Serbian Church calls for postponing Pan-Orthodox Council
The Serbian Orthodox Church has suggested that the Holy and Great Synod of autocephalous Orthodox churches be postponed.Source: B92, Tanjug
The gathering is scheduled to take place June 17-27 in Crete, Greece.
In a letter sent to Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew on behalf of the SPC Holy Synod, SPC Patriarch Irinej said that the Serbian Church "feels it difficult to participate in the summoned Holy and Great Synod, and proposes that it be postponed for a certain time."
According to the letter, a postponement would make it possible for the Crete gathering "to be regarded as a pre-Synodal inter-Orthodox consultation with the aim of additionally preparing the Synod and improving its texts, or, at the most, as the inaugural phase of the whole synodal process, which is to be completed in subsequent continuation, in the next phase, when all disagreements are removed in favor of unity of mind and consensus of Churches."
"In this way, with the aid of God, the fruit of the Synod will be seen as witness given to our uncorrupted faith, answer to hope which abides in us as the message of salvation in Christ, directed to all, both to those who are close to us and to those who are remote, and in no case, God forbid, as germination of new pestilent schismas and para-synagogues under the excuse of falsely proclaimed zealousness and alleged preservation of Orthodoxy," Patriarch Irinej said.
The letter noted that the SPC "deems it unnecessary to stress the measure of hope, sincere commitment and contribution, according to our capacity, with which our Church participated in the preparation of the Holy and Great Synod of the Orthodox Catholic Church," but that it took into consideration "the dissatisfaction and critical remarks of certain local Churches in regard to particular texts, prepared in the pre-Synodal period."
Other reasons to suggest a postponement include " the irrevocable decision of the Patriarchates of Antiochia and Bulgaria to refrain from participating in the Synod," but also "the problems in relations and communion between Churches (Jerusalem - Аntioch because of Catar; deteriorating relations between us and the Patriarchate of Romania, which are now hard to overcome, due to the anti-canonical incursion of the latter into Eastern Serbia and the founding of a parallel diocese there, which will lead to severing of liturgical and canonical communion of the two neighboring Churches if the behavior described above is not terminated, and so on), conjointly with the perspective of allowing these problems to not be solved at the Synod but, rather, to be deferred to the post-Synodal period, as if any commission can be an organ higher than the pan-Orthodox Synod."
The letter also cited "the lack of will from our Mother Church of Constantinople to have at least one of the proposals of our Church (such as the discussion on autocephaly, right of bishops to vote at the Synod, on regarding the synods from the ninth and fourteenth centuries as ecumenical already, in the consciousness and practice of the Orthodox Church, and some other ones, perhaps less significant) included into the thematic and agenda of the Synod, and, as long as we remain obligated by the standpoints of the Holy Assembly of Bishops of our Church, officially formulated two years ago, as well as recently, at the end of the past month of May."
A message the SPC Holy Assembly of Bishops sent earlier to primates and Holy Synods of the local Orthodox churches stated that "with reason, we ask whether and in what measure the imminent Synod expresses the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church," and noted among other things, that the accepted Code of Regulations for organizing the work of the Holy and Great Synod of the Orthodox Church, introduced "a practice unknown in the synods of the Orthodox Church which have hitherto come to pass: mostly due to the imparity and inequality of all bishops at the Synod."