synod, thus asking whether the 8 themes that were validated at a Pan-Orthodox level are sufficient for the agenda of the Synod, or is it necessary to postpone the convocation of the Synod until the pan-Orthodox unanimity will be reached upon all the other themes (autocephaly, diptychs, impediments to marriage and common calendar).

The Holy and Great Synod is of direct and vital interest both for the Orthodox lay faithful, clergy and monastics, and for the rest of the Christian world

Emphasizing the fact that “the Holy and Great Synod is of direct and vital interest both for the Orthodox lay faithful, clergy and monastics, and for the rest of the Christian world”, His Holiness added that several other persons should attend to the works of the Holy and Great Synod as observers: both clergy, monastics and lay faithful of the Orthodox Church, and those of other Christian Churches or Confessions, found in dialogue with the Orthodox Church. The Ecumenical Patriarch offered as an example the fact that at the works of the Second Vatican Council, the Orthodox Church delegated persons as observers to attend the Council.

Referring to the fact that even before the meeting of the Holy and Great Synod, some “fighters for Orthodoxy” call it a robber council, the Ecumenical Patriarch asks what kind of authority will its decisions have, and which are going to be the canonical consequences in case of disobeying these decisions.

The Patriarch of Constantinople also spoke about the significance of the words consensus and unanimity. Furthermore, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew emphasized the fact that “if a synod meets under the threat of its dissolution, it had better not taken place” and referred to some Ecumenical Synods that met even when some local Churches were absent.

His Holiness addressed to other practical details: the duration of the Holy and Great Synod, and the establishment of a common secretariat of the Synod. The Ecumenical Patriarch proposed that the Pan-Orthodox Synod should be carried out for at least two weeks, and its works should be accompanied by religious manifestations.

“Finally, brethren, farewell. Become complete. Be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you” (2 Corinthians 13: 11) were the biblical words with which His Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew concluded his speech.

According to this it sounds quite a lot like Vatican II.... It also looks like the calendar might actually be discussed.

At any rate I don't worry all that much, the more traditional Orthodox and those who still follow the old calendar will not accept this Council anyway.  One cannot force unity and obedience on people, at least not in the Orthodox world. As much as ecumenists on both sides want things like a common fixed date for Easter,or everyone following the Gregorian calendar it's just not going to happen without a fight.

I suppose I'm a product of my own era but the mere mention of synods and councils with grand and pompous schemes and designs gives me the willies....
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#9
I honestly don't see the big deal with the calendar. The Gregorian calendar is astronomically accurate. Besides the fact that it's Catholic and not traditional, I don't see the big deal. I'm sure it would drive a lot of work to update feast days and things of that nature. Still, it would be nice if the Orthodox celebrated Easter and (maybe) Christmas on the same day.
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#10
(01-26-2016, 11:16 AM)GangGreen Wrote: I honestly don't see the big deal with the calendar. The Gregorian calendar is astronomically accurate. Besides the fact that it's Catholic and not traditional, I don't see the big deal. I'm sure it would drive a lot of work to update feast days and things of that nature. Still, it would be nice if the Orthodox celebrated Easter and (maybe) Christmas on the same day.


Astronomical accuracy is beside the point though, at least as far as Orthodox are concerned. The Orthodox have been on the Julian calendar since the council of Nicea. It's a icon of sacred time to them, and a symbol of unity. Of course it's irrelevant to Roman Catholics, but the calendar issue is rightly major in the Orthodox world, and conservative amongst them will not let it go so easily.
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