Interview with Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos on the Holy and Great Synod

Source: Mystagogy

July 5, 2016

Nafpaktian News interviewed Metropolitan Hierotheos of
Nafpaktos at the Metropolis of Nafpaktos on July 4, 2016
regarding his impressions of the Holy and Great Synod.
Below are summarized highlights from the interview for
those who don’t know Greek.

– History and the faithful will judge how this Holy and
Great Synod will be viewed.

– It was a joy for me to participate in this Great Synod
of the Church.

– There were both positives and negatives about this
Synod.

– A positive is that it circulated a fairy-tale about six
months prior. People were saying the last Synod was the
Seventh Ecumenical Synod 1200 years ago, or that it had
been a thousand years since a Synod like it. The
Encyclical of the Synod clarifies that the Synods of
Photios in the 9th century, Gregory Palamas in the 14th
century, and others later on have ‘universal
recognition’, in other words, they are Ecumenical
Synods. I was told they made up this fairy-tale to bring
media interest to this Synod. But this fairy-tale was
erased.

– A negative is that 14 Churches were not present, but 10.
Also, there were problems with the structure of the Synod
and how it was communicated to us beforehand.

– I attended as a matter of conscience to uphold what the
Holy Synod of the Church of Greece decided on the texts,
which I believed in. But I didn’t want to sit there
like a listener or a statue, but wanted to actively
participate.

– In the beginning everything was going well with the
Synod, but when discussions began on the text about the
Church and its relations with the rest of the Christian
world, there were problems. By “the rest of the
Christian world” was meant all those who in various
Synods of the Church were condemned, such as Nestorians,
Monophysites, Catholics and Protestants.

– Various Orthodox Churches proposed changes to the
section which acknowledged these other Christians as
Churches. One proposition was to call them “heterodox
Churches”, but we thought it was harsh to call them
heterodox Churches, whether or not we can call them
“Churches”, in this particular diplomatic
document, since it means heretics, so we opted for
“Christian communities and confessions.” There
were disagreements about this, until the Ecumenical
Patriarch wanted me and the Metropolitan of Pergamon to
meet and discuss this privately to come to a decision, but
we didn’t want to discuss this privately. I wanted to
represent the Church of Greece publicly. In a gathering
later on there were three proposals set forward: to make
the changes of the Church of Greece, settle for the
historical name of calling them “heterodox
Churches”, or the proposal of Cyprus. Most chose the
second. I said that if its not the first I will not sign
the document. I said this because I wanted to be faithful
to the decision of the Church of Greece, and be faithful
to my own beliefs.

– Someone told me that if I don’t sign it will appear
the Synod did not unanimously agree. I said that from now
on I will no longer participate, so it will not appear the
Synod did not unanimously agree. Thus when other issues
came up again, I determined not to speak.

– It was decided that there should be a unanimous decision
on these topics, and when there were disagreements between
Hierarchs they should find a common ground. Majority
decision was rejected because it could create nationalist
interests and divisions of the Churches.

– The future reception of this Synod is uncertain. There
are many scenarios. I hope there is an effort to bring a
unified acceptance on the matter. The Ecumenical Patriarch
appeared to be very knowledgeable and have much experience
about this, and this is needed, so there will not be
divisions and a schism in the Orthodox Church.

– I signed the document on marriage, but with reservations
regarding the details of mixed marriages.

– According to the Ecumenical Patriarch, discussions
regarding these texts have not been finalized. An
encyclical will be distributed to each Church, encouraging
gatherings of each Church on their own to discuss these
matters. Therefore, these topics will continue to be
discussed to reveal the conscience of the Church. This
will allow the Church as a whole to express how it will
view this Synod.

– This gathering gave me much joy and experience, and
allowed me to see how the Hierarchs communicate with each
other and to listen to them talk about their own local
ministries. For example, when we talked about fasting, a
representative from Africa talked about how we
shouldn’t talk about which days we can consume oil or
not, because in some places in Africa, whatever moves they
eat. This is why we decided when it comes to such details,
the local Church is to decide. However, though I left with
great experience, I was also troubled.

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