Balamand, June 1, 2016
The Patriarchate of Antioch has received with much distress and astonishment the decision of the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, dated Tuesday, March 31st, 2016, calling for the setting up of a committee of representatives from both the Patriarchates of Antioch and Jerusalem, under the coordinating responsibility of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. This committee is to begin meeting right after the Holy and Great Council, for the purpose of finding a solution acceptable to both parties for the current conflict.
The Church of Antioch painfully recognizes, through this aforementioned decision, that all the efforts undertaken in the past three years, from the time of the aggression of the Jerusalem Patriarchate on the canonical jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Antioch in Qatar, and all the peaceful initiatives that the Antiochian Patriarchate has initiated through the Ecumenical Patriarchate in order to find a final solution to the aggression, have failed.
It is more painful to see that all the efforts were intensified on the eve of the Holy and Great Council, which had as a purpose to find a permanent and an ecclesiastical solution for the aforementioned aggression. These efforts have been specifically made before the beginning of the Holy and Great Council, so that this Council would be an expression of Orthodox Unity. This unity is best manifested in the Divine Liturgy on the day of Pentecost, with the concelebration of all the Orthodox Autocephalous Churches. This act of concelebrating is the right way to deal with the issues pertaining to the Orthodox Church worldwide, and to express unanimity about them.
This new development, which is the call to postpone solving the issue of the aggression till after the Holy and Great Council meeting, invalidates the purpose of the Holy and Great Council, being as the “Expression of Orthodox Unity.” The indifference of the Jerusalem Patriarchate towards several Antiochian peaceful initiatives threatens the convocation of the Great and Holy Council at its specified meeting date, a matter which the Antiochian Church has repeatedly warned about.
Today, we call upon all the Autocephalous Orthodox Churches to work diligently in order to preserve Orthodox Unity, facing all what threatens this unity. Our Holy Synod has kept its meetings open, and will meet in the next few days in order to study the special developments related to the Holy and Great Council, and take the proper decisions about them. As we await the coming of Pentecost, we pray together, and hope from the Holy Spirit, to inspire the Church and Her leaders, that they may find the right way to witness for the unity which the Lord called us to fulfill, today more than ever before.