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Leading Orthodox theologian: forthcoming council is ‘extraordinary and exceptional event’

February 04, 2016

A leading Eastern Orthodox theologian has offered an overview of the upcoming Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church.

Writing in First Things, Archdeacon John Chryssavgis said that the council, from the Orthodox point of view, is not properly described as an ecumenical council because “whole church that must convene—East and West—in order for a council to be considered ecumenical.”

At the same time, this “extraordinary and exceptional event” is “entirely without precedent in the history of Christianity,” wrote Chryssavgis, who serves as Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew’s theological advisor for environmental issues and was cited by Pope Francis in his ecological encyclical Laudato Si’.

“Some are afraid of [the council’s] consequences for the purity of Orthodox doctrine; it may shed light on practices in isolated communities, which have long resisted and reacted against the modern ways of the West,” Chryssavgis continued. “But others see this as a unique moment in the life and witness of an ancient church; it is an opportunity for Orthodox theology to speak a prophetic voice of hope and light in a time of anxiety and uncertainty.”


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