Holy and Great Council of 2016

While it is very possible it will postponed, a pan-Orthodox council is scheduled for 2016. By way of introducing this church council, the website of the Hellenic College Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology has this to say:

The fourteen Autocephalous Orthodox Churches will gather at the Orthodox Academy on Crete June 16-27, 2016, for the long-anticipated Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church. This … has been in the planning stages for several decades and will mark the first time that the heads and representative bishops of all fourteen Autocephalous Orthodox Churches will come together for such a Council.

Sounds like a pan-Orthodox council, does it not? The problem is, it is not. There are a number of Orthodox jurisdictions that take the stand that the Orthodox churches represented in the above council have themselves broken away from the true faith.

Yes, this council has the numbers, but the situation is structurally the same as in the Catholic and Protestant churches. The mainstream, numerically and financially dominant churches stand in the majority. But a minority of conservative churches have refused to go along with their modernizations and culturally accommodating ways. This minority has broken fellowship with them, claiming that the mainstream churches have left the faith.

The article continues:

Dr. Lewis Patsavos, Professor of Canon Law Emeritus, … emphasized the extraordinary significance of this gathering in that there is no precedent in the history of Christendom for so many ancient Churches claiming apostolic succession to meet in this way.

The Ecumenical Patriarchate has had the special responsibility of coordinating and guiding the Pan-Orthodox process leading to the Council. His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew … will chair the meetings on Crete. … Theological statements on ten topics have been prepared by bishops and theologians, most of which have been agreed upon, with some modification, offering hope of a new era in relations among the fourteen branches of Orthodoxy.

There they go again; now touting “the extraordinary significance” of their gathering together, and at the end of the quote claiming themselves to be “the” fourteen branches of Orthodoxy.

Interestingly, a more lengthy article from First Things, says that,

there are at least two issues up for discussion at the Great Council that encompass universal and unparalleled authority. The first is the way in which the Orthodox Churches will respond to religious fundamentalism and fanaticism. A united and unequivocal response to extremist and subversive elements and factions—sometimes within circles influenced by rigid or reactionary monastics—would be a compelling and committed emphasis on the “royal way” of discernment and moderation adopted by the classic teachers of the early church. Will we see a condemnation of separatist groups and a new commitment to ecumenical openness?

What? This paragraph may seem obscure to us because of its holy elevation above our lowly carnal souls. On the other hand, it may just be contradictory. We are asked to believe that suppressing “extremist and subversive” (what they mean is conservative) factions and monks is the “royal way” of discernment and moderation. Suppression is moderation, so kill for peace if you are truly holy.

This would be funny if it weren’t for the existence of a social agenda to paint conservative Christianity with an “extremist” brush and sweep it in with other reactionary extremist groups that actually are violent. The time will come when true Christians will be considered a dangerous element in society that needs to be eradicated by force of law. The churches of the Great Council seem to have attached themselves somehow to this push, although they may not know it.