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Eastern Orthodox churches to hold pan-Orthodox council in 2016

March 10, 2014

The Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople will preside over a pan-Orthodox council in 2016, according to a statement from the patriarchate.

The decision to hold a pan-Orthodox council-- officially called the “Holy and Great Synod of the Orthodox Church”-- was announced at the conclusion of a meeting of all the heads of the Eastern Orthodox churches. During the meeting, the leaders also discussed the situation in Syria and Ukraine.

The Catholic Church has held 21 ecumenical councils, from the First Council of Nicaea (325) to the Second Vatican Council (1962-65). The Orthodox churches recognize the validity of the first seven of these councils and have not held a pan-Orthodox council, though Orthodox prelates attended the Second Council of Lyon (1274) and the Council of Florence (fifteenth century), effecting temporary reunions with the Holy See.

In what could be an early indication of the difficulties that will be involved in bringing together all the leaders of the Orthodox world, the Patriarchate of Antioch “suspended” its support for the joint announcement, citing a dispute with the Patriarchate of Jerusalem. The Antioch patriarchate complained that the Orthodox Church of Jerusalem has created a crisis by establishing a diocese in Qatar, “within the canonical boundaries of the Patriarchate of Antioch.” Until that crisis is resolved, representatives said, the Antioch patriarchate will suspend its involvement in joint activities.

The Russian Orthodox Church has already indicated a resistance to the call for a pan-Orthodox council.


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  • Posted by: jeremiahjj - Mar. 11, 2014 9:47 AM ET USA

    There are varying degrees of Christian schism, beginning with the Orthodox and ending who knows where in Protestantism. The Orthodox maintain sacramental purity but are divided on authority and primacy. The Lutherans are split into synods that have little to do with each other and no primacy. The Anglicans give a nod and wink to the Archbishop of Canterbury, while the rest of Protestantism treads water wherever it will. "That they all might be one" resonates only in Rome and Constantinople.