The decision follows the meeting of Orthodox Church leaders in Chambésy. The Synod was initially planned for Istanbul. The latter had become 'inconvenient' for the Russians after their row with Turkey, after the downing a Russian jet on the border with Syria.
Moscow (AsiaNews) – The pan-Orthodox Synod will be held in June 2016 in Crete, not Istanbul, and all the leaders of the autocephalous Churches will participate.
The Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill made the announcement at the end of his visit to Chambésy, Switzerland, where Orthodox spiritual leaders met to discuss preparations for the much-anticipated event.
"The Council will not take place in Istanbul; the position of the Russian Church was accepted. We had proposed Mount Athos, Rhodes and other places, but the Patriarchate of Constantinople proposed Crete,” Kirill is quoted as saying by Interfax. "We accepted it", he added.
The Greek island is under the jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Constantinople and was proposed because "it offers the most favorable conditions. There are rooms for 400 people, and Crete is a venue for many different conferences, including theological ones," the Russian primate explained.
Aleksandr Volkov, spokesman for the Moscow Patriarchate, confirmed to Interfax that the Council would start on June 19, the day of the Orthodox Pentecost.
The pan-Orthodox council has not convened for over a thousand years, and preparations for its implementation have been ongoing for decades.
In 2014, Orthodox spiritual leaders decided to hold the event in 2016 at St. Irene, Constantinople’s ancient cathedral, where the second ecumenical council of the undivided Church took place (in 553), and “unless there are impediments due to unforeseen circumstances".
Now, for the Russian delegation, the Turkish city has become "inconvenient' due to the rising tensions between Moscow and Ankara, after a Russian jet was downed on the border with Syria.