2007-12-03 13:51:00

All-Orthodox meetings for settling disputes are not held regularly to the ‘shame of Orthodox world’ – the Russian Church

Moscow, December 3, Interfax – The Russian Orthodox Church considers it necessary to conduct regular all-Orthodox meetings to settle controversial issues arising between local Churches and to work out the common notion of a canonical territory.

‘It is a shame of the Orthodox world that we are not able to settle our problems through a fraternal dialogue’, Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin, the deputy head of the Moscow Patriarchate Department for External Church Relations said at a church scientific conference in Moscow.

He regretted that the sessions of the World Council of Churches with its mainly Protestant makeup often appeared the only platform where representatives of the Orthodox Churches could have a dialogue.

Meanwhile, the Constantinople Patriarchate had interpreted canonical rulings to state that ‘it had an exclusive right to convene all-Orthodox sessions’, Fr. Vsevolod reminded. However, ‘mechanisms of inter-Orthodox consultations had not been functioning for several decades’, he underlined.

‘Those, who spoke of their exceptional right to call all-Orthodox sessions, have actually blocked this process when it came down to an attempt to clear up the rights of equally significant local Churches’, the representative of the Moscow Patriarchate said.

According to him, the developing crisis in inter-Orthodox relations which are currently in the degree of ‘a grave and chronicle decease fraught with lethal risk’ results in appearance of parallel dioceses ‘not only in diaspora, but also on the canonical territories of certain Churches’.

‘Thus it is of vital importance that we return to the apostolic ideal when bishops respect each other’s pastoral responsibilities and the basis for it is territorial division and sometimes, depending on the conditions in diaspora, division of local Churches in jurisdictions’, Fr. Vsevolod noted.

He believes that ‘it is within Orthodox context’ that ‘the principle of canonical territory should be realized anew as it relates to this context in a maximum possible degree because we speak about one Church’.