MOSCOW, January 28. /TASS/. The forthcoming Great and Holy Council of the Orthodox Church that will bring together the ruling hierarchs of the all fifteen national Orthodox Churches on the Isle of Crete in June will determine the procedure of granting autonomy to Churches. Moscow Patriarchate has published a draft document that spells out the procedure and that might be adopted at the Council after appropriate discussions and editing.
Intense discussions of possible autonomy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church reporting to the so-called the Kiev Patriarchate are underway in the world of Eastern Orthodoxy but the Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia Kirill I told reporters earlier this week the supreme hierarchs of the fifteen national Churches had adopted a decision to recognize the Ukrainian Orthodox Church reporting to the Moscow Patriarchate as the only canonical Orthodox Christian organization on the Ukrainian territory.
The draft document suggests that a Church seeking autonomy will be expected to file a request with a national (autocephalous) Church where it would explain for the seriousness of the motives that have prompted it to ask for autonomy.
A national (autocephalous) Church will retain the power to decide whether or not the request should be fulfilled.
Autonomous Churches will get the right to take part in the pan-Orthodox, inter-Christian and inter-religious relations through the autocephalous Churches, which granted the autonomy to them.
Notably, the autonomous statute can be granted to a Church located within the geographic district of an autocephalous Church.
Efforts to prepare the Pan-Orthodox Cathedral started out as far back as in 1961 and have been proceeding with certain intervals ever since then. It is likely to become a milestone event for the entire Orthodox world.
Each national Orthodox Church will send 24 bishops to the Cathedral.
Apart from the Russian Church, there are fifteen national or autocephalous Eastern Orthodox Churches that function independently of one another but are linked through liturgical communications the Church of Constantinople (Turkey), the Church of Alexandria (Egypt), the Church of Antioch (Syria), the Church of Jerusalem, the Georgian, Serbian, Romanian, Bulgarian, Cyprian, Helladic, Polish and Slovak Churches, and the American Church.
The Russian Orthodox Church with an estimated congregation of about 50 million believers is the largest of them.
The last officially recognized Pan-Orthodox Council, which is recognized by the Eastern Orthodox Churches as an ecumenical one, took place in Constantinople in 879.