BELGRADE, June 10. /TASS/. The Serbian Orthodox Church has informed the head of the Russian Orthodox Church Patriarch Kirill in advance about its proposal to postpone the Pan-Orthodox Council meeting in Crete, the Serbian Orthodox Church’s press service told TASS on Friday.
The letter sent by Patriarch Irinej of Serbia to Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople has also been forwarded to "all Orthodox churches primates and their Holy Synods," including the Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia.
"We are experiencing participation trouble in the convened Council and suggest postponing it for some time," Patriarch Irinej said in his letter. The Serbian Orthodox Church suggests regarding the forthcoming assembly in Crete as a Council, rather than a pre-Council inter-Orthodox conference set up for additional preparations, or as a first step towards convening the Council.
Patriarch Irinej says this process would be completed once disagreements have been ironed out, and consensus and uniformity achieved. He explained that one of the reasons for his proposal stemmed from Serbian Orthodox clerics expressing discord over the text’s draft ahead of the Council. In addition, he pointed to the "irreversible decision by the patriarchates of Antioch and Bulgaria to refrain from participating in the Council" and "communication difficulties among the churches."
Over the past days several Orthodox churches have refused to attend the Pan-Orthodox Council due in Crete on June 17-26. The Bulgarian Church was the first to declare it will be absent. The Patriarchate of Antioch (Syria) followed. And the Serbian Orthodox Church declared its refusal to attend on Thursday.
Should at least one of the local churches be absent, the Council will not be considered Pan-Orthodox and its decisions will not be mandatory for those not in attendance. The Russian Orthodox Church on June 10 put forward an idea of convening a consultative meeting first. In the meantime, the Synod of the Patriarchate of Constantinople made a decision to go ahead with preparations for the Council as planned.