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MOSCOW, June 13. /TASS/. The Russian Orthodox Church should take upon itself organization of the Pan-Orthodox Council, instead of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, Roman Silantyev, an expert in religion studies, told TASS on Monday.
"Such a Council should be convened by the Russian Orthodox Church. Constantinople has discredited itself as it might have agreed on concessions, the more so as these concessions were not of global character. The claims of the Bulgarian Church and other churches were not unsolvable," he said.
Nevertheless, the derangement of the Pan-Orthodox Council is not a motive for a split. "Splits are typically caused by other problems, but, generally speaking, what has happened is a reason for Constantinople’s discredit. As it has failed to organize the event smoothly. There were no global problems but such dictatorship, such pressure were met with no joy by the rest of the churches. As a matter of fact, Constantinople has proved its inability to be the leader of consolidation. So, Moscow should be the next leader of consolidation," the expert said.
Even if the Council is finally convened without some of the churches, it will be "a kind of consultations with zero legal consequences," Silantyev said. "They [the consequences] will be binding on those present but the core idea was to create a body whose decisions will be binding on all. Obviously, it will not happen."
After an emergency meeting of the Holy Synod on Monday, the Russian Orthodox Church said it will not take part in the Pan-Orthodox Council, due to convene on the Isle of Crete in less than a week, in case any of the 14 national churches stay away from it.
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 were needed. The Bulgarian clerics’ decision to abstain from the conference was followed by announcements on staying away on the part of other Churches - the Church of Antioch (Syria), the Serbian Church and, in the latest move, the Georgian Church. Should at least one of the 14 churches be absent from the Council, it will lose the Pan-Orthodox status and its decisions will not be binding on those absent. The Russian Orthodox Church proposed convening an urgent pan-Orthodox consultative conference before June 10 ahead of the Holy and Great Council. The Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate on June 6 made a decision to proceed with routine preparations for the Council, due in Crete on June 17-26.