Istanbul (AsiaNews) - The 2nd round pan-Orthodox meeting opens today in Chemin de Chambésy in Switzerland, in preparation for the first pan-Orthodox Synod of the modern era. The first round last June, dealt with the issue of the Orthodox Diaspora, namely the management and jurisdiction of the Orthodox Churches founded by the Diaspora. This question has caused friction between Constantinople and Moscow, especially after the collapse of communist regimes and the subsequent massive migration of Eastern peoples outside their national borders. Until then, the Orthodox flock was under the jurisdiction of their national church, and the Diaspora under that of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, according to the current canons of the Eastern Church.
The first meeting in June decided on the creation of Episcopal conferences in the countries of the Diaspora, who will refer to Constantinople; in today's meeting - which will last one week - the issue of autonomy and the autocephalous nature of the Orthodox Churches will be discussed . In short the debate will centre of the cannons to define and accept the autonomy and autocephalous status of the new Churches within the spectrum of the Orthodox world. The meeting aims to resolve issues that have emerged in the aftermath of the collapse of the Soviet Union and the consequent emergence of new nation states, whose churches have sought independence from the Patriarchate of Moscow, demanding so a return to the status they had before the birth of' USSR.
In a statement released yesterday the desire to end anomalies that have arisen over the course of time, largely due to historical junctures and the consequent pastoral needs of Orthodox flock, was expressed. The deep desire of Bartholomew I to proceed quickly in order to convene the first major pan-Orthodox Synod of the modern era was also noted.
In a homily he delivered on the feast of St. Andrew, November 30th in Istanbul, Bartholomew I focused on relations between the Orthodox churches and the Church of Rome. According to experts, the Patriarch has sent significant and important signals to the interested parties.
Regarding relations between the Orthodox Churches, Bartholomew said that "the role of Constantinople is one established by the canons of the Ecumenical Synods. It lies in the diaconate, having the responsibility for the coordination and expression of unanimity of the Orthodox Churches”. "Our primary goal - he continued - is the unity of Orthodoxy, because only then can there be witnesses to the truth of the Gospel in a modern world beset by many problems of many kinds. In this work of diaconate, the Church of Constantinople is forced to operate with great difficulty, because of the current context well known to all, but [it] finds solidarity in the Church of Old Rome, first of all, to whom we turn with loving thoughts at this time. "
The patriarch did not spare criticism of those in the Orthodox world who are against dialogue with the Church of Rome, saying that dialogue alone is the only way to peace and unity. "The peaceful adjustment of differences in relations between Christians - continued Bartholomew - does not mean detachment from the truth. Truth is not afraid of dialogue, but instead uses dialogue as a means to gain acceptance from those who have reservations. Arrogance and fanaticism causes the hardening of positions taken and entrenchment can only lead to a dead end. "
"Besides - concluded the Ecumenical Patriarch - dispassionate study without preconditions, will help us to understand the structure of the universal Church that was united the 1st millennium, and will also help us to understand our mistakes in the 2nd millennium."
Meanwhile in recent days very important news has emerged. At the suggestion of Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan, there is the possibility of granting citizenship to the metropolitans of the Turkish Diaspora. This fact satisfies the ecumenical will of Bartholomew and unlocks the door to the possibility that in future a bishop who now resides outside of Turkey may be elected Ecumenical Patriarch. According to current rules, only those who have Turkish citizenship have the right to be elected to the patriarchal throne. Until now 20 metropolitans of the Diaspora have already applied for Turkish citizenship. In the eventual granting of Turkish citizenship to metropolitans of the Diaspora diplomatic circles see the first proof of the sincere will of the Erdogan government to be open to minorities. In fact, it must also be remembered that in mid-December the European Union will examine progress made by Ankara in its march towards Europe.