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Minutes of the session of the Holy Synod of the Georgian Orthodox Church held on June 10, 2016

Minutes of the session of the Holy Synod of the Georgian Orthodox Church held on June 10, 2016
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11 June 2016 year 23:43

The Holy Synod of the Georgian Orthodox Church met for a regular session on June 10, 2016, at the Patriarchate.

The session was chaired by Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia Iliya II. Metropolitan Shio of Senaki and Chkorotsku was elected as secretary of the session. Catholicos-Patriarch Iliya II outlined the existing situation in connection with the Great and Holy Council and then gave the floor to the representative of the Georgian Church to the Secretariat of the Great and Holy Council, Metropolitan Andrew of Gori and Ateni.

Metropolitan Andrew gave an account of the developments after the session of the Holy Synod of the Georgian Church on May 25, 2016, and stated:

“The goal of the convocation of the future Council is to demonstrate Orthodox unity before the world community and to express the common position of the Orthodox Church on the burning problems of today. Today however, with the pain in our hearts we have to say on the basis of the existing realities that this goal is unattainable due to the following circumstances:

1) Despite the repeated attempts, the Eucharistic communion between the Churches of Antioch and Jerusalem has not been restored to this day, although there was a hope for its restoration until very recently;

2) The Church of Antioch, in addition to the above-mentioned reasons, refused to participate in the work of the Council due to the existing serious problems with regard to the theme to be considered;

3) The Church of Antioch did not sign the 2016 Resolution of the Primates of the Churches whereby it was decided to convene the Great and Holy Council, and the date, venue and issues to be considered were determined. She did not sign either the Working Procedure of the Great and Holy Council, and for this reason this document cannot be considered approved;

4) The Bulgarian Church has refused to attend the Council and presented her position on a number of issues;

5) The Serbian Church, too, considers it problematic for her to attend the Council and asks to postpone it with the aim to undertake a more thorough preparation;

6) Despite repeated requests of the Georgian Church, the draft documents to be considered by the Great and Holy Council were issued only after the latest meeting of the Primate of Churches or beginning from February 2016. In considering the texts, the Holy Synods of Local Churches, clergy, theologians and the Orthodox people found a great deal of dogmatic, canonical and terminological inaccuracies in them;

7) Despite the 2014 Resolution of the Primates and the requirement of the Working Procedure Par. 8 whereby the Great and Holy Council shall consider only the issues adopted unanimously, the agenda included the document on “The Sacrament of Marriage”, which was not signed by our delegation for dogmatic reasons; nor was it signed by the Church of Antioch.

8) The text on “Relations of the Orthodox Church with the Rest of the Christian World” was not acceptable for the Georgian Church from the very beginning, and our delegation signed it only after the inclusion of the following remark: “The Georgian and Bulgarian Orthodox Churches withdrew from the World Council of Churches, the former in 1997 and the latter in 1998, since they formed a special opinion about the work of the World Council of Churches and for this reason they do not participate in the work of the World Council of Churches and in activities of all other inter-Christian organizations”. On May 25, the Holy Synod of the Georgian Church resolved that the above-mentioned document contains considerable ecclesiological and terminological inaccuracies and needs to be seriously reviewed. If these changes are not introduced, the Georgian Church will not sign this text.

9) the document on “Mission of the Orthodox Church in Today’s World” also requires certain changes;

10) it should be noted that the Council’s schedule and the time allocated for the discussion on the themes, as well as the uncertainty of procedures make it impossible to consider the themes by points and to introduce essential changes to them during the Great and Holy Council;

11) the established pan-Orthodox Secretariat of the Great and Holy Council is not functional since it has not been given the right to make decisions; the Georgian and other Churches have repeatedly expressed their protests against this.

The Georgian Church is well known to all for her constructiveness in the task of preparations for the Great and Holy Council. It order to hold the Council at the planned date, during the meeting of the heads of Orthodox Churches in January 2016, we removed the item on “Diptychs” from the agenda and put it off till a later consideration due to the fact that it is of great importance for us (as it determines the priority place of the Georgian Church), as well as the evaluation of dialogues held by the Orthodox Church with particular confessions.

Yet it happened so that our compliance, for which we were criticized within our own Church, has produced no results since the aims of convening the Council and its main principles have proved to be unprotected”.

His Holiness gave an opportunity to express their opinions to other hierarchs as well. A discussion took place.

Those who rose to speak were Metropolitan Job (Akiashvili) of Mroveli and Urbani, Metropolitan Dimitry (Shiolashvili) of Batumi and Kobuleti, Metropolitan Nicholas (Pachushvili) of Akhalkalaki and Kumurdo, Metropolitan Gerasim (Sharashenidze) of Zugdidi and Tsaish, Metropolitan Peter (Tsaava) of Chkondidi, Metropolitan John (Gamrekeli) of Rustavi, Metropolitan Gregory (Berbichashvili) of Poti and Khobi, Bishop Jacob (Yakobashvili) of Bodbe, Bishop Damian (Khupenia) of Samtavisi and Kaspi, Metropolitan Theodore (Chuadze) of Akhaltsikhe and Tao-Klardzheti, Archbishop Spiridon (Abuladze) of Tskhaltobo, Metropolitan David (Makharadze) of Amba-Alaverdi, Metropolitan Anthony (Bulukhia) of Vani and Bagdadi, Metropolitan Daniel (Datuashvili) of Sachkhere and Chitauri, Metropolitan Savva (Gogiberia) of Khoni and Samtredi, Bishop Savva (Intskirveli) of North America and Canada.

In spite of different opinions, the basic position was manifested in that it is possible to solve the existing problems through active work. Therefore, we together with other Churches also ask for a postponement of the Council until the general unity is achieved.

Indeed, the date of the Council’s convocation from June 17 to 26 was established at the meeting in Chambesy, but we all have found ourselves in the face of the fact that as of today the unity has not been achieved.

And since the aim of convening the Council was and remains to reveal the unanimity of the Orthodox, its conduct in such a format does not appear advisable.

The Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia put the issue of the participation of a delegation of the Georgian Church in the work of the Great and Holy Council to vote.

The Holy Synod unanimously resolved:

a) that the delegation of the Georgian Church will not participate in the Great and Holy Synod to take place from June 17 to 26 in the Island of Crete;

b) that the Holy Synod Resolution of June 10, 2016, be sent out to all the Local Orthodox Churches.

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