Three years ago, primates and hierarchs of ten local Orthodox Churches gathered on the island of Crete for the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church, a long-awaited meeting of Orthodox bishops.
The Council took place from June 16 to June 26, 2016, at the Orthodox Academy of Crete under the chairmanship of His Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew.
The hierarchs of the Romanian Orthodox Church participated in the works of the Council under the guidance of His Beatitude Patriarch Daniel.
The Holy and Great Council of Crete did not formulate new dogmas or canons, nor did it bring about changes in the liturgical life. The hierarchs who participated in the Council addressed some of the topical issues and sought solutions to the problems that the contemporary man faces.
One year after the Council, His Beatitude Patriarch Daniel noted that ‘Despite the surprising and unfortunate absence of four Autocephalous Orthodox Churches, the Holy and Great Council of Crete was a major spiritual event of Orthodoxy, which, after decades of fluctuation between preparations and delays, enthusiasm and hesitation, debated, amended and approved significant documents for the life and mission of the Orthodox Church in the complex context of the world today.’
‘Thus, the Encyclical, the Message and the six documents approved by all the Primates of the present Churches and the overwhelming majority of the hierarchs present at the works of the Holy and Great Council of Crete, describe the major problems affecting the life and mission of the Orthodox Church today as well as its relations with the entire Christian world, the followers of other religions and an increasingly secularized society,’ Patriarch Daniel noted in his message to the participants at a Seminary held in Bucharest in June 2017 regarding the reception of the decisions of the Council of Crete.
The Romanian Patriarchate has stressed several times the fact that “the Council in Crete did not formulate new dogmas, but rather professed that the Orthodox Church is the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church of Christ”, and has constantly urged that peace and unity of the Church be retained with all responsibility.
Since 2016, some rebellious people in Romania misled certain clerics and faithful stating falsely and denigratingly that the Council of Crete has proclaimed ecumenism as dogma of faith, while some clergy uncanonically interrupted the liturgical remembrance of their bishop, thus disturbing the peace and unity of the Church by their divisive attitude.
The Holy Synod of the Romanian Orthodox Church stressed that nor the Council in Crete neither some other Orthodox Synod has declared ecumenism as a dogma of faith, in the same way as no canonical Orthodox Synod has ever declared ecumenism as being “pan-heresy”. Therefore, the accusations brought by opponents of the Council in Crete are unjust, irresponsible, and harmful for the unity of the Church.
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