In the recent days, Orthodox Churches, one after another, keep refusing to participate in the Pan-Orthodox Council on June 17-26 in Crete. The Bulgarian Church was the first to announce that, followed by the Church of Antioch (Syria). But with absence of at least one of 14 Local Churches, the Council loses the status of pan-Orthodox, and its decisions become not mandatory for those absent. Chairman of the Russian Orthodox Church’s department for relations with society and media Vladimir Legoyda has shared with TASS his view of what is going on.
- How do you assess the situation with preparation of the Pan-Orthodox Council in Crete?
The events of the recent days show that local Orthodox Churches have questions regarding the conditions and circumstances of holding the Pan-Orthodox Council
- The events of the recent days show that local Orthodox Churches have questions regarding the conditions and circumstances of holding the Pan-Orthodox Council. We became witnesses to the decisions that were made by the Bulgarian, and then Antioch, Churches, which refused to take part in the Council. This may probably be called a crisis of preparation of a pan-Orthodox event, because without total participation the Council loses its significance.
- Why do Churches make such demarches one after another over such a short period? Didn’t they have the opportunity to voice their positions before, when the time for the Council was not appointed yet?
- In relations between Orthodox churches, in line with established practice, it is not accepted to speak with public complaints, the relations are of a confidential nature. But it may be supposed that a critical mass of unresolved contradictions has formed, which would be wrong to endlessly postpone until better days. The talk is about responsibility not for ourselves but for our flock, care about whom underlies the actions of any bishop.
- What should be done next, what proposals does the Russian Orthodox Church have?
The Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church on June 3 proposed an order of emergency actions, which would make it possible to take into account the interests of all Churches
- The Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church, which has attached great significance to the holding of the Council in conditions of fraternal love and Orthodox unity, on June 3 proposed an order of emergency actions, which would make it possible to take into account the interests of all Churches. For that, it would be necessary to just gather once again and hear each other’s considerations. Such a conference may become proof of goodwill for dialogue, the desire to take into account the voice of each Church. Unfortunately, we have not received an official response to that address to the Patriarchate of Constantinople. And the decision of the Synod of the Church of Constantinople, published after our address, is apparently called upon to testify that there are no substantial problems in the process of preparation of the Council. I believe that today it is rather evident that it is not true. There are problems – we started our conversation from that today. But there also is a way of solving them, suggested by the Russian Church.
- What was the reaction of Orthodox believers to Constantinople’s decisions?
- We are currently attentively studying the reaction to the latest decision by Fener: the reaction of other Churches and our believers. The Church of Antioch decided not to go to the Council after a statement by the Constantinople Synod. The Georgian Church has an intention to discuss problems of preparation of the Council at its Synod. Many believers of our Church expressed words of regret that Fener actually ignored the importance of the principle of pan-Orthodox consent, collegiality, which rules out adoption of individual decisions.
- How will the Russian Orthodox Church’s decision on participation in the upcoming Council be made? Will a Synod be convened for that?
- With account for all circumstances, which, as you see, change each day, the decision to convene the Synod has not been made as of now.
Interviewed by Avgusta Yakovleva