World Orthodox assembly set for Crete, probably in June
January 25, 2016
The long-awaited council of the world’s Orthodox leaders will be held in Crete in June.
At a weekend meeting in Switzerland to prepare for their unprecedented ecumenical council, Orthodox leaders announced that they had moved the site from Istanbul—the seat of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople—to Crete because of “exceptional objective circumstances.”
A firm date for the “Great and Holy Synod” has not yet been set. Orthodox prelates have indicated that they hope the gathering takes place at around the time of Pentecost, with most speculation centering on a June meeting.
The move to Crete resolves several concerns. A meeting in Istanbul could have been uncomfortable because of a rising tide of Islamic militancy in Turkey. Delegates from the Patriarchate of Moscow might have been barred from attending because of political tensions between Russia and Turkey. And the Moscow patriarchate, which have vied with Constantinople for leadership in the Orthodox world, may have had misgivings about a meeting held at the headquarters of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
The island of Crete provides a politically neutral site for the Great and Holy Synod. Although politically Crete is a part of Greece, the Orthodox Church there is under the authority of the Patriarchate of Constantinople.
In addition to relocating the site of the council, Orthodox delegates agreed that the topics to be discussed would include the authority and governance of the autocephalous churches, a common liturgical calendar, ecumenism, and Christian involvement on social issues.
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