Showing posts with label Pan-Orthodox Council. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Pan-Orthodox Council. Show all posts

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Pan-Orthodox Council is Endangered? Conflict in Moscow and with Constantinople

Since the Synaxis of 2014, an Agreed Meeting of a Holy and General
Council of Orthodoxy for 2016 is Endangered 
(Moscow) The Roman Curia has officially been a permanent construction site since March 2013. Currently, it's primarily the communication area that's being reorganized. While Rome is being restructured, there was a veritable earthquake in the communication sector of the Moscow Patriarchate.
In Rome the Pontifical Council for Social Communications headed by Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli Curia is pending a change in leadership. Msgr. Celli will be 75 in a few months. His former deputy, the Irish Curial Bishop Paul Tighe has already been appoinnted by Pope Francis in mid-December to the Assistant Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Culture  under the direction of Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi. The American journalist Greg Burke is the new Vice-Vatican spokesman and deputy of Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi.
In Moscow, at the same time, the two most famous heads of communication  were shown the door.  On December 24, approximately two weeks before  Orthodox Christmas, the Moscow Patriarchate issued the press release no. 98. At the end of a meeting of the Holy Synod, the merger of two previously separate departments of the Synod was announced. The Department for Relations between Church and Society and the Information Department were merged.
The newly created institution is called Department of the Church, Society and the Media. It is led by layman, Vladimir Legoyda who already previously headed the information department and is chief editor of the Orthodox journal "Thomas."
However, Archpriest Vsevolod Tsaplin was shown the door. Since 2009 he was head of the Department for Relations between Church and Society. In this capacity, the Archimandrite was regarded as the main spokesman for the Russian Orthodox Church.

Critics of too much dependence of the Church on state power

A few days before him, Sergei Tschapnin, the chief editor of the official press organ of the Moscow Patriarch had already been dismissed. The reason for the dismissal was that  the American website in First Things published an article by him in November, "A Church of Empire". The title could be translated as "state church". Tschapnin expressed himself  very critically of the close association of the Russian Church to the state power.
In an interview with the Catholic News Service Asianews Tschapnin repeated that the main bone of contention justifying Russian military intervention in Syria and Ukraine is that it is a "holy war" for God..
The Orthodox churches are known for the fact that internal conflicts are carried out with rigor. In the current power struggle are Tsaplin and Tschapnin against Patriarch Kirill I and the "foreign minister" of the Moscow Patriarchate, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk. Tsaplin complained in his criticism, of authoritarian repression of synodality, which is so characteristic of the Orthodox Church, by the patriarch and the "foreign minister".


Dismiss Santander Archimandrite Chaplin, one of the most famous voices of Russian Orthodoxy
The Dismissed Santander Archimandrate Tsaplin,
one of the most famous voices of Russian Orthodoxy

Against criticism: cooperation with western stakeholders

Tschapnin repeated his criticism at the Moscow Carnegie Center. Therein his critics see the evidence that the two dismissed workers are collaborating in the new East-West conflict between Moscow and Washington with western stakeholders. The Patriarchate did not justify the dismissal order, but in the reading of subordinate bodies, the dismissal is presented as "self-protection" by the Russian Orthodox Church against a kind of fifth column. Established in 1994, the Carnegie Center in Moscow is an offshoot of the US foreign policy think tank Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. The Russian government accuses comparable Western institutions of interference in internal Russian affairs.

Points of contention between Moscow and Constantinople endanger convening a Pan Orthodox Council

At the same meeting of the Holy Synod on 24 December,  Metropolitan Hilarion reported that it had come to a time to break the Pan-Orthodox meeting in mid-December in Athens. In the Greek capital, representatives of all recognized Orthodox churches gathered for the preparation of a Pan-Orthodox council. In a dispute over the rules according to which the  Council should take place.  Farthest apart are the positions of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople and the Patriarchate of Moscow. Constantinople claims primacy, while the Moscow does not recognize in this form. [Emphasis ours]
The patriarchs and heads of the Orthodox churches had agreed to in March 2014 after many years, to convene a Holy and Great Council of the whole Orthodoxy in Constantinople  in 2016.  The Pan-Orthodox Council is to be held in the Cathedral of St. Irene in Istanbul. The official reason for convening is the situation of Christians in the Middle East and the Ukraine issue. It is also about the recognition of a Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

Equality of all Orthodox Churches has blocked the convocation off a Council for 50 years 

The convening of a Pan-Orthodox Council has been attempted  already for half a century, but failed repeatedly owing to inter-Orthodox  conflicts. In the absence of a generally recognized authority with ​​the outbreak of new conflicts always brought all previous attempts to naught. Central to this is the dispute over the question of what powers the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople is entitled to as Primus inter pares. Since all Orthodox Churches are equal and decisions can be adopted unanimously, they block each other from a common approach.
Without an agreement in the current procedural issue,  there will be no Pan-Orthodox Council. Observers already expect   a postponement of the date by a few years, as has been the case for more than half a century.
Text: Giuseppe Nardi 
Image: Asianews
Trans: Tancred