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ATHENS, June 6. /TASS/. The Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople said on Monday the dates of the Pan-Orthodox Council, which is expected to bring together the heads of all the canonical national (local) Orthodox Churches on the isle of Crete at the end of this month, will not be changed and the Council will take place as scheduled from June 19 to June 26.
A communique the Chief Secretariat of the Ecumenical Patriarchate published after an emergency meeting its Synod said: "The Sacred (…) Synod was informed with surprise and wonder of the positions and opinions expressed recently by some sister Orthodox Churches and, after evaluating these, ascertained that no institutional framework allows for the revision of the Synodal process already under way."
"Therefore, it is expected that the Primates of the most holy Orthodox Churches will bring, in accordance with the Organization and Working Procedure of the Holy and Great Council, any "proposals to amend, correct, or append the Synodal texts that were unanimously approved by the Pan-Orthodox Preconciliar Meetings and by Synaxes (assemblies on occasions of special liturgical events - TASS) of the Primates pertaining to the agenda topics" (…) for final formulation and decision during the sessions of the Holy and Great Council, with the invocation and inspiration of the All-Holy Spirit," the communique said.
The Ecumenical Patriarchate also recalled it was bearing responsibility for safeguarding the unity of Orthodoxy. In this connection it called on all the Churches "to rise to the occasion and participate, on the pre-determined dates, in the sessions of the Holy and Great Council, as was decided and signed on a pan-Orthodox level both by the Primates during the Sacred Synaxes, as well as by those authorized by each Delegation during the entire lengthy preparatory process of the Council."
The Holy and Great Orthodox Council, preparations for which started as far back as in 1961, is supposed to become the fullest and most authoritative assembly of top clerics of the Orthodox Christian world in almost a thousand years. Each of the fourteen national (local) Orthodox Churches is expected to delegate 24 high-rank representatives there.
Problems sprang up in the course of final preparations for the assembly recently, with the Bulgarian Orthodox Church saying its clerics will not attend the Council, since more preparations are needed.
Reports in the Russian media said the Bulgarian Church has objections against the contents of certain basic documents the Council is due to endorse. The Georgian Orthodox Church, too, has voiced objections against the documents on Christian marriage and the contemporary mission of the Church.
Moscow Patriarchate said in the wake of the situation it would make sense to hold an emergency Pan-Orthodox Pre-Council Conference before June 10 where the current turn of the situation could be considered and the participants could scrutinize the amendments the national Churches had made for the basics documents prepared for endorsement.