MOSCOW, July 26. /TASS/. By refusing to take part in June’s Council of Orthodox Churches held on the Island of Crete, the Russian Orthodox Church did not seek to downplay its role and importance, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia said on Tuesday.
Russia decided to abstain from the event, following earlier refusals by the Bulgarian, Antioch (Syrian) and Georgian churches to participate in the Council, moves that automatically deprived it of the ‘All-Orthodox’ status.
The Council that met in Crete from June 20 to June 26 was initially deemed a Holy and Great All-Orthodox Council, the first in over a thousand years. Preparations for it took a whole fifty-five years.
However, out of the fourteen local (national) Orthodox Churches existing today, four churches the Bulgarian, Antioch, Georgian, and Russian abstained from it citing their discontent with certain procedural aspects and the texts of the adopted documents.
Russia’s request to postpone the Council and settle differences on the documents’ texts was dismissed.
"By this move we in no way wanted to downplay the role and importance of the Council for those churches that had attended. But by doing this, we clearly indicated that the Council had no ‘All-Orthodox‘ status," the patriarch said after a church service at the Syrian Antioch Orthodox Church in Moscow.
"This is today's reality, nobody should be angry with this, we can only be angry with ourselves," the patriarch said.
"We believe that God will not lead the entire universal Orthodox Church along the path of new divisions, as some political forces dream, but will lead it along the path of growing brotherly love and unity," the patriarch said.