On March 9, 2014, the feast day of the Triumph of Orthodoxy, the first Sunday of Great Lent, the Primates of the Local Orthodox Churches, having gathered in Istanbul to discuss matters pertaining to the convening of a Pan-Orthodox Council, celebrated Divine Liturgy at the Cathedral of Great Martyr George the Victory-Bearer in Phanar, the residence of the Patriarch of Constantinople.
His Holiness Patriarch Irinej of Serbia performed matins preceding the Liturgy.
Divine Liturgy was then celebrated by His Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople; His Beatitude Pope Theodore III, Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa; His Beatitude Patriarch Theophilos III of the Holy City of Jerusalem and All Palestine; His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia; His Holiness Catholicos-Patriarch Ilia II; His Holiness Patriarch Irinej of Serbia; His Beatitude Patriarch Daniil of Romania; His Holiness Patriarch Neofit of Bulgaria; His Beatitude Archbishop Chrysostomos II of New Justiniana and All Cyprus; His Beatitude Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens and All Greece; His Beatitude Archbishop Anastasios of Tirana and All Albania, and His Beatitude Metropolitan Savva of Warsaw and All Poland.
Hierarchs of the Local Orthodox churches, clergymen and a multitude of worshipers prayed at the service. Among them were King Simeon II of Bulgaria, Mr Andrey Karlov, Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador of the Russian Federation to the Republic of Turkey, as well as members of the Russian diplomatic corps.
During divine services, prayers were sung in Greek, Church Slavonic, Georgian, Serbian, Arabic, Romanian and Albanian.
After the Gospel reading, the epistle of the Primates of the Orthodox Churches was read from the ambo.
The decisions of the meeting, which convened from March 6-9, 2014, were signed by Patriarch Bartholomew, Patriarch Theodore, Patriarch Theophilos, Patriarch Kyrill, Catholicos-Patriarch Ilia, Patriarch Irinej, Patriarch Daniil, Patriarch Neofit, Archbishop Ieronymos, Archbishop Anastasios and Metropolitan Savva.
The participants adopted a series of decisions on matters pertaining to the organization of the forthcoming Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church.
A consensus in principle was reached on the method of adoption of all decisions at the Council, as well as on various phases of its organization.
Presiding over the Pan-Orthodox Council will be the Ecumenical Patriarch and his brethren, the Primates of the Local Autocephalous Churches, who will be seated to the right and left. Each autocephalous Church will be represented by its primate and no more than 24 bishops in all, while Churches which have fewer than 24 bishops will be represented by its primate and all their bishops. Every autocephalous Church will have one vote.
The participating primates and representatives of the Local Orthodox Churches decided to form a special Inter-Orthodox Commission consisting of one bishop and one advisor from each autocephalous Church. The commission will begin its work in September 2014, and will conclude its work before Holy Pascha in 2015. Among its tasks will be reviewing a series of documents prepared by the Pre-Conciliar process, and also editing as needed the texts of documents already adopted relating to the agenda of the Holy and Great Council, such as “The Calendar Question,” “Obstacles to Matrimony” and “The Meaning of Lent and Contemporary Observance.”
It was decided to convene a Pre-Council Pan-Orthodox Conference in the first half of 2015 with the aim of adopting, in addition to the other reviewed materials, a document titled “Autonomy in the Orthodox Church and the Order of Its Proclamation,” a draft version of which was composed by the Inter-Orthodox Preparatory Committee in December 2009.
Two other topics discussed during the preparatory period, “Autocephaly in the Orthodox Church and the Order of Its Proclamation” and “Diptychs,” will be subject to further review within the framework of the Preparatory Commission. In case a consensus is reached on these two topics, they will be submitted for review by the Pan-Orthodox Pre-Conciliar Conference in 2015, and then by the Pan-Orthodox Council.
The Holy and Great Pan-Orthodox Church Council will be convened by the Ecumenical Patriarch in Constantinople in 2016, barring unforeseen circumstances.
In addition, the present meeting carried out decisions on the alteration of geographical boundaries of the bishops’ conferences in North and South America: in Canada, there is to be a separate conference , and the bishops of other nations, excluding the United States, should be combined in a single conference of South America. In this way, the continents will host three separate conferences: Canada, the United States, and Latin America.
At the end of Divine Liturgy, a litany was performed for all the reposed primates and all those who labored for the benefit of Holy Orthodoxy.
Department of External Church Relations/Patriarchia.ru