METROPOLITAN HILARION OF VOLOKOLAMSK SPEAKS AT THE SESSION OF THE EPISCOPAL COUNCIL OF THE RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH ON THE RESULTS OF STUDYING THE DOCUMENTS OF THE COUNCIL ON CRETE
As a continuation on the topic raised in the presentation of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia at the session of the Episcopal Council of the Russian Orthodox Church, the chairman of the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate and chairman of the Biblical-Theological Commission Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk spoke on the topic of the results of studying the documents of the Council of Crete (18th – 27th June 2016).
The Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church at its session on the 15th of July 2016 entrusted the Synodal Biblical-Theological Commission with the task of, “upon receipt of officially verified copies of the documents approved by the Council of Crete, publishing these documents and studing them, taking into account the possible responses and comments of their Graces the bishops, the religious educational institutes and schools, theologians, clerics, monks and nuns, and to present the conclusions of this thorough study to the Holy Synod” (Journal no.48).
In touching upon the status of the Council of Crete in his speech, Metropolitan Hilarion reminded listeners that from the very outset of the pre-Conciliar process the principle of consensus among all the commonly recognized Local Autocephalous Churches was to be the basis for the taking of decisions at all events in preparation for the Pan-Orthodox Council. However, by June of 2016 this consensus in relation to the convocation of the Holy and Great Council was absent for a number of reasons. In particular, the delegation of the Patriarchate of Antioch did not sign the resolutions of the gathering if the First Hierarchs of the Orthodox Churches in Constantinople of 2014, among which was the resolution on the convocation of the Council in 2016, as well as the resolutions and a number of other documents (including the Council’s agenda) of the gathering of the First Hierarchs of the Orthodox Churches in Chambésy in 2016.
The draft of the Council document on the topic of marriage was not signed at the gathering of the First Hierarchs in 2016, nor by the delegation of the Church of Georgia.
The First Hierarchs of the Russian and Georgian Churches in their speeches at the gathering of the First Hierarchs in 2016 and in the subsequent correspondence indicated that the condition for their agreement for holding the Council in June of 2016 would be the reaching of consensus on all controversial issues in the time left before the Council. This consensus was not reached.
Less than a month before the proposed date of the opening of the Council, the Holy Synods of five autocephalous Churches – of Bulgaria, Antioch, Serbia, Georgia and, finally, Russia – called for its postponement in order to overcome those obstacles that hindered their participation in the Council (later the Church of Serbia took the decision to participate in the Council). These calls were ignored. As a result, ten of the fourteen commonly recognized autocephalous Local Churches took part in the work of the Council of Crete. The fullness of the One Catholic Orthodox Church was not represented at it, and therefore the Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church at its session of the 15th of July 2016 admitted that “the Council of Crete cannot be viewed as an Ecumenical Council, while the documents adopted at it as expressing the common Orthodox consensus” (Journal no.48).
The Council of Crete adopted eight documents: “Autonomy and the Means of Its Proclamation”; “The Orthodox Diaspora”; “The Mission of the Orthodox Church in the Modern-day World”; “The Importance of Fasting and Its Observance Today”; “The Sacrament of Marriage and Obstacles to It”; “The Relationship of the Orthodox Church Towards the Rest of the Christian World”, the “Epistle of the Council” and the “Circular Epistle of the Council” (Encyclical).
The majority of these documents (with the exception of the two epistles composed directly at the Council of Crete) were prepared within the framework of the pre-Conciliar process which had been going on for decades with the active participation of the Russian Orthodox Church. After the publication of the draft documents of the Holy and Great Council, they were discussed at the level of the Local Orthodox Churches. The Russian Orthodox Church prepared and sent to all the Local Churches its proposals for amendments to the draft documents on “The Relationship of the Orthodox Church Towards the Rest of the Christian World” and “The Mission of the Orthodox Church in the Modern-day World.” These amendments were in many ways consonant with those critical comments which were expressed on the two aforementioned documents on the part of the other Local Churches and the Holy Koinotita of the Mount Athos.
As the chairman of the Synodal Biblical-Theological Commission noted, the documents adopted at Crete may be divided into three categories depending on their relationship towards drafts earlier examined by the Episcopal Council of 2016. The first of these are documents which were accepted by the Council of Crete without adding any substantial amendments. Among these are the documents “The Importance of Fasting and Its Observance Today” and “Autonomy and the Means of Its Proclamation.” To the second category belong the documents adopted by the Council with important amendments to their contents. These documents are “The Orthodox Diaspora”, “The Mission of the Orthodox Church in the Modern-day World”; “The Relationship of the Orthodox Church Towards the Rest of the Christian World” and “The Sacrament of Marriage and Obstacles to It.”
In particular an amendment was added to the document “The Orthodox Diaspora” which limits the Local Churches in obtaining “already existing titles for bishops” in the diaspora. This addition requires further discussion at a Pan-Orthodox level.
