Orthodox leaders convene in Istanbul

Vercihan Ziflioğlu
ISTANBUL – Hürriyet Daily News

The religious leaders of the Orthodox Christian world met Thursday at the Fener Greek Patriarchate to participate in a ceremony marking the beginning of a new season on Sept. 1, in accordance with Orthodox traditions. The commemoration of World Peace Day on the same date added further significance to the occasion.

The Divine Liturgy that began in the morning hours was conducted by the Fener Greek Patriarch Bartholomew and lasted until noon. The ceremony was attended by the patriarchs of Antioch, Jerusalem and Alexandria, while Archbishop Hristostomos II of the Greek Cypriot Orthodox Church, known for his political statements regarding Turkey, also partook in the ceremony.

Russia’s top religious figure, Patriarch Kirill, however, was not invited to the Liturgy, according to sources within the Patriarchate.

A protracted tension exists between the Fener Greek Patriarchy and Russian religious authorities. The Russian church, representing some 200 million Orthodox Christians, could become the epicenter of world Orthodoxy unless the Fener Greek Patriarchate gains the ecumenical title.

The meetings, which will begin Friday, will cover the effects on Orthodox Christians of the developments in the Middle East and the convention of the Sen Sinod (Spiritual Assembly) that has not assembled since 1960, Father Iokim told the Hürriyet Daily News after Thursday’s Mass.

The leading reason why the Sen Sinod has failed to convene up till now is the lack of qualified clerics resulting from the closure of the Halki Seminary on Heybeliada island.