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4. 27.11

Ecumenical Patriarch Calls For Summit Of Some Orthodox Churches

The Ecumenical Patriarch announced on April 21st his intention to convene a summit ("Synaxis") of  some Primates of the Orthodox Churches. According to reports the Patriarch sent a letter to the Patriarchs of Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem, as well as the Primate of the Church of Cyprus inviting them to gather to examine "the unstable political situation" in the Middle East, as well as address a series of "general questions concerning inter-Orthodox relations".The meeting is to take take place on August 31 -September 1, 2011at the Phanar, the seat of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Istanbul. Each of the primates will be accompanied by one or two bishops.

In explaining the move the letter of invitation said that it is in "the canonical tradition of the Orthodox Church to convene when the need arises the primates of the oldest church authorities" - namely the patriarchates of the so-called "Pentarchy" of the first millennium - Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, Jerusalem (although no longer Rome.) The ancient Church of Cyprus, which was never a member of the "pentarchy" is to be included, however, because of its "apostolic foundation". Such meetings, the Patriarch stressed "...are no guarantee of future decisions to be taken at pan-Orthodox meetings" and are "not intended to exclude other local Orthodox Churches." Rather, the meeting will seek only to find  "common, preliminary positions on particular important issues."  This is seen as a reference to the profound disagreement of the Romanian and Russian Churches with the Greek Churches at the last session of the Inter-Orthodox Preparatory Committee held in February in Chambésy near Geneva. The meeting ended after only three days. These disagreements now appear to block the continuation of Constantinople's preparatory process for its long-desired Council.

-Mark Stokoe



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