The document “The Relationship of the Orthodox Church Towards the Rest of the Christian World” incurred the most critical comments within the Orthodox milieu after its publication. There was no consensus of opinion even at the Council of Crete itself: it was not signed by twenty one bishops of the one hundred and sixty participants of the Council, including seventeen of twenty five bishops of the delegation of the Serbian Orthodox Church. Special criticism was evoked by the following formulations: the labeling in the document of non-Orthodox communities as “churches,” and the expressions “the search” and “the restoration” of the unity of Christians. The amendments proposed by the Russian Church reflected this concern but were not taken fully into account by the Council of Crete.
The document “The Sacrament of Marriage and Obstacles to It” contains a number of controversial formulations. In particular, the phrase from an earlier published draft – “The Church considers it impossible that her members can conclude a same-sex union” – was modified at the Council in the following manner: “The Church does not recognize as possible for its members to conclude civil unions, whether same –sex or whether with the opposite sex.” This formulation introduces an ambiguity into the text. The original formulation expresses the Church’s teaching on marriage more accurately. The document “The Mission of the Orthodox Church in the Modern-day World” in the form in which it was adopted at the Council of Crete contains formulations which create the impression that as a result of the incarnation of the Word of God all of the human race is already gathered in Christ, and is saved and deified, which evoked serious criticism within the Orthodox milieu. These expressions require an obligatory clarification, said Metropolitan Hilarion. – Moreover, there is an inappropriate reference to Eusebius of Caesarea, who is not only not an authoritative Father of the Church, but has been accused, and not without justification, of semi-Arianism.”
To the third category belong documents which were prepared and adopted directly at the Council. These are the “Epistle of the Council” and the “Circular Epistle of the Council” (Encyclical), which reflect the decisions taken by those autocephalous Churches which participated in the Council on a number of relevant issues. As was noted at the presentation read at the Episcopal Council of the chairman of the Synodal Biblical-Theological Commission Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, the basic ideas of these documents on the whole do not contradict the social doctrine of the Russian Orthodox Church. “At the same time, the documents contain a number of not quite successful and unclear formulations, as well as assertions which were not earlier discussed at the Pan-Orthodox level,” said the metropolitan. “These formulations and assertions require further discussion.”
“In order that the draft documents prepared during the pre-Conciliar process and examined at the Council of Crete become decisions recognized by all the Orthodox, they must be further developed and agreed upon at a Pan-Orthodox level, and then adopted by a consensus of all the Local Autocephalous Orthodox Churches,” he emphasized in his presentation.
- 02.12.2017 23:58Final session of the Bishops’ Council of the Russian Orthodox Church held with the participation of Primates and representatives of the Local Orthodox Churches
- 02.12.2017 16:50Bishops’ Council of the Russian Orthodox Church adopts its final documents
- 02.12.2017 14:00Resolutions of the Holy Bishops’ Council of the Russian Orthodox Church (29th November – 2nd December 2017)
- 02.12.2017 13:58Message by the Holy Episcopal Council to the Clergy, Monks and Nuns and All Faithful Children of the Russian Orthodox Church
- 01.12.2017 18:48Speech by His Holiness Patriarch Kirill at the Meeting of the President of Russia Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin with the Participants of the Episcopal Council of the Russian Orthodox Church
- 01.12.2017 18:38Speech by the President of Russia Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin before the Participants of the Episcopal Council of the Russian Orthodox Church
- 01.12.2017 16:30Briefing on situation around former Metropolitan Philaret of Kiev’s appeal
- 01.12.2017 12:38Bishops’ Council of the Russian Orthodox Church begins its third day
- 30.11.2017 23:56Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk comments on spreading reports on the appeal of the former Metropolitan of Kiev and All Ukraine
- 30.11.2017 23:50Bishops’ Council of the Russian Orthodox Church completes its second day work
- 30.11.2017 23:45Bishops’ Council of the Russian Orthodox Church adopts a Resolution ‘On the Appeal of the former Metropolitan Philaret of Kiev and All Ukraine’
- 30.11.2017 23:30Former Metropolitan Philaret of Kiev and All Ukraine: ‘I ask for your forgiveness in everything in which I sinned by word, deed and all my feelings’
- 30.11.2017 12:12Report by Metropolitan Onufry of Kiev and All Ukraine to the Russian Orthodox Church Bishops’ Council (November 29-December 2, 2017)
