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Metropolitan Anthony of Western and Central Europe on why the Bulgarian Orthodox Church is not taking part in the Holy and Great Council

{ include file="./partials/authors.html" } БНР Новини
Photo: bg-patriarshia.bg

A Holy and Great Council of Orthodox churches is taking place on the island of Crete June 19 - 27. Unfortunately, without the participation of the churches of Bulgaria, Russia, Georgia and Antioch. Why did the Bulgarian Orthodox church decide not to take part in the Orthodox Council, an event the churches have been waiting for for over 1,000 years?

We put this question to Metropolitan Anthony of Western and Central Europe:

“Being one of the churches actively involved in the preparations for the Holy and Great Council on the island of Crete, the Bulgarian Orthodox Church (BOC) had expected to be clear on the regulations of the Council sessions. The BOC has stated its views on the documents endorsed through the years on which there was supposed to be debate. But that was not regulated. I am sure you will agree that no document signed at a Council session in the 1970s, when preparatory sessions were being held, could be valid now because the spirit of the times has changed. The BOC complies with the understanding of Orthodox Christians who cherish the purity of Holy Orthodoxy and the preservation of the Orthodox faith as the church has handed it down to us. The view that nothing can be altered in the documents adopted, the lack of any discussion during which we could uphold the position of the Holy Synod - that is what prompted us to make this decision not to take part in the Council. We think that it would only have been attendance, not participation, with no prospect of changing these documents, for which we have every reason.”

Theologians and lecturers from the Faculty of Theology have been reproaching the Holy Synod for this decision, saying that the Bulgarian Orthodox Church is increasingly under the sway of the Russian Orthodox Church:

“There are as many opinions as there are people. The BOC has stated its reasons and the fact that some of our views are the same as the views of the Russian, the Georgian or Antiochian church can in no way be construed as meaning there is any interference in the sovereignty of any of the Orthodox churches. On the contrary, when opinions coincide, there is good reason for that. This is not a mere whim. As you will agree, a forum like this has not taken place in 13 centuries, so the responsibility of each of the churches is enormous. That is our view and with the decision of the Holy Synod we are demonstrating that we do not want the Council not to take place at all, we just want it postponed. We think that a Council as important as this for Orthodoxy as a whole must only be held when it has been prepared thoroughly, and most of all, that all issues pertaining to the life of the Orthodox Church must be discussed. And wherever there are impediments they must be eliminated by general consensus and in light of the better functioning of the church. So, we shall under no circumstances agree to be accused that by not taking part we are trying to sabotage and prevent the long-awaited forum from taking place. Quite the contrary - there has not been a Council in 13 centuries, so what's stopping us from postponing it by one year so it can be prepared properly? Because out of 100 questions, only 6 will be debated. What about the remaining 94, when are we going to debate them? In another 100 years?”

Does this Holy and Great Council have the powers to punish the churches not attending?

“The Council is in its rights to make its decisions as far as they can be objective. But I think our non-participation is well motivated and I would like to ask the question: A Council that is incomplete, can its decisions be legitimate? So, I am hoping above all to see a highly responsible attitude by the participants who could work to the benefit of Holy Orthodoxy,” says in conclusion His Grace, Metropolitan Anthony of Western and Central Europe.


English version: Milena Daynova


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