Tuesday, July 1, 2014

an-Nahar: Antiochan Conference Makes 80 Reccomendations to the Holy Synod

Arabic original here.

The Work of the Antiochian Conference Ends with 80 Recommendations

by Pierre Atallah

The work of Antiochian Unity Conference called by Greek Orthodox Patriarch John X closed with an abundance of reccomandations. According to participants at the retreats on Balamand Hill, they number more than 80 and constitute a remarkable achievement in terms of seeking the opinions of Antiochian Orthodox laypeople spread from Orthodox areas of Lebanon, Syria, Iraq to many dioceses in Europe and the Americas.

This "abundance" represents an achievement for the Antiochian Orthodox Church that, despite the difficult circumstances facing its flocks in Syria and Iraq, was able to seek the opinion of a wide and diverse group that nevertheless is unified by "love for the Church and work for her sake." In this regard, a great responsibility falls upon the Holy Synod of Antioch that will meet tomorrow to examine and discuss these recommendations, decide about their various aspects and their bold approach that touches on many fundamental issues that are of much concern for Orthodox laypeople and are points of vigorous discussion whenever two Orthodox meet. Despite the fact that the Holy Synod holds the right to veto any of the suggestions sent to them by the Balamand conference, any rejection-- if some of the suggestions are rejected-- will need clear and systematic justifications in response to these basic proposals, since they were discussed at length in working groups during the conference and were in the working papers and proposals that were sent to Patriarch John and his team, leaving no subject unaddressed.

Those who participated in formulating the recommendations at various levels state that the importance of "the work of the Orthodox people at Balamand is that they laid out a forward-looking vision for the revival of the Church and something resembling a road map to how things should be, relying on the overwhelming participation from all dioceses throughout the world." They explain, each individually, that the most prominent thing achieved was the recommendations, especially in the "social presence committee", which took into account the tremendous geopolitical transformations happening in the Middle East which concern the existence of the Antiochian Orthodox at their very core, especially as regards dealing with the prolonged violence to which they are being subjected to the point of eradication and extermination. Also raised was the issue of revisiting parish councils and their role in managing endowments, a very important topic of discussion. Many mechanisms were proposed, the most prominent being the establishment of a central authority to oversee the management of basic social, health and educational foundations. This was the subject of considerable debate, due to the enormity of the issue.

Among the basic recommendations made was the establishment of a patriarchal fund so that that outstanding students from the community can study in its institutions of higher learning as well as similar recommendations in the social sphere, to be decided by the Holy Synod in order to make the Orthodox Church "more loving and more humanitarian", as one of the bishops said, describing the conference as a historically unprecedented polling of the Antiochian Orthodox people. However, the most important thing sources said was that Patriarch John X is very serious about the conference and sees it as a significant step in the Church's path.


Jason Gagnon said...

Will the list of 80 recommendation be made public? Was there any indication when the synod will vote for a new metropolitan for North America?

Samn! said...

Presumably the Synod's report will include what it decides about various recommendations. As for North America, I'm under the impression that they will discuss it tomorrow, but there's no guarantee that they'll actually elect a new metropolitan then.