The sixth Episcopal Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of Australia, New Zealand and Oceania held its working session Thursday, 8 December 2016.
The session took place at the office of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese in Sydney. According to the Rules of Operation of Episcopal Assemblies in the Orthodox Diaspora, the session was chaired by the representative of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, His Eminence Archbishop Stylianos.
The following canonical bishops of the Orthodox Dioceses in Australia and New Zealand attended:
- Archbishop Stylianos (Ecumenical Patriarchate);
- Archbishop Paul (Patriarchate of Antioch);
- Bishop George of Canberra (Patriarchate of Moscow),
- Bishop Siluan (Serbian Patriarchate);
- Bishop Mihail (Romanian Patriarchate);
- Metropolitan Amfilochius (Ecumenical Patriarchate);
- Bishop Ezechiel, Assistant Bishop to Archbishop Stylianos (Ecumenical Patriarchate);
- Bishop Seraphim of Apollonia, Assistant Bishop to Archbishop Stylianos (Ecumenical Patriarchate);
- Bishop Nikandros of Dorilaion, Assistant Bishop to Archbishop Stylianos (Ecumenical Patriarchate);
- Bishop Iakovos of Miletoupolis, Assistant Bishop to Archbishop Stylianos (Ecumenical Patriarchate).
In his opening speech, the president of the Episcopal Assembly referred to this year’s 25th anniversary of election and enthronement of His Holiness Bartholomew as Archbishop of Constantinople – New Rome and Ecumenical Patriarch. He also welcomed as member of the Episcopal Assembly the new Serbian Bishop, His Grace Silouan.
Archbishop Stylianos stressed the importance of the Holy and Great Council, which took place in Crete this June. He went on saying that after many centuries, with the effort of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and of the Primates of the Autocephalous Orthodox Churches, and with the participation of numerous hierarchs, the unity of the Orthodox Church was proclaimed to the world. Furthermore, it was given the opportunity to discuss the difficult conditions in which the Orthodox Church must profess herself, in a secularised and challenging world. The Orthodox Church is called to answer these challenges and guide the well-believing people.
After the working session, a communique was issued in which the bishops outlined the problems that the Orthodox Church in Australia and New Zealand is confronting:
- Sacrality of marriage between man and woman must be manifested in the life of the couple, blessed by God through the Sacrament of Marriage;
- Curriculum based on Christian principles, by the help of which a child can be brought up;
- Canonicity of clerics in Australia;
- University Orthodox Chaplains;
- Report on Orthodox Chaplains in Hospitals.
The bishops have denounced any form of violence that is done in the name of religion. They also appealed to everyone to express and cultivate mutual respect, regardless of race, language, religion or personal beliefs.