Holy & Great Orthodox Council set for June in Crete

The primates of the Orthodox Churches meeting in Chambesy, Switzerland have agreed to hold the church’s first Orthodox Holy and Great Council in almost 1000 years this June in Crete. According to a report printed by the Athens News Agency-Macedonian Press Agency the primates agreed to meet during Pentecost. The eleven primates present also agreed on a tentative agenda, setting down eight of ten topics for discussion that had been identified by preconcilar meetings. Four primates are absent from the week long gathering: Patriarch John of Antioch, Metropolitan Savvas of Poland, Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens and All Greece, while the post of primate of the Orthodox Church in the Czech Lands and Slovakia is currently vacant. Upon the request of the Russian Orthodox Church the June meeting has been moved from Istanbul to Crete due to “exceptional objective circumstances” — the clash between Russia and Turkey over Syria would prevent the Russians from attending a meeting in Istanbul. Eight topics have been also been approved for discussion: The Orthodox Diaspora; The way in which autonomy is granted to semi-independent churches within autocephalous churches; The Church calendar; Canonical impediments to marriage; Fasting rules; Relationships with the Roman Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion; The ecumenical movement; and The contribution of Orthodoxy to affirming peace, fraternity, and freedom. The topics of the Diptychs — the order of precedence of churches — and autocephaly of churches in the Ukraine and Eastern Europe has yet to be approved for debate.  In his opening address the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople told the primates “the great responsibility belongs to us now, without further delay, to convert this vision into a reality.”

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