The organisation of the Orthodox Church worldwide has profoundly changed during the 20th century due to the restoration or the proclamation of several autocephalous local Churches. Indeed, some local Churches, that had in the past centuries an honorific patriarchal status because their country had been in the past an independent kingdom from the Byzantine Empire, were restored as autocephalous and patriarchal Churches by the Ecumenical Patriarchate, but always in the limits of concrete state implying concrete geographical borders. This was the case of the Churches of Serbia (1920), Romania (1885 for the restoration of autocephaly, 1925 for the restoration of the patriarchate), Bulgaria (1953) and Georgia (1990). In each of these cases, the major reason for the restoration of their autocephaly and of their patriarchal status was the independence of their state either from the Ottoman empire (in the case of the first three) or from the Russian empire (for the Church of Georgia, in 1917). Although the process of the canonical proclamation of the restoration of their autocephaly by the Ecumenical Patriarchate took in certain cases a long period — in the case of the Church of Georgia, although the restoration of autocephaly was recognised 26 years later by the Church of Russia (in 1943), when both Georgia and Russia were under the Soviet Regime, it took 73 years to be canonically proclaimed by the Ecumenical Patriarchate (in 1990) —, the pleroma of the Orthodox Church did not have any major problem to accept and approve the restoration of the autocephaly and of the patriarchal status of these local Churches since they were considered in high esteem and respected as such by the conscience of the Orthodox Church. Continue reading
Homily at the Orthodox Divine Liturgy
During the 14th Plenary Session of the Joint International Commission of Theological Dialogue between the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Churches
Manoppello Sanctuary, September 18, 2016.
Eminences, Excellences, Reverend Fathers, Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
On this Sunday after the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, we heard the words of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ addressed to each one of us: “If anyone wishes to come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Mk 8:34). By His sacrifice on the Cross, our Lord and Saviour has offered himself once for all for the salvation of all, as we read in the Epistle to the Hebrews: “having been offered once to bear the sins of many” (Hb 9:28).
Your Eminence, the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church was supposed to meet on Crete in two weeks. We heard that the Church of Bulgaria will not participate, and we don’t know if the Patriarchate of Antioch will participate. The Church of Russia has also expressed some reserves. Do you think that the Council will meet?
Archbishop Job of Telmessos: The Holy and Great Council has been convoked by His All-Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch with the consent of the Primates of the Orthodox Church gathered together last January in Chambésy, near Geneva. We all heard with great sorrow the statements made by the Holy Churches of Antioch, Russia and Bulgaria. Continue reading
The Holy and Great Council and the Question of Ecumenism
The Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church to be convened on Crete on June 20-26, 2016 will be the culmination of a century of preparation. Indeed, the Patriarchal and Synodical Encyclical of Ecumenical Patriarch Joachim III of June 12, 1902, through which the Primates of the Orthodox Autocephalous Churches were called to collaborate to face the problems concerning the Orthodox Church at that time was the spark which initiated the preparation of a Great Pan-Orthodox Council. Continue reading
A brief history
The idea of the convocation of the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church dates back to the early twentieth century, the pan-Orthodox Congress of Constantinople of 1923. Seven years later, Ecumenical Patriarch Photios II convened the meeting of an inter-Orthodox preparatory committee in 1930 at the monastery of Vatopedi on Mount Athos, during which they established an initial list of 17 topics, which were raised to be addressed, including inter-Orthodox relations, the relations of the Orthodox Church with other Churches and Christian confessions, the question of the calendar and various questions of disciplinary order. Continue reading