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News Bulletin Number 3

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HOLY AND GREAT COUNCIL OF THE ORTHODOX CHURCH

News Bulletin

OFFICE OF THE PANORTHODOX SECRETARIAT
English Version
Friday, 24 June, 2016
Number 3.

HOLY AND GREAT COUNCIL
OF THE ORTHODOX CHURCH

Orthodox Academy of Crete 18-27 June 2016

He divided the nations.
When He distributed the tongues of fire, He called all to UNITY.
And with one voice we glorify the All-Holy Spirit.
(Kontakion of Pentecost)

This Bulletin is designed as a work-tool for the information of the Observers and the accredited members of the Mass Media. The translations into other languages do not have an official character.

This Bulletin is published on the web-site of the Holy and Great Council: www.holycouncil.org

News Bulletin for 22nd and 23rd June 2016

On the progress of the deliberations of the
Holy and Great Council.

22ND JUNE

Greetings and Announcements by the Ecumenical Patriarch

During the morning session on Wednesday 22nd June 2016, His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, expressed warm wishes on behalf of the sacred body to His Eminence Eusebios the Metropolitan of Samos on the occasion of his name day.  He went on to announce that the texts on the Mission of the Orthodox Church in today's world and on the Orthodox Diaspora had not received final endorsement and signature on account of the fact that their translation into Russian had not yet been completed and he introduced for discussion the text about Autonomy and the manner in which it is proclaimed.

The Archbishop of Athens. On Autonomy.

His Beatitude the Archbishop of Athens Hieronymos, presented the amendment submitted by the delegation of the Church of Greece, concerning the non-establishment of Autonomous Churches in areas whose ecclesiastical status has already been defined by a Patriarchal and Conciliar Tome or by a Conciliar Act, clearly alluding to the so-called "New Lands" in Northern Greece and the Aegean islands.

Position of the Ecumenical Patriarch

His All-Holiness condemned those who deliberately stir up trouble over this issue, not only in order to impede the work of the Holy and Great Council, but also in order to damage the harmonious relations between the Mother and daughter Church.  Thus, he proclaimed that the Mother Church is grateful that the most Holy Church of Greece willingly accepted to administer, as trustee, her provinces known as the "New Lands", and hence has never considered, nor will she consider in the future, to ask for a change in the ecclesiastical status of these provinces by the proclamation of their Autonomy.  Accordingly, these things are noxious fantasies of those hostile to the harmonious functioning of the sisterly relations between the two Churches.

DISCUSSIONS of the Primates and Delegates on the issue of Autonomy.

Many Primates and hierarchs spoke on the matter to claim that the provisions of the text weaken the canonically established exceptional privileges of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and open up a dangerous path for the administrative fragmentation of the Orthodox Church with unforeseeable negative consequences for her unity.  Other hierarchs claimed that the Autonomous Status established in the Orthodox canonical tradition is being compromised since each Autocephalous Church is able to impose a different type of Autonomous Status and of dependence on the Autocephalous Church to which it refers.  The text was finally accepted after some editorial improvements and clarifications.

TOPIC: About Fasting.

During the afternoon session of the same day, the text on “The importance of fasting and its observance today” was introduced for discussion.  The text was considered in general as a complete and comprehensive expression of both letter and spirit of the entire age-long ecclesiastical tradition, and hence it has received only a minimum of modification in the period following its unanimous acceptance by the Third Pre-Conciliar Pan-Orthodox Conference (Chambesy, 1986).  During the discussions on the matter, their Beatitudes, the Primates, expressed their full satisfaction, both in regard to the completeness of the text and also in regard to the breadth of its perspectives concerning the pastoral distinction between canonical rigor and ecclesiastical economy in the application of these positions by the various Local Autocephalous Orthodox Churches.  Consequently, it was decided that the theological observations articulated did not touch on the substance of the matter, and so the text was unanimously accepted as it stands.

23nd  JUNE

Encyclical of the Holy and Great Council At the morning session of the Holy and Great Council, on Thursday 23rd June 2016, the Encyclical of the Holy and Great Council was read and approved by the assembly of their Beatitudes the Primates after some additions and amendments.

On the Sacrament of Marriage Thereafter the text "On the Sacrament of Marriage and its impediments", as extended and supplemented by the Meeting of their Beatitudes the Primates of the Autocephalous Orthodox Churches at Chambesy in January 2016, was read and introduced for discussion.  The discussions and the proposals for amendment and additions confirmed both the completeness of the text as well as the necessity for the positions therein presented, not only for the sacrament of Marriage, but also for the sacred institution of the Family.  In this context, the discussion centered primarily on the wording of the paragraph of the text on mixed marriages, about which the most holy Church of Georgia had expressed strong objections.

Thus, the proposed amendments, which were aimed mainly at the clarification of the letter and spirit of the particular paragraph, were supported by all their Beatitudes the Primates of the Autocephalous Orthodox Churches and by all Hierarchs who spoke on the matter, thereby covering the reservations of the Church of Georgia as to the limits of the application of ecclesiastical economy to those mixed marriages.