22 July 2016, 15:01
Non-participation by some Churches in Pan-Orthodox Council was caused by external attempt to cause division in Orthodox world - Lavrov
Village of Dvoriki (Vladimir Region), July 22, Interfax - The differences on the Pan-Orthodox Council were caused by an attempt to cause division in the Orthodox world from the outside, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said.
"Several Churches, including the Russian Orthodox Church, did not participate in the recent Pan-Orthodox Council because the final documents were not approved," Lavrov said at the young people's forum Territory of Meanings.
The real reason why some Churches did not participate was an attempt to cause division from the outside, he said.
"The real reason is that there are many people who want to cause division outside the Orthodox world, primarily using the crisis in Ukraine and the anti-Russian rhetoric to harm the positions of the Russian Orthodox Church," the minister said.
The Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church said earlier that the Council which took place in Crete on June 20-25 cannot be regarded as pan-Orthodox, and the documents it approved as expressing a pan-Orthodox consensus.
It was decided that the documents, which were discussed by the Council in Crete, should be handed over to the Synodal Biblical and Theological Commission, which will study them and present its conclusions with the Synod.
Bulgarian, Antiochian, Georgian, Serbian and Russian Churches called for postponing the Council in order to settle the disagreements and finalize its draft documents. However, the Constantinople Patriarchate has rejected the initiative and insisted on it be held within the set timeframe. As a result, the Churches, who represent the minority of the episcopate, clergy and believers of the Orthodox world, participated in the forum.
If the Council in the current situation still goes ahead, "it will not be pan-Orthodox in nature and will have no authority," head of the Moscow Patriarchate's Department for External Church Relations Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, told Interfax-Religion at the time.
The attendees discussed six topics: the Orthodox Church's relations with the rest of the Christian world, fasting, marriage, the church's mission in modern world, ministering to the needs of Orthodox diaspora communities, and ways of proclaiming the autonomy of Orthodox Churches. They also approved a message.