Orthodox to hold “Ecumenical” Council

HT to Bishop Chandler Holder Jones.

This is one stupendous piece of news I missed! Reuters reported this one on 9th March – Orthodox Churches Will Hold First Ecumenical Council In 1,200 Years In Istanbul. More accurately, this would be a Pan-Orthodox Council, unless the Pope and a representation of Roman Catholic bishops would take part. I remember reading about this possibility on one of Bishop Kallistos Ware’s books in the early 1980’s. They are finally going to do it – in 2016.

The crisis in the Ukraine is high on the agenda, as is the unity between the autocephelous and autonomous Churches that recognise each other as Orthodox. Another point is the lot suffered by middle-eastern Christians under extremist Islamic persecution.

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew has excellent relations with Pope Francis, but how sympathetic is Moscow to this accommodation? Will the Patriarch of Antioch be involved?

The Council (Constantinople V?) will be held at Hagia Irene,

a Byzantine church building in the outer courtyard of the Ottoman sultans’ Topkapi Palace. Now a museum, it has not been used as a church since the Muslim conquest of Constantinople in 1453.

This is most intriguing. Will it be a “pastoral” Council, a “dogmatic” Council, Orthodoxy’s version of Vatican II and aggiornamento?

Comments and accurate information would be appreciated.

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18 Responses to Orthodox to hold “Ecumenical” Council

  1. Cabbage says:

    It’s not an Ecumenical Council. It’s being reported as such in quite a few English-language sources, but official documents from the various Orthodox Churches have gone out of their way to avoid the word “Ecumenical”. Moreover, there are no dogmatic issues “on the table”. The Council is being convened to deal with jurisdictional and concilar issues.

    • From what I have read, most Orthodox would not consider an Ecumenical Council unless Rome is reconciled with Orthodoxy. As no dogmatic issues seem to be on the agenda, it seems to be simply a Council between as many Orthodox jurisdictions that will have anything to do with it. Apparently Antioch is not interested, but I might be wrong.

  2. caedmon says:

    I thought that a council could only be recognised as ‘ecumenical’ in retrospect, that it wasn’t something you can just organize.

  3. The only issue out there worth addressing is the jurisdictional messes in the Americas and elsewhere. Nobody is prepared to give an inch on that, so it’s not on the agenda.

    There may be a decision on autocephaly. Moscow now takes the position that this requires the unanimous consensus of the other autocephalous Churches. Speaking of which, the Orthodox Church in America was not there.

  4. StephenUSA says:

    It’s just a synod; granted, it hasn’t happened in a while at this level, so that may be news. But are there any heresies which need to be anathematized? Phyletism exists, corruption exists, lotsa things less than savory exist, but are they heresies? Not sure. Is anyone in the Church denying the Incarnation? or Resurrection? Now, there are definitely outside ideologies competing for the loyalty of the faithful and can confuse them; and the Synod very well may spend some ink hurling anathemas at them, and this can only be for the good. So expect a lot of that, if and when it happens at all. But to address primacy? Maybe, but not so far as to anathematize those who hold to Pastor Aeternus. But it could….that would take some grande cojones!

    • Dale says:

      But when the Greek archbishop in the United States can declare that being Orthodox has something to do with having Greek DNA to postulate that Phyletism is not a problem is very much lacking in seriousness, and I would venture to say that yes, Phyletism is indeed a heresy: http://www.aoiusa.org/blog/quad-city-times-archbishop-talks-about-dna-faith/

      • StephenUSA says:

        Eh, I know it can off a deep end, but I guess I don’t see the cliff as close by as you do. One, most of it is the garden variety national/tribal pride, a la the Dad in “My Big Fat Greek Wedding.” Who shouldn’t take such pride in their heritage? Secondly, and on a perhaps more serious note, you see all around nowadays things dissolving/disintegrating, perhaps due in some measure to that they were based on more transient principles, or on foundations less impervious to change, than those to which Arch. Demetrius is alluding. He’s playing it safe, and cautious, which is what most shepherds do. Is it perfect? By no means. But its his port – and that of many – in a pretty violent storm. What would you suggest is Option B with less opportunity cost?

      • Dale says:

        Stephen, do you have any examples of Roman Catholic or Anglican bishops saying that belonging to their churches is based upon DNA?

      • ed pacht says:

        The number of Anglicans in America loudly proclaiming American exceptionalism is, to my mind, a real scandal in these times. No, I haven’t heard bishops saying such things lately, but I’ve heard many of our people, including some priests do so. It’s only a few years back that it was a commonplace for bishops and other clergy of various sorts to be talking loudly and proudly about the religious heritage of Anglo-Saxons, of the Irish, of the Italians, of the Germans or the Poles, and so it goes. And this has usually been accompanied by the denigration of other groups. Yes, this kind of thinking is sub-Christian, but it most emphatically is not confined to one group or another. Phyletism is a disease that manifests all too easily in any cohesive ethnic group, and Christians of every variety are always falling into it. It’s wrong, but it is not uncommon.

      • Dale says:

        Yes, Ed, but simple nationalism of that sort (No Irishman would say that because of their genetic makeup an Englishman cannot be a Roman Catholic) is vastly different from the ecclesiastical racism that one frequently encounters in Orthodox Churches. Recently, the Greeks have now limited the number of non-Greek monastics allowed on Mt Athos, in an attempt to preserve its Greek racial heritage. I am not joking.

        An Italian might be very proud to be a Catholic because it is part of their heritage, but to my knowledge would never take the next step and declare that because of that no Spaniard can ever be a Catholic because they do not have Italian DNA.

      • StephenUSA says:

        Dale, recognizing that in a storm, just about any port will do, which Anglican or Catholic bishops can offer anything other than being tossed like a cork in the raging sea?

      • Actually, in a storm, a ship does better to heave-to and stay at sea rather than attempt a highly dangerous entry into a port, especially with a lee shore.

        In the recent storms in south-west England, it was so dangerous for some ships to stay in port that it was safer for them to put to sea.

        I don’t know how that affects your analogy.

      • Stephen says:

        It blows up my analogy! So much for the old saw of “any port in a storm.” I guess it was a landlubber who came up with that.

      • Dale says:

        I dunno Stephen. Over on Byzantine Texas not too long ago people were posting that the Anglo-Saxons (one supposes that they are even worse than the dreaded “Franks”) did not deserve to be in heaven, except at the back of the line. And only recently several have demanded that the Ukrainian Church, at least those who refuse to submit to the Russians, be “wiped off the face of the earth”; what safe port are you alluding to? This is more than nationalism, this is rank racism. What is problematic is that no one seems to feel that such sentiments are out of line.

  5. ed pacht says:

    Fr. Chadwick, should this discussion perhaps he moved into the Blowout Department?

  6. Catherine says:

    Not now, Ed. It’s become highly entertaining!

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