Official Documents of the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church

Encyclical of the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church

With a hymn of thanksgiving, we praise and worship God in Trinity, who has enabled us to gather together during the days of the feast of Pentecost here on the island of Crete, which has been sanctified by St. Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles, and his disciple Titus, his “true son in the common faith” (Tit 1.4), and, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, to conclude the sessions of this Holy and Great Council of our Orthodox Church – convened by His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, by the common will of Their Beatitudes the Primates of the most holy Orthodox Churches – for the glory of His most holy Name and for the great blessing of His people and of the whole world, confessing with the divine Paul: “Let people then regard us thus: as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God” (1 Cor 4.1).
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Message of the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church

To God, "the Father of mercies and all comfort," we address a hymn of thanksgiving and praise for having enabled us to gather during the week of Pentecost (18-26 June 2016) on Crete, where the Apostle Paul and his disciple Titus preached the Gospel in the early years of the life of the Church. We give thanks to the Triune God who was well pleased that in one accord we should bring to a conclusion the work of the Holy and Great Council that was convoked by His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch. Bartholomew by the common will of their Beatitudes the Primates of the local Orthodox Autocephalous Churches.
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The Importance of Fasting and Its Observance Today

Fasting is a divine commandment (Gen 2:16-17). According to Basil the Great, fasting is as old as humanity itself; it was prescribed in paradise (On Fasting, 1, 3. PG 31, 168A). It is a great spiritual endeavor and the foremost expression of the Orthodox ascetic ideal. The Orthodox Church, in strict conformity with the apostolic precepts, the synodal canons, and the patristic tradition as a whole, has always proclaimed the great significance of fasting for our spiritual life and salvation.
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Relations of the Orthodox Church with the Rest of the Christian World

The Orthodox Church, as the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, in her profound ecclesiastical self-consciousness, believes unflinchingly that she occupies a central place in the matter of the promotion of Christian unity in the world today.
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Autonomy and the Means by Which it is Proclaimed

The Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church concerned itself with the matter of Autonomy and the Means by Which it is Proclaimed. Therefore, the respective document, which was submitted by the Fifth Pre-Conciliar Pan-Orthodox Conference (Chambésy, October 10-17, 2009) was discussed and was approved with some minor amendments as follows
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The Orthodox Diaspora

The Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church concerned itself with the matter of the canonical organization of the Orthodox Diaspora. Therefore, the respective documents were discussed concerning the Orthodox Diaspora and the Rules of Operation of Episcopal Assemblies in the Diaspora, which were submitted by the Fourth Pre-Conciliar Pan-Orthodox Conference (Chambésy, 2009), and by the Synaxis of Primates of the Autocephalous Orthodox Churches (January 21-28, 2016), approving them with some minor amendments as follows:
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The Sacrament of Marriage and its Impediments

The institution of the family is threatened today by such phenomena as secularization and moral relativism. The Orthodox Church maintains, as her fundamental and indisputable teaching, that marriage is sacred. The freely entered union of man and woman is an indispensable precondition for marriage.
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The Mission of the Orthodox Church in Today’s World

For God so loved the world that he gave his Only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life (Jn 3:16). The Church of Christ exists in the world, but is not of the world (cf. Jn 17:11, 14-15). The Church as the Body of the incarnate Logos of God (John Chrysostom, Homily before Exile, 2 PG 52, 429) constitutes the living “presence” as the sign and image of the Kingdom of the Triune God in history, proclaims the good news of a new creation (II Cor 5:17), of new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells (II Pt 3:13); news of a world in which God will wipe away every tear from people’s eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain (Rev 21:4-5).
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