A video of Patriarch Kirill’s address to the synaxis may now be viewed on YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LumwJEqmmkg Even if you cannot understand Russian, the 15-minute video is very interesting in that it also includes views of the opening of synaxis and many views of the various delegates. The Patriarch’s remarks are summarized in Russian at https://mospat.ru/ru/2016/01/22/news127085/. This summary has been translated into English at http://www.events.orthodoxengland.org.uk/an-inffective-methodology-for-a-pan-orthodox-council/ . Patriarch Kirill spends considerable time discussing the situation in Ukraine (Metropolitan Onufry, the head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church – MP, is seated next to him). Patriarch Kirill stresses the need for further preparation so that the pan-Orthodox Council will truly be a demonstration of Orthodox unity. He states that draft documents should be made available for public discussion. Viewing this summary, it is clear, to me at least, that the Moscow Patriarchate will probably be taking the position that the Council tentatively planned for Pentecost should be delayed. Although there are arguments for and against the publication of draft documents, it is fairly clear that a public discussion of the issues presented by these drafts is a process that cannot be completed between now and Pentecost.
I found especially interesting the remarks at the synaxis by Patriarch Daniel of Romania. http://basilica.ro/patriarhul-romaniei-un-eveniment-istoric-important-pentru-a-dezvolta-practica-sinodalitatii-la-nivel-panortodox-111589.html (again use the Google translation tool) Patriarch Daniel’s view appears to be quite different from the view of Patriarch Kirill. Patriarch Daniel states: ”The Ecumenical Patriarch’s introductory report shows that the final preparation of the Holy and Great Orthodox Council is a difficult task, but not impossible if we ask God’s help and work with great responsibility. The world has already been informed of the meeting of the Holy and Great Orthodox Council in June this year, 2016. On the other hand, there are some theologians, Orthodox monks and lay people who believe that a Pan-Orthodox Synod is not necessary at this time or that it is not sufficiently prepared (although there has been more than 50 years of preparing).” However, Patriarch Daniel goes even further. He states that although synodality has been the rule within the Local Orthodox Churches, it “must” also be the rule for the universal Orthodox Church. From his perspective, pan-Orthodox Councils should be held every five, seven, or ten years. They should be held “to discuss issues for which a consensus does not now exist or new subjects related to current issues in church life and society.” Contrary to some conservatives, Patriarch Daniel states that holding a pan-Orthodox Council is not “an eschatological events (preceding the end of the world).”
Certain remarks made by Romanian Metropolitan Nifon, a delegate at the synaxis, have been reported at http://basilica.ro/a-doua-zi-a-sinaxei-Intaistatatorilor-de-biserici-ortodoxe-111596.html . The Metropolitan has stated to Romanian Radio Trinitas that the synaxis has appointed a committee of seven persons to draft rules for the pan-Orthodox Council. The mission of the committee is to begin its work immediately and to present the draft rules within two days to the synaxis for its approval. This certainly indicates that the synaxis has not given up hope that the pan-Orthodox Council will be held in June.
The complete text of the Ecumenical Patriarch’s opening address in Greek to the synaxis is now available at http://www.ec-patr.org/docdisplay.php?lang=gr&id=2116&tla=gr . I have not yet found an English translation of the complete text.
The Greek website, Amen.gr, which is very supportive of the Ecumenical Patriarch, posted today in Greek an article by Dr. Nicolas Kazarian, a lecturer at the Saint-Serge Institute in Paris. The English-language article was posted two days earlier by the Divinity School of the University of Chicago. http://us6.campaign-archive2.com/?u=6b2c705bf61d6edb1d5e0549d&id=4fed084a07&e=dcd64f6600 The title of the article is: Fate of Orthodox Christianity’s Great and Holy Council Hangs in the Balance. The first sentence reads: During the meeting of Christian Orthodox Primates (heads of local Orthodox churches), which begins today in Switzerland, the participants will show the world whether the unity of the Orthodox Church is more important than their particular agendas.
The address by the Patriarch of Jerusalem to the synaxis is available at http://www.jp-newsgate.net/gr/2016/01/22/31821#more-31821. A report by the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (MP) can be read at http://news.church.ua/2016/01/23/shvejcariya-predstoyatel-upc-vzyav-uchast-u-roboti-pershogo-dnya-zibrannya-pervoijerarxiv-pomisnix-pravoslavnix-cerkov/ .
Peter Anderson, Seattle USA