Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Patriarch John X's Letter to the Preparatory Committee of the Great and Holy Council

This translation is unofficial. Arabic original here.

Brother members of the preparatory committee for the Great Orthodox Council who are meeting in Chambésy,

As we prepare for Great and Holy Lent, I address you, beloved brothers, in my name and in the name of the Holy Synod of Antioch, wishing you a blessed fast and calling down blessings upon your preparatory meeting, for whose work I wish all success.

As we approach the date specified for holding the Great and Holy Council, I would like to call your attention to basic points that the Antiochian Church sees as essential for this council that our church has been awaiting for years, for which our predecessors worked hard to prepare, and which must constitute a critical point in our history. It does not come as the closing of a stage but rather it inaugurates a new stage based on cooperation, coordination, and consolidating the shared Orthodox witness in our tormented world which awaits nothing less from us than that we give it Christ, "so that it may have life, and more abundantly."

In this regard, it is our opinion that:

1) Preparatory work must be intensified and the topics must be readied as soon as possible in light of the decision of the primates of the churches delegating the preparatory committee with reviewing the texts that were decided upon by our predecessors and harmonizing them with the requirements of our time, not with reformulating them once more.

2) The issue of the diaspora must be re-examined by a preparatory committee in which bishops from  the diaspora also participate. This is in order to evaluate the work of the episcopal assemblies  and to propose canonical solutions in accordance with Orthodox theology and the requirements of the decisions of the preliminary Orthodox meeting which established these assemblies in order to "prepare the ground for a strictly canonical solution for the problem of the diaspora. This preparation will not extend beyond the convening of the future Great and Holy Council of the Orthodox Church, so that it can proceed with a canonical solution of the problem of the diaspora."

3) Work must be done to call upon the fifth preliminary meeting to decide on agreed texts before the end of this year so that the people of God can be informed of what was agreed upon, so that the primates may come to the council bearing the concerns of their churches about the issues listed on its agenda.

4) The fifth preliminary meeting must be delegated with presenting the Great Council with proposals for a common mechanism for effecting cooperation in the future between the autocephalous churches and a list of issues that require common study on a pan-Orthodox level so that work can be done to prepare them and decide upon them in a conciliar manner at a future council.

5) Likewise, we must draw your attention to the fact that one of the most important conditions required for the success of conciliar work is that the Orthodox churches-- and at their head the Ecumenical Patriarchate-- must bear their responsibility for resolving outstanding issues between the churches before the meeting of the Great Council, which cannot meet in the absence of any one autocephalous church or if there is a state of ongoing disagreement between two churches about an outstanding issue.

In closing, because your meeting will examine the issue of the contribution of the Orthodox Church to realizing peace, justice, freedom, brotherhood and love among peoples and eliminating racial and other discrimination, we hope that you will contemplate the suffering experienced by the Middle East in general and the Christians there in particular, resulting from the absence of these ideals and the aggravation of violence while the so-called civilized world looks on and continues its double standards. In this regard, a voice must be raised so that the Syrian people may live in freedom and dignity, so that the two kidnapped bishops and all those who have been kidnapped may return,  so that Lebanon and Iraq may be stable and their children grow up, and also so that the Christian presence may be preserved in this Middle East, especially in Palestine, whose people must be rooted and well-shepherded in order to establish them in their land as they suffer from the horror of occupation and the injustice of a world that has been looking on at their tragedies for decades.

May God grant you success for the good of the Orthodox Church and may He strengthen you in your work for the glory of His holy name.

Damascus, February 4, 2015
+John X
Patriarch of Antioch and All the East


Presbyter Alexander Haig said...

Has anything come out of this meeting? All the "usual" sources seem silent.

Samn! said...

I haven't seen anything either. Even the way that the Patriarchate of Antioch released this letter-- only as a photo on their official Facebook page-- was somewhat strange.