Eleven of the fourteen leaders of the Local Orthodox Churches have now concluded their meeting outside Geneva in preparation for a major meeting, which may be Pan-Orthodox, that is, may include all of the fourteen leaders. This will now be held from 16 to 27 June 2016 at the Orthodox Academy in Khania in Crete.
Of the original ten items on the agenda for the future meeting, there has been agreement on only five. These, the draft texts of which are to be published shortly, are: The Mission of the Orthodox Church in the Contemporary World; Autonomy and the Way in which it is Proclaimed; The Importance of Fasting and its Observance Today; The Relations of the Orthodox Church with the rest of the Christian World; The Orthodox Diaspora. There was no agreement on the draft text for the sixth item, ‘The Sacrament of Marriage and Impediments to it’, which was rejected by the Georgian and Antiochian Churches. As regards the other four items, on the proclamation of autocephaly, the diptychs, the calendar and ecumenism, these seem to have been abandoned for lack of agreement.
Having seen the Russian draft texts for the first four of the approved items of the agenda, we believe that where they are not controversial, they are at best expressions of the obvious, at worst spiritually flat and mostly expressed in the secular language of administrators and bureaucrats, and not in the theological language of the Holy Fathers and of the dogmas of the Seven Universal Councils. Where, however, they are controversial, especially the draft text on ‘The Relations of the Orthodox Church with the rest of the Christian World’, they will cause disturbing division. This will lead even more in the Orthodox world which believes in the Church of the Seven Councils, which defined the Faith for all time and made any ‘Eighth Council’ completely unnecessary, to call for this June meeting to be cancelled before it causes open schism.
We fear that this January meeting has opened up a dangerous path. Surely, amid all today’s secular isms, including Darwinism, the foundation stone of Communism and Nazism and their ‘survival of the fittest’ genocides, the Orthodox people need to hear of the dogma of salvation in the Church (instead of ‘ecumenism’), of the teaching on the Fall of Adam and how sin has polluted human consciousness and the consequent need for repentance, of the need for strict fasting in a world suffering from obesity and chemically-polluted food, and of the Church’s teachings on the Last Times. Instead, we are hearing the trite, secular and humanistic language of diplomats and compromisers about ‘human dignity’, discrimination’ and ‘ecology’.
Let any future bishops’ meeting first confirm the decisions of the Local Council of 879 against the filioque heresy and the Local Council of 1351 against those who opposed the teachings on the Holy Spirit of St Gregory Palamas and the Local Council of 1948 (held in Moscow) against ecumenism. Quite rightly, no ‘Pan-Orthodox Council’ was held when the hierarchy of the Russian Church, and others, was enslaved by an atheist government. And in the same way, you cannot hold a free Council, when its chairman was installed by the government of a country which preaches ‘globalism’, that is, secularist control over the whole world, which is profoundly and actively hostile to the Church and Her Civilization, is responsible for evil genocides around the world, including among Orthodox in Syria and the Ukraine, and promotes worldwide perversion. How long before some decide to hold an ‘Alternative Council?’ Here is the risk.