Will the 2016 Inter-Orthodox Council be Cancelled?

The Inter-Orthodox Council which the Patriarchate of Constantinople has so long wanted and which has been pencilled in for 2016 has always been in doubt. Firstly, there has been the question of the agenda. What is there to talk about, when all the dogmatic issues were long ago resolved? The agenda of mainly rather secular issues proposed, seemingly a throwback to the 1960s, has never really been shared with, let alone had the support or enthusiasm of, the faithful and appears to have been externally imposed by the forces which control that Patriarchate. Secondly, there have been several jurisdictional disputes potentially preventing such a Council taking place.

For example, there has been the question of the recognition of the much-disputed autocephaly of the small group known as the Orthodox Church in America (OCA), which was founded during the first Cold War and which is on shared territory with other Orthodox, the question of a group set up by the Patriarchate of Constantinople in Estonia creating two Churches on the same territory, the question of continued politically-motivated dissidence in Russian Church life in the Diaspora with defections to Constantinople, as well as the dispute between the Patriarchates of Antioch and Jerusalem regarding jurisdiction in Qatar. Now there are new issues, which also seem to be linked to political adventurism.

In recent days the US-controlled Patriarchate of Constantinople has set up an alternative ‘Synod’ in the Czech Lands and Slovakia, in effect creating a division, similar to those after the establishment of Constantinople jurisdictions in the Diaspora after 1917 and more recently in Estonia. The decision to establish the new Synod was made after a meeting of two Constantinople bishops in Vienna on 6 February. In the church in Brno in Moravia on 22 February the 89-year old Archbishop Symeon, together with the retired Bishop Tikhon, consecrated a third bishop outside the Synod of the Local Church, effectively establishing a new Synod.

Almost at the same time the US-appointed Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople received a delegation of Ukrainians from Canada. He promised to help various schismatic groups in the Ukraine, which like Estonia is also on the canonical territory of the Russian Orthodox Church, unite under his authority. This is on condition that the US-appointed President Poroshenko in Kiev asks his Patriarchate to do so. The Patriarch promised ‘flexibility’, suggesting canonical vagueness. There is a clear political influence here, as the powers that be in the Western world continue to try to divide the Orthodox Church through its weakest point, the Patriarchate of Constantinople.

This has been controlled by the US since 1948, when it deposed the legitimate Patriarch Maximos, who was exiled to Switzerland, and appointed its own controversial Greek-American candidate. These latest measures have been seen as a new part of the US-inspired war of sanctions in revenge for Russian support for the Ukrainians fighting against the US-installed junta in Kiev which appeared after the overthrow of the democratic government there. This is surely a tactical error on the part of the US. It means that the Orthodox world will be able to ignore the now isolated Patriarchate of Constantinople. Like the EU, it has become just another unfree pawn in the new Cold War which the US has begun, from North Africa to the Middle East and from Central Asia to the Caucasus and Eastern Europe.

If Constantinople were politically isolated, the rest of the Orthodox Church would be able to hold a Council (just as it did in 1948 in Moscow), putting aside the modernist human rights-style agenda for the 2016 Council, dictated to the Church by external secular forces. These are the same forces as those that dictated the agenda of Vatican II, protestantizing and secularizing the Roman Catholic world fifty years ago. A future Council of free Local Orthodox Churches, perhaps to be held at the restored New Jerusalem Monastery outside Moscow, could have a relevant agenda to discuss. This could for example be:

1. A statement on the need for the canonical freedom of the Church from the interference of all political authorities and thus a return by all to the Orthodox calendar and typicon. 2. A call to repentance to Orthodox who have lapsed into nationalism, modernism, sectarianism and other forms of Western secularism. 3. The reassertion of the Christian values which stand at the roots of the Western world, but which after a millennial process of degeneration it has finally wholly rejected in the last 25 years. 4. A call to the rest of the Non-Orthodox world to return to traditional values from secularism and consumerist materialism for the sake of the survival of humanity. 5. A statement on the concerted need to preach the Gospel in its Orthodox context throughout the Non-Orthodox world.

This seems to be the moment of decision for nominal Orthodox. Do they believe in the Gospel commandment of Christ that we are to baptize all peoples in the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, or are they mere petty nationalists? Are they on the side of the Church, or are they prepared to support the West in its Antichristic project, which involves emptying the Middle East of all its native Christians and trying to destroy the canonical Orthodox Church in the Ukraine? Are they loyal to the multinational Orthodox Christian ideal of Holy Rus/Romaiosini, or are they loyal to provincial nationalism and the powers of this world? Are they loyal to Christ and His Church, or to the Godless Western grasp for global hegemony? Answers need to be given.