Soon there will be a great council, called ‘holy’, but this will be precisely the Eighth (Impious) Universal Council.
St Kuksha of Odessa (+ 1964)
Now that, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and to the great relief of all faithful Orthodox worldwide, the ‘Great and Holy Pan-Orthodox Council’ has been reduced to an Inter-Greek monologue with 24 Romanians, whose presence has been ordered by the US ambassador in Bucharest, what lessons can be learned?
The first lesson is that if there is to be some meeting of all the Local Churches, then it must be carried out by consulting the faithful, listening to their wishes and talking about the issues that really matter, in an Orthodox way, rather than imposing some irrelevant top-down ‘agenda’, in a secular way, like some transnational corporation.
The second lesson is therefore that hubris and Eastern Papism are dead (was it ever alive?) and have been replaced by humility and the Holy Spirit.
The third lesson is that threats and intimidation from the US State Department, or anywhere else, do not work with free Orthodox.
The fourth lesson is that all Orthodox bishops must be invited to any Council, as is the Tradition. That half of the world’s approximately 700 Orthodox bishops present would be from the Russian Orthodox Church would be just a fact of life. After all, of the world’s 216 million Orthodox, 164 million, over 75%, belong to the multinational Russian Orthodox Church.
Therefore, the fifth lesson is that if you want to be a big Church, do not fall into flag-waving phyletism (narrow nationalism) and then you will find that other nationalities will want to be with you – over 60 nationalities make up the Russian Orthodox Church. Flag-waving phyletism is for football hooligans, not for Orthodox Christians.
The only beneficial result of the Crete meeting so far is that the Patriarchate of Constantinople has promised not to interfere in the Ukraine, unlike as it sadly did in Estonia. If we can learn the above lessons as well, perhaps this whole affair will, by the Providence of God, turn out to have been positive.