OCL Endorsement of Bartholomewʼs Call for a Great and Holy Council by Orthodox Leadership
Chicago.- Orthodox Christian Laity described Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomewʼs recent call for a Great and Holy Council of the Orthodox Church, and its subsequent endorsement by the Primates of all Orthodox Churches, as a development of great significance for the unity of the Church and its spiritual mission in the contemporary world.
“For the Orthodox faithful throughout the world, Patriarch Bartholomewʼs clarion call for a Great and Holy Council and its endorsement by his brother Orthodox leaders represents the fulfillment of years of fervent hopes and prayers,” declared Peter J. Petkas, President of Orthodox Christian Laity.
“The assembled leaders of world Orthodoxy took a bold and blessed step toward unity with the historic agreement they signed in Istanbul last month sending a clear signal that they recognize that Orthodox unity is essential if the church is to witness its authentic Christian faith in todayʼs society,” Petkas continued.
Since its inception Orthodox Christian Laity has been the leading advocate in America for A Great and Holy Council actively promoting the idea in significant and concrete ways. The theme of its Twentieth Annual Meeting last year was devoted to the need for the calling of a Great and Holy Council. The discussions presented by distinguished theologians and hierarchs have been compiled and are in the process of being published.
OCLʼs 1993 landmark publication, Project for Orthodox Renewal, addressed the issue of Orthodox Unity in a most comprehensive essay edited by the late Dr. Andrew Kopan.
Later that year, an OCL delegation met with His All Holiness at the Phanar where plans for a Great and Holy Council were discussed—this delegation was among the first of the lay groups to meet with Ecumenical Patriarch during the early days of his ministry.
Mr. Petkas said that, “members of this OCL delegation recalled that Patriarch Bartholomew was at the time unequivocal in his intention to convene a Great and Holy Council and for this reason we are now most encouraged that he has renewed that commitment with urgency and firm direction. We stand, as in the past, ready to assist this crucial endeavor in any appropriate manner.”
He added that members of OCL and all concerned Orthodox Christians in America were particularly encouraged by statements that continuing divisions facing the Orthodox Church in the Western Hemisphere and elsewhere would finally be addressed.
“Their stated intent to deal in their own words with the “So-called Diaspora” and ethnic divisions coupled with Patriarch Bartholomewʼs proposal that a 1993 Pan-Orthodox agreement for resolving these conditions be implemented, hopefully demonstrates that the Churchʼs leadership is serious about facing the vexing and uncanonical divisions which undermine the Churchʼs standing and mission,” Petkas stated.
Mr. Petkas described the Patriarchʼs address to the Synaxis as a most thoughtful statement of theological and ecclesiastical importance clearly outlining the challenges facing Orthodoxy.