Monday, June 20, 2016

The Great & Holy Council: Potentially Huge News

 In addition to discussing the six documents prepared beforehand at previous conferences, participants at the ongoing council, begun yesterday on the Great Feast of Pentecost on the island of Crete, are also to deliberate over and publish the official "Message" of the council.

A draft of the document covers an array of topics including the questions of remarriage and marriage to non-Orthodox, the oneness and unity of the Church in the holy Eucharist, the importance of the Patristic Tradition, and the Church's vision of conciliarity which places no one bishop over all others, among other matters, according to a source familiar with the document.

While the document mainly "states the obvious" on such topics in terms that all the Local Churches can agree on, the draft document, in large part prepared by theologians of the Greek and Serbian Churches, does contain some more noteworthy passages.

In it, the current gathering is referred to as a preparatory council for a further series of councils, rather than a one-time event, noting that the absence of four Local Churches is properly speaking the failure of all involved, and that the issues preventing certain Churches from participating in the current council are to be resolved before the convening of the next, that all might attend in good conscience.

Notably, the draft document currently under consideration also recognizes as ecumenical the Photian Council of 879-880, already sometimes referred to as the Eighth Ecumenical Council, which condemned the Latin addition of the Filioque into the Nicene Creed; the hesychast councils of Constantinople held between 1341 and 1351, already sometimes collectively referred to as the Ninth Ecumenical Council, which upheld the distinction between the essence and energies of God and man's ability to commune with these energies; the 1642 Council of Iași (Jassy) which countered certain Catholic and Protestant heresies which had exercised some degree of influence on Orthodox theology; and the 1672 Council of Jerusalem which refuted Calvinism and also rejected the Filioque.

Regarding these councils, the document especially notes their statements against Western scholasticism and the imbalanced emphasis on reason as obstacles to unity, and in light of the Councils of Iași and Jerusalem, states that the Catholic and Protestant confessions in no way make up a part of the Church, while avoiding the use of the word "heretic."

The overall atmosphere at the current council is one of a favorable impression of the document, according to the source. However, it is as yet a draft document and it remains to be seen what precise message the participating bishops and Churches will release.

HT: ByzantineTexas


lannes said...

If we can believe the Russians, the Phanar has already decided things. The rest is just window dressing.

DNY said...

I'm inclined to believe the Russians -- the rules were rigged so that only the pre-approved documents could be approved, oddly with the exception of the offical "Message" which is the subject of the article. The content reported here for the draft -- a formal recognition of the Photian Synod and Palamite Councils as Ecumenical Councils (to say nothing of Jassy and Jerusalem) -- would be far better than anything I expected would come out of the council in any regard after it became clear they wouldn't actually do anything useful about "the diaspora" and sounds like the work of traditionalists, rather than what usually comes from the EP.

Lawoski said...


I am a non-Orthodox reader. Please forgive my ignorance, but what part of the draft Message is potentially huge and what makes it huge?