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Agenda set for pan-Orthodox council

January 26, 2016

The world's Orthodox leaders have set the agenda for an unprecedented Orthodox ecumenical council, to be held in Crete in June.

Concluding a weekend meeting in Geneva to prepare for the historic event, representatives of the world's autocephalous Orthodox churches reached agreement on a series of topics to be discussed at the meeting in Crete. The three topics at the top of the agenda will be autonomous self-rule in the Orthodox churches; relations between the Orthodox and other Christian groups; and the importance of fasting.

At their meeting in Geneva, the Orthodox representatives concluded that they would not be able to reach accord on the proclamation of autocephaly, the Diptychs, and the establishment of a common calendar. Therefore, by prior agreement, these topics were taken off the agenda for the "Great and Holy Synod" to take place at Crete.

In an address to the assembled Orthodox prelates, Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople-- the acknowledged "first among equals" of the world's Orthodox prelates-- observed that four items remained to be settled before the Crete meeting: the rules of the meeting itself, the invitation of observers, the assurance that the council would be considered valid, and the requirement for consensus in all official statements.

Reflecting on the last issue, the Ecumenical Patriarch argued that if consensus falls short of unanimity, and efforts to reach a unanimous agreement fall short, then the council should take official note of the disagerement, but it "does not invalidate the original position." 

 

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