Saturday, February 29, 2020

Jad Ganem: A Turning-Point?

Arabic original here.

A Turning-Point?

The fraternal meeting in Amman, which hosted several primates of local Orthodox churches or their representatives and which was called and hosted by the Patriarch of Jerusalem with the goal of "the resumption of dialogue and the strengthening of unity between brothers within the Orthodox communion" constitutes an expression of "anxiety about the danger of looming schism for the Orthodox Church."

The communique from this meeting contained, in addition to thanks to the King of Jordan and the Patriarch of Jerusalem for hosting the meeting:

-- A declaration that this meeting is for strengthening the bonds between brothers and between local churches, to spread the bonds of peace in Christ between them, and to strengthen the unity of the Orthodox churches and preparation for dialogue and the achievement of reconciliation.

-- An expression of the participants' agreement that important Orthodox issues, including the granting of autocephaly to churches, must take place after pan-Orthodox dialogue and through the unity and general consensus of the churches.

-- The view that the ecclesiastical issue in Ukraine requires pan-Orthodox dialogue in order to acheive healing and reconciliation.

-- Emphasis that the issue of Northern Macedonia must be treated through dialogue with the Church of Serbia with pan-Orthodox support.

-- Urging the competent authorities in Montenegro to respect the Church's right to property ownership, especially as regards churches.

-- An agreement to hold another fraternal meeting before the end of the year in order to strengthen bonds and effectuate dialogue.

-- Hope that the Patriarch of Constantinople, who enjoys primacy of honor, will attend this fraternal meeting of primates of the local Orthodox churches.

It is clear from the above that this meting constituted a critical juncture and an advanced stage of resolving the crisis from which the Orthodox Church is now suffering, since:

-- It consecrates the right of the primates of the local Orthodox churches to meet on the basis of an invitation from any one of them when the need arises and it treated them as equals by using a round table for the meeting.

-- It unequivocally affirmed the primacy of honor enjoyed by the Patriarch of Constantinople in the Orthodox world, refuting all the theories saying that this patriarch enjoys a "primacy without equal."

-- It revived the rules that were agreed upon during pan-Orthodox work on the granting autocephaly, which require the agreement of all the Orthodox churches, blocking attempts to act unilaterally on this important issue and stressing the mother church's role in the matter.

Those attending the meeting in Amman managed to pull the breaks on Constantinople's ambitions and demonstrated to the world that the Orthodox Church is governed collectively, with no place in it for unilateral action or monopolizing decision-making. It reexamined the rules that govern relations between the Orthodox family of churches, which had been subject to violation in order to create a new Orthodox world.

For this reason there remains hope that this meeting will not become a factor for further fragmentation and disagreement and that it will build upon its achievements in the future to avoid schism and realize the hoped-for reconciliation which many of those who did not attend its proceedings desire.

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