During a meeting of the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church in Moscow on June 3, 2016, it was noted that as the Pan-Orthodox Council approaches, serious problems have arisen demanding immediate action throughout the Orthodox Church.
“The decision of the Holy Synod of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church of June 1, 2016, as well as the continuing uncertainties regarding the possible absence of the Antiochian Patriarchate from the Holy and Great Council, as well as the absence of a preliminary consensus on the proposed Regulations of the Council and the document titled ‘The Mystery of Matrimony and Obstacles in Its Way’ mean that at the present time, with the opening of the Council scheduled for only two weeks from now, there are serious problems which demand immediate pan-Orthodox actions,” reads the decision of the Holy Synod.
The Holy Synod confirmed the corrections made by the Russian Orthodox Church in other draft documents: “The Relationship of the Orthodox Church Towards the Rest of the Christian World” and “The Mission of the Church in the Contemporary World.” The corrections were formulated on the basis of opinions expressed by bishops, clergymen, monastics and laity. The decisions of the Synod indicate that the results of discussion of the drafts for the Pan-Orthodox Council on the part of Georgian, Serbian, Bulgarian and the Greek Orthodox Churches, as well as the Holy Kinot of Holy Mount Athos also introduced significant corrections, in many ways echoing the proposals of the Russian Orthodox Church, which demand serious examination with the goal of seeking out an all-Orthodox consensus.
The Holy Synod noted that the absence of even one of the Churches from the Council will amount to an insurmountable obstacle in convening a Holy and Great Council, taking into account that its decisions can only be adopted on the basis of consensus, in accordance with the regulations contained in documents approved by the Council of the Primates of Local Orthodox Churches.
In accordance with the decision of the Holy Synod, one way out of this extraordinary situation would be to convene an extraordinary Pan-Orthodox Pre-Council Assembly to consider the situation as it has evolved and the examination of the corrections of the draft documents submitted by the Local Orthodox Churches with the aim of developing unanimous proposals. The conclusions of such an assembly, as the Holy Synod declared, could lead to a decision regarding the possibility of convening the Pan-Orthodox Council at the scheduled time.
The position of the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church will be delivered to the Primates of all the Local Orthodox Churches.