Monday, February 24, 2020

Jad Ganem: Antioch's Position on the Amman Meeting

Arabic original here.

Antioch's Position on the Amman Meeting
On December 28, 2019 the Antiochian Orthodox Media Center issued a communique from the Antiochian Church following the visit of His Eminence Metropolitan Christophoros of Amman, who was sent by Patriarch Theophilos III of Jerusalem to visit Patriarch John X in Damascus and deliver a letter to him about holding a meeting of the primates of the Orthodox Churches in Amman with the goal of "preserving Orthodox unity," which has been damaged by the Ukrainian crisis.
This communique states that the Patriarch of Antioch "welcomed this initiative and reaffirmed the firm position of the Antiochian Church announced by the Holy Antiochian Synod, which calls for the necessity of a meeting (synaxis) of the heads of the local Orthodox Churches, so that all Orthodox Churches collaborate in solving Orthodox issues."

It is noteworthy that when the Church of Antioch received this invitation:

-- It accepted it and welcomed it, contrary to the positions claiming that the right to convoke such meetings belongs exclusively to the Patriarch of Constantinople.

-- It stressed the position it defended during the preparations for the Council of Crete, which holds that pan-Orthodox action requires inviting all the local Orthodox churches to take part in it, acceptance by these churches to participate, and adopting all decisions by complete consensus among those presence so as not to lead to fragmentation.

-- It implied that it respects the Patriarch of Constantinople's primacy and his role in presiding over pan-Orthodox meetings.

Consequently, one may deduce from this very carefully-formulated communique that the Antiochian Church did not agree to attend the Amman meeting in the absence of any of the local churches.
When combined with what was said in the press release from the Patriarchate of Jerusalem regarding constructive dialogue between the two patriarchates about the Qatar issue, leading to "concrete understandings" for resolving the disagreement, this communique perhaps indicates that the Patriarchate of Antioch made an effort to find a solution to its disagreement with the Patriarchate of Jerusalem during the period following this invitation in order to provide the "fraternal meeting" with every opportunity for success, with the aim of "inaugurating dialogue, achieving reconciliation and preserving the unity of Orthodoxy. And perhaps by this it intended not to be the reason for a loss of the necessary Orthodox unanimity as a foundation for solving the dangerous crisis that is being experienced by the family of Orthodox churches.

Based on the above, after several local Orthodox churches have made the decision not to participate in the fraternal meeting called by the Patriarch of Jerusalem, it can be deduced that the Church of Antioch's declining to participate in the Amman meeting because of the lack a unanimous Orthodox consensus about it is something natural, even as it continues to work in the future with the Patriarchate of Jerusalem to complete the "negotiations to arrive at a final agreement about the Qatar issue," with the goal of creating the appropriate conditions for preserving Orthodox unity.

It is therefore unambiguously clear that Antioch's firm position on the one hand strives to resolve the disagreement with the Patriarchate of Jerusalem through the existing bilateral dialogue and on the other hand avoids entering into the politics of competing poles and insists on the agreed foundation for pan-Orthodox action, which remains the sole guarantor of Orthodox unity.

1 comment:

Will said...

The situation is most complex for Antioch given the Jerusalem situation, but I am disappointed.

How will a consensus be achieved if the churches refuse to even gather to discuss the matter? Not every synaxis has to have the gravity of an Ecumenical Council—just get together and talk about it! Let the Holy Spirit work, like the Apostles did in the Apostolic Council.

To insist (as several churches have) that a meeting must have a pre-determined end seems more like the stuff of worldly politics than the Church.