- 30.11.2017 12:08His Beatitude Metropolitan Onufry of Kiev and All Ukraine gives an address at the Bishops’ Council
- 30.11.2017 12:05Second day of the Bishops’ Council’s work
- 29.11.2017 22:30METROPOLITAN HILARION OF VOLOKOLAMSK SPEAKS AT THE SESSION OF THE EPISCOPAL COUNCIL OF THE RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH ON THE RESULTS OF STUDYING THE DOCUMENTS OF THE COUNCIL ON CRETE
- 29.11.2017 22:15HIS HOLINESS PATRIARCH KIRILL: “THE MEETING ON CUBA WAS AN IMPORTANT STEP ON THE WAY TO RESOLVING THE MORE RELEVANT ISSUES OF THE MODERN-DAY WORLD BY THE JOINT EFFORTS OF THE TWO LARGEST CHURCHES OF THE CHRISTIAN WORLD”
- 29.11.2017 21:28His Holiness notes positive dynamics in Church-state cooperation in Uzbekistan
- 29.11.2017 21:25His Holiness Patriarch Kirill expresses hope that the dialogue between the Church and Turkmenistan’s leadership will help resolve current difficulties
- 29.11.2017 21:22His Holiness specifies pressing problems of the Orthodox Church in Tajikistan
- 29.11.2017 21:20Primate of the Russian Church expresses satisfaction with the level of Church-state cooperation in Kyrgyzstan
- 29.11.2017 21:18His Holiness Patriarch Kirill: Republic of Kazakhstan has been giving an example of constructive Church-state relations for many years
- 29.11.2017 21:17His Holiness Patriarch Kirill: Dialogue of Azerbaijani authorities with Diocese of Baku offers ample opportunities for solving problems of the Orthodox
- 29.11.2017 21:16His Holiness Patriarch Kirill notes a high level dialogue between the Church and the state in Belarus
- 29.11.2017 21:14Positive tendencies in church-state relations in Moldova are noted in the report of His Holiness the Patriarch at the Bishops’ Council
- 29.11.2017 21:10His Holiness Patriarch Kirill: Peacemaking heroic deeds of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church show its true patriotism
- 29.11.2017 19:35HIS HOLINESS PATRIARCH KIRILL: “SIN OUGHT TO BE EXPOSED, BUT WE SHOULD NEVER HUMILIATE ANYONE”
- 29.11.2017 18:51HIS HOLINESS PATRIARCH KIRILL: “COMMUNICATING WITH THE MEDIA IS A CHANCE TO SPEAK ABOUT THE GOSPEL IN AN ACCESIBLE LANGUAGE ON ISSUES WHICH AFFECT TODAY’S PEOPLE”
- 29.11.2017 17:38His Holiness Patriarch Kirill told members of the Bishops’ Council about the preparation of the Catechesis of the Russian Orthodox Church
- 29.11.2017 17:34Primate of Russian Church calls to adopt more systematic approach in opposing sectarianism and neo-paganism
- 29.11.2017 17:27His Holiness Patriarch Kirill: What is sometimes forgotten in pursuit of different technologies is that mission is not a collection of methods, but practical work
- 29.11.2017 17:24His Holiness Patriarch Kirill: The main task of the Church is not to fill children’s mind with vast knowledge, but to help them enter into its life
- 29.11.2017 17:18Primate of Russian Orthodox Church: Theology should be regarded not only as a set of subjects taught at seminaries, but also as a serious science
- 29.11.2017 17:08Reorganization of the system of theological education remains priority for supreme church authorities
- 29.11.2017 17:06His Holiness Patriarch Kirill: While inviting young people to dialogue and using their language, the Church must not lose its integrity
- 29.11.2017 16:59Patriarch Kirill: For the youth it is important that Christianity is a religion of freedom, not a religion of bans
- 29.11.2017 14:33Patriarch Kirill: Signing the Act of Canonical Communion has given us joy over the unity of the faithful of the one Russian Orthodox Church
- 29.11.2017 14:32Patriarch Kirill announces statistical data on the life of the Russian Orthodox Church
- 29.11.2017 14:28Bishops’ Council given information on Patriarch ministry in inter-council period
- 29.11.2017 14:19Patriarch Kirill: Continued attempts are made to impose on the Church a life according to the rules of this world
- 29.11.2017 14:10THE FIRST HIERARCH OF THE RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH : THE MINISTRY OF THE BISHOP IS INEXTRIABLY LINKED TO THE ORTHODOX UNDERSTANDING OF CONCILIARITY
- 29.11.2017 14:07HIS HOLINESS PATRIARCH KIRILL: THE LOCAL COUNCIL OF 1917-1918 WAS TRULY AN EXTRAORDINARY PEHNOMENON IN THE HISTORY OF THE CHURCH
- 29.11.2017 14:04HIS HOLINESS PATRIARCH KIRILL: THE MAIN HERITAGE OF THE NEW MARTYRS IS THEIR LOVE OF CHRIST AND NEIGHBOUR, FOR WHOM THEY LAID DOWN THEIR LIVES
- 29.11.2017 14:01Opening of the Bishops’ Council of the Russian Orthodox Church
- 29.11.2017 13:56President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev sends greetings to participants in Bishops’ Council of the Russian Orthodox Church
- 29.11.2017 13:55President of Moldova Igor Dodon sends greetings to participants in Bishops’ Council of the Russian Orthodox Church
- 29.11.2017 13:53President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko sends greetings to participants in the Bishops’ Council of the Russian Orthodox Church
- 29.11.2017 13:50President Putin’s message of greetings to the Bishops’ Council of the Russian Orthodox Church