Why Antioch did not Sign the Decision to Convoke the Council

Source: Notes on Arab Orthodoxy

June 18, 2016


This is from a series of videos Metropolitan Siluan
(Muci) of Buenos Aires has done for the Patriarchate of
Antioch’s Facebook page in Arabic and Spanish,
explaining Antioch’s position with regard to the
council on Crete. The Spanish original can be seen


In order for the council to exist, it is necessary first
of all to convoke the council, to have an order of the
day, an agenda for the council. Who is able to do this?
The meeting of the primates of the Orthodox churches. A
meeting was held in Geneva in January 2016, when the
primates of all the Orthodox churches met to see if it is
possible to convoke the council. The text of that
meeting’s decision was not signed by the Patriarchate
of Antioch because we had two fundamental issues to which
we objected, with reason.

The first issue is that the council’s internal rules
needed an essential clarification. We would like, as a
patriarchate, to ensure that the guiding theme of the
council, the unity of the Orthodox churches, the
manifestation of this unity, be made concrete within the
text of the council’s rules, in three aspects: First
of all, in the convocation of all the churches, in the
participation of all the churches, and in the unanimity of
the decisions that are taken– that were going to be
taken– by the council on the part of the fourteen
Orthodox churches. No one should be absent from these
three moments: from the convocation, from participation,
and from taking decisions unanimously. This is what we
would like to be inscribed within the rules. It was not
done in this way.

The other objection that we had was within the text of the
decision. It is that in the agenda there is one topic out
of the six listed that does not present the required
unanimity of all the churches. One of the documents did
not have the signature of two of the fourteen churches.
Moreover, the text of the decision of he primates talks
about the diaspora with an assessment that was very brief,
for which we would like to do a more precise, timelier job
on the issue of the diaspora. Therefore, the
representatives of our patriarchate at that meeting were
unable to sign the text of the decision.

This decision is very fundamental. In a technical and
legal sense, it is the decision that allows the council to
be convoked, that allows one to know what is agenda to be
treated and, finally, how the council’s proceedings
will be organized during the days in which it will take

In the text of the decision taken by the Holy Synod of
Antioch on June 6, there were other issues that we would
like to be a a part of the council’s agenda, such as
for example the topic of unifying the date of Pascha, the
topic of the ecclesiastical calendar of the Orthodox
Church. This topic, unfortunately, is not part of the
council’s agenda. Another important topic, which had
been discussed in the preparatory stage but was not
realized, is to evaluate the topic of dialogues between
Christians, between the Christian churches– the Orthodox
Church, the Roman Catholic Church, the Protestant
churches– in order to determine what state these
dialogues are in. Such an assessment would to some degree
allow an approach to relations with other Christians in
the document included on the council’s agenda.

The Church of Antioch had as a paramount objective that
unanimity be explicit, be clear. Why this insistence by
the Orthodox Church on the issue of the convocation,
participation, and unanimity in the decisions? Because
there is a golden rule that, from the beginning of the
work on the idea of the council, for more than fifty
years, has been respected. That is to say, we want to
manifest the unity of the Orthodox, the unity of all the
Orthodox churches in certain aspects of our life. In
faith, we are one, but we needed to bear witness to unity
of other aspects of what we are living today. It is in
order to preserve this criterion that was followed from
the beginning that the Church of Antioch wanted, on the
one hand, to insist on the theme of unanimity in those
three points– the convocation, participation, and making
decisions– and, on the other hand, to be able to include
in the council’s agenda topics that are important for
us in our pastoral practice. For us, this is of paramount

These are essentially the reasons the Holy Synod wanted to
transmit to the other churches and which prevented signing
the decision taken by the primates of the Orthodox
primates in Geneva this past January.

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