What do our Orthodox readers make of this?
Twelve heads of autonomous Orthodox churches, the second-largest family of Christian churches, also agreed to hold a summit of bishops, or ecumenical council, in 2016, which will be the first in over 1,200 years.
The Istanbul talks were called to decide on the council, which the Orthodox have been preparing on and off since the 1960s, but the Ukraine crisis overshadowed their talks at the office of spiritual leader Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew.
Don’t do it!
I’m not very well informed, so this was news to me. It’s funny that googling “next Orthodox ecumenical council” yields very few results. This background article from Catholic World Report is one of the few.
Now, an ecumenical council doesn’t necessarily mean a Vatican II spiritual shipwreck. Maybe the Orthodox bishops are just going to get together and talk about jurisdictional and calendar issues that nobody but bishops cares about. Let’s see what we can learn about the agenda.
This article gives a history of the council’s preparations to date. About the goals of the council expressed after the 1976 Pre-Synodal Pan-Orthodox conference:
From all the accounts in the Orthodox press (reflecting different jurisdictional viewpoints) and from subsequent state. meets of Orthodox hierarchs, there would indeed seem to be no doubt that the leaders of Orthodox public opinion are agreed, not only on the necessity for a “Holy and Great Council,” but also on the basic outlook which the Council should express. One official Orthodox newspaper expressed this outlook quite frankly and simply: “The Great Council is needed to update the Church to meet the challenges of modern times” (Carpatho-Russian Church Messenger, Feb. 13, 1977, p. 2). Patriarch Demetrios of Constantinople, in his Christmas Encyclical for 1976, said rather the same thing in more ideological language (to be precise, in the language of the ideology of freemasonry!): “The aim of the Council is the aim of Christmas: Humanity. The humanity of today and the humanity of all times… The first Pan-Orthodox Presynodal Conference decided unanimously that our Holy Church should face vital issues concerning the holy clergy and faithful, developing its activity for Christian unity… and that in a parallel direction the Orthodox Church cooperate with all religions so that the Christmas Gospel can become a reality of peace on earth and goodwill among all humans.” Further, “interpreting this holy and generous feeling of the whole of Orthodoxy… we propose and proclaim from the Ecumenical Throne that the coming year, 1977, be a year of full religious liberty, of tolerance, of cooperation of all religions for the good of humanity, and that more especially 1977 be a year of watchfulness against the great sin of religious fanaticism… so that full religious liberty and tolerance may triumph and that religious fanaticism may disappear from the face of the world.” (Orthodox Observer, Jan. 5, 1977, pp. 1, 3.) This is a well-expressed statement of the modern credo of secular humanism; but not until our truly corrupt days was an Orthodox Patriarch preaching it!
Shortly after this Encyclical appeared, the secretary of Patriarch Demetrios, Metropolitan Bartholomaios, gave an interview to the Roman Catholic newspaper National Catholic Reporter, expressing the renovationist aims of the future Council yet more dearly: “Our aims are the same an John’s (Pope John XXIII): to update the Church and promote Christian unity… The Council will also signify the opening of the Orthodox Church to non-Christian religions, to humanity as a whole. This means a new attitude toward Islam, toward Buddhism, toward contemporary culture, toward aspirations for brotherhood free from racial discrimination… in other words, it will mark the end of twelve centuries of isolation of the Orthodox Church.”*