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Pan-Orthodox council opens with call to unity

June 21, 2016

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople celebrated the Divine Liturgy of Pentecost on June 19 to open the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church.

In recent weeks, four of 14 autocephalous Orthodox churches chose not to send delegations to the council.

“Our Orthodox Church has the supreme gift and blessing of possessing the treasure of truth and preserving intact the gift of the All-Holy Spirit, which 'has filled the whole world' (Wis. 1:7), and it is obliged to give the contemporary world a testimony of love and unity, and to reveal the hidden hope that lies within it,” he preached at the Cathedral of St. Minas in Heraklion, Crete.

“Regardless of our different opinions, we Orthodox Christians ought to point out that the only road on our course in this world is unity,” he continued. “Of course, this road demands a living sacrifice, much work, and is achieved after great struggle. It is certain that this Council of ours will contribute towards this direction by creating a climate of mutual trust and understanding through our meeting in the Holy Spirit and through an edifying and sincere dialogue.”


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  • Posted by: Archpriest - Jun. 21, 2016 11:36 PM ET USA

    As a Melkite Greek-Catholic priest, let me point out that the 7 Great Councils of the Church have always been "messy" affairs and it is not the Pope of Rome who assures Church unity but the gift of the Holy Spirit. Despite the failings of men, it isthe Consoler, the Spirit of Truth who guides the Church of Christ through stormy waters. The Pope of Rome, as first-among-equals, stand in charity among his fellow bishops, not above them. Unity calls for humility not self-righteous triumphalism.

  • Posted by: Lucius49 - Jun. 21, 2016 8:43 AM ET USA

    The headline is misleading because as various orthodox churches refused to attend it is an indication that there is no Orthodox Church but individual autocephalous churches all "popes" in their own right. This is one of the results of separation from Rome whose charism is the unity of all the churchs: one faith, one Lord, one baptism. The decisions of this council again will be open to take or leave it by all the autocephalous churches. That we all may be one.