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Pan-Orthodox Council Sets Sail on Even Keel

23 June 2016

Victor Gaetan

Opening the first Holy and Great Council of Eastern Orthodox Churches in more than 1,100 years, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople led a packed auditorium at the Orthodox Academy of Crete in singing an apolytikion for Pentecost:  

Blessed are you, Christ our God, who revealed the fishermen to be most wise by sending down to them the Holy Spirit, and so through them catching the whole world in a net: Lover of mankind, glory to you!

Having raised their sights to Heaven — and locating this event in the Orthodox Church’s long history of councils without full attendance — the mood in Crete is decidedly more positive than it was during the two week lead up when four of 14 self-governing (“autocephalous”) Churches dropped out.

“The absence of these four Churches is not linked with disagreements over the topics or documents prepared together, but rather with inner problems they have been experiencing recently,” explained Archbishop Job of Telmessos at a press briefing on opening day.

The bishop continued, “And the existence of inner problems within the Church makes the convocation of the Holy and Great Council even more urgent.”

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