The Curious Council

Archpriest Andrew Phillips


The Inter-Orthodox Council, with a token number of bishops from each of the fourteen Local Churches and supposed to take place in May 2016 to discuss administrative issues, is looking increasingly troubled. First, there is the schism between the Patriarchates of Jerusalem and Antioch. Then there were rumours after contacts with top US officials that the US State Department was trying to set the agenda, specifically regarding homosexuality. Then there was news from the Russian Orthodox Church that delegates from several Local Churches, notably the Russian, the Romanian (the second biggest) and the Georgian, had failed to agree on the contents of several points in the seemingly US-determined agenda.

Hierarchs of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church then expressed popular concern that the Council was taking place at all. After all Constantinople had not long before sent schismatic representatives of the Ukrainian Church in Canada (the fraction under Constantinople) to Kiev for reasons which the Ukrainian Church naturally found sinister. After this came the news that the elderly Patriarch Bartholomew had erected a statue to himself and that he would never recognize the Carpatho-Russian Metr Rostislav as the representative of the Church of the Czech Lands and Slovakia. Then came the Patriarch’s visit to Bulgaria when he insulted the Bulgarian people and a diplomatic incident followed and the Bulgarian Prime Minister refused to meet the Patriarch. Some even asked if Patriarch Bartholomew’s behaviour was designed to sabotage his own Council.

After this the Synod in Constantinople sacked the hierarch appointed only two years before for the modernist Paris Jurisdiction, Archbishop Job. Next came the shooting down by Turkey – some say at US instigation – of a Russian aeroplane. The result of this is that the Russian delegation felt unable to attend the next preparatory meeting in Istanbul for the future Council. Indeed, the question was asked if the Council could even take place in Istanbul, as had been proposed. Some have suggested, as we suggested in our booklet, ‘The World Council of Orthodoxy’ in May 2007, that any future Council take place at the New Jerusalem Monastery outside Moscow, where alone a politically free Council could take place.

Next came the Pope’s welcome for the Council – in effect compromising it, making it appear just to be a cheap copy of the Vatican’s disastrously divisive and US-Protestant-style Second Council of 50 years ago. Then came the Pope’s greeting to Patriarch Bartholomew on the Catholic St Andrew’s Day, looking forward to the day when Catholics, without repentance, would be in full communion with Constantinople. Then came the news that a joint commission of the Russian and Bulgarian Churches had agreed that there were no objections to the canonization of the much revered Archbishop Seraphim (Sobolev), the archbishop in Sofia of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia who was the hero of the Moscow Council of 1948, which denounced ecumenism.

Now news has come that Archbishop Jerome of Athens, the head of the Church of Greece, will not attend the next preparatory meeting in Istanbul. There is speculation that this is connected with the imperialistic and meddling claims of Patriarch Bartholomew to Greek territory. And also the news that Rome and Constantinople are celebrating (!) the 50th anniversary of the highly controversial (and some would say meaningless) lifting of the 1054 anathemas between Rome and Constantinople does not help. As Patriarch Alexis I of Moscow pointed out at the time this event has no importance whatsoever for the mass of the Orthodox Church as a whole, since it is an event that concerns only the tiny Local Church of Constantinople and Roman Catholicism. Even so the event was rejected at the time and is still today rejected by the devout and politically free of the Patriarchate of Constantinople.

It can be concluded without hesitation that the Patriarchate of Constantinople is looking increasingly isolated from mainstream of the Orthodox Church and its Council project, at least in its old form, is looking increasingly in doubt. As has been said throughout Christian history: man proposes, but God disposes.

Archpriest Andrew Phillips

Orthodox England

13 декабря 2015 г.

Храм Новомученников Церкви Русской. Внести лепту
Rachel25 января 2016, 14:00
Why so much negativity and hatred. "Whoever is for us is not against us". Isn't some positivity, some constructive moves, better than petty squabbling over times and seasons? He who honours the day regards it to the Lord and he who doesn't honour the day, to the Lord he does not honour it. Jesus spoke with Samaritans, whom the Pharisees believed to be utterly incorrect and on the wrong path, beyond the pale! He engaged in constructive dialogue. Anyway it is totally confusing to the common people, to find the priests and hierarchy stating categorically one should avoid this Orthodox Church and that Orthodox Church, because they have the wrong calendar, speak the wrong language, don't fast enough, fast on the wrong day, wear the wrong clothes to church, sing in the wrong way, etc etc. Who is to be believed? ------------------------------------------------------ Considered to be the most important meeting of the world’s Orthodox Christian bishops in over a thousand years, the Great and Holy Synod which was to convene at the headquarter city of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople in Istanbul, Turkey, is being relocated to Crete, citing geopolitical concerns.
Haris12 января 2016, 15:00
The Orthodox Church needs a Council that has the potential of being proclaimed in the future as Ecumenical. For the Council to be Ecumenical it has to uphold the 8th (879 AD) and 9th (1341 AD) Councils. It also has to mend the rift created in the Orthodox world because of the calendar change.
Dr Vladimir de Beer25 декабря 2015, 16:00
Dear Father Andrew, thank you very much for this. You remain one of the few English-speaking Orthodox clergymen who are ever ready to speak out and defend the Church against modernist and liberalist aberrations.
William Bush16 декабря 2015, 22:00
Fr Phillips doesn't seem to have anything halfway positive to say about anything or anyone. Lots of speculation, and the remark about holding a politically free council at the New jerusalem Monastery seems like a joke today. I like his material on Western saints but find such articles distasteful. He's a modernist, Constantinople Ukrainians are schismatics, etc., etc... Dear do yourself a favor. Stop posting such stuff.
Bertinos15 декабря 2015, 12:00
This is agenda is fundamentally different from the indeed ill-fated Second Vatican Council! Moreover, even not the Ecumenical Patriarchate is advocating any significant changes! Last but not least: there is already an agreement on 7 issues, and only the issue of autocephaly and the issue of the order of commemoration have encountered serious difficulties, although these are not fundamental issues to the teachings and life of the Church. Seemingly "diificult" issues such as relations with the heterodox christians have been discussed at length before. I'd advise these sound articles on an Athonite (!) website and for more information on this topic.
Bertinos15 декабря 2015, 12:00
With all due respect, but I'm afraid that I don't believe that this Council is being orchestrated by the CIA, FSB, Freemasons, Jesuits, Jews, or whoever would like to benefit from it. I sincerely believe that this Council is an opportunity to (start to) cure some wounds in our Church and to strenghten its witness in our terrified world. To make this clear: the themes which will be addressed are: 1. the matter of the Orthodox diaspora; 2. autocephaly and the manner in which it can be proclaimed; 3. autonomy and the manner in which it can be proclaimed; 4. the diptychs; 5. the calendar question; 6. impediments to marriage; 7. the importance of fasting and its observation today; 8. relations between the Orthodox Church and the rest of the Christian world; 9. the mission of the Orthodox Church in the modern world: the contribution of the Orthodox Church to the establishment of peace, justice, freedom, brotherhood and love among nations and the elimination of racial and other forms of discrimination.
Elijah Borek13 декабря 2015, 22:00
Amen Father Andrew.
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