Voices from Russia

Friday, 25 December 2015

EP and MP at Loggerheads Over Notional all-Orthodox Sobor Proposed for Istanbul

00 Metropolitan Rastislav Gont of Prešov PCČKS. 13.01.14

Metropolitan Rastislav Gont of Prešov of the PCČZS/PCČKS (Orthodox Church of Czechia and Slovakia)… the MP insists on the seating of this Church and the OCA… the EP is balking… I wonder why…


The preparations for the all-Orthodox Sobor proposed for 2016 encountered difficulties. On Thursday, V R Legoida, the head of the MP Synodal Information Department (SINFO), told reporters:

Today, the [MP Holy Synod] expressed concern that there are disagreements in the correspondence between the EP and MP on the impeding preparations for upcoming all-Orthodox Sobor.

In October, Metropolitan Ilarion Alfeyev of Volokolamsk, the head of the MP Synodal Department for External Church Relations (OVTsS), told Interfax-Religion that a meeting is due in January in Istanbul of representatives of the Local Orthodox Churches dedicated to preparing for the proposed all-Orthodox Sobor. However, he pointed up that preparations for the event are far from complete, and even the starting date is still up in the air. There hasn’t been an Ecumenical Council for over a thousand years; the preparations for the proposed Sobor have been underway for more than half a century.

24 December 2015



On Friday, Metropolitan Ilarion Alfeyev of Volokolamsk, the head of the MP Synodal Department for External Church Relations (OVTsS) expressed doubts about the notional all-Orthodox Sobor proposed for Istanbul:

It’s doubtful whether the we can even hold an all-Orthodox Sobor when some Orthodox Churches are in a state of unresolved conflict, and some Orthodox Churches don’t recognise the First Hierarch of the Church of Czechia and Slovakia, not to mention the highly volatile general political situation in the world. However, the MP has always participated and continues to take an active part in preparations for the Sobor, despite the obvious difficulties in preparing for such an event. As for the specific timing of the meeting, I think that it’s premature to talk about it yet.

In 2014, the Orthodox Church decided to convene an all-Orthodox Sobor in 2016 in Istanbul, but it also added a caveat… “if not prevented by any unseen contingency”. Metropolitan Ilarion pointed up:

They thought that they’d be able to edit… and in some cases, completely rewrite… a significant part of the draft documents on the Sobor, many of which had become outdated since their adoption 30 years ago. The work on revising these documents moved very slowly. Consequently, of the eight position papers supposed to bring the Sobor up-to-date, we only agreed on three; work on the rest isn’t yet complete. So far, the Local Churches have no common understanding of what rules the all-Orthodox Sobor will follow, and what should be its agenda. A special commission formed to discuss these issues had to recess without agreement as there was no consensus. Many questions about preparations for the Sobor remain unanswered, even though Patriarch Kirill repeatedly raised them over the past year in his letters to Patriarch Bartholomew.

25 December 2015




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