June 24, 2016
The official and reverend representative of the secretariat of the conference on Crete (from June 17 to 26, 2016) set forth on June 21, 2016, as part of the official press conference of the second day of the work of the conference, that the Patriarchate of Antioch "during the discussions that took place in January 2016 in Chambesy, ...raised no disagreement and did not object at all to the convening of the ‘Holy and Great Synod,’ and these words are in the minutes of that Synaxis...”
For this reason, then, we are interested in giving a reply to such irresponsible statements and to clear up, to the Christ-bearing fullness of the Church, the official position of the ancient and apostolic Patriarchate of Antioch.
First: We wonder how a member of the secretariat of the conference of Crete, on his own account, is permitted to speak on behalf of the Church of Antioch, resulting in his own expression of this position relevant to Antioch’s non-participation in the conference of Crete.
Second: The view is not correct, which he expressed concerning the Patriarchate of Antioch not signing the three documents at the Synaxis of Chambesy in January 2016, as he says that "the reasons for not signing those documents were not due to any disagreement with the content of the texts in question. It consisted simply, and only, of a protest over the fact that the question of Qatar has not been settled and resolved..." This is incorrect.
Third: His statement that "the decision of convening the Synod was unanimously adopted" is not correct.
The charges of the reverend representative in question which have no relation to the truth surprise us. Let us emphasize that he himself was present at the Synaxis of the Primates in Chambesy and he was a witness to the clear protest and dissent of the delegates of the Patriarchate of Antioch, not for "personal reasons" as has been maintained, but rather because of the content of the text of the "Rules of the Great Council." He forgot all the more that the delegation of Antioch also in three plenary sessions expressed the necessity of introducing into the text an additional paragraph concerning the necessity of the participation of the 14 Autocephalous Churches in the Great Synod, and the delegation stressed verbatim: "This is the position of the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Antioch! This is the position of the most holy Church of Antioch!" And the delegation added this: "We do not sign and no consensus exists!"
All this is found, word for word, in the minutes of the Synaxis and of this there is no room for doubt.
It is also clear that, in the three texts which the Church of Antioch refused to sign, Her representative wrote these precise words: "The position of the Church of Antioch is in opposition to this text and for this reason we do not add our signature."
The fact that the Church of Antioch continued to participate in the preparatory work after the Assembly in January and that it translated the texts of the synod into Arabic and that it sent the names of the members of its delegation to the conference in Crete, etc., is yet another proof of the sincere effort on the side of the Patriarchate of Antioch toward success in pan-Orthodox cooperation and the finding of solutions for issues which are being disputed by the Churches.
For further clarifications, the communiqué of the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Antioch on 6 June 2016 clearly states the official position of the Patriarchate of Antioch.
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The Romfea.gr news agency has published the response of the Metropolitan of Great Britain, Silouan, of the Patriarchate of Antioch, to the official spokesmen of the Council in Crete.
"The press representatives of the Synod of Churches in Crete insist on distorting the truth concerning the position of the Patriarchate of Antioch with respect to the Council," the statement begins.
Metropolitan Silouan goes on to say that the repeated claims that the Patriarch of Antioch signed the decisions made by the Primates of the Chambesy meeting in January are false and misleading and have been decisively answered with the publication of the relevant documents. Moreover, he writes, not only did the Patriarchate of Antioch not sign, it's representatives publicly declared that it will not sign on account of their inconsistency with the (other) decisions of the meeting.
"It is our duty to state unequivocally that the Church of Antioch signed neither the decisions of Chambesy in 2016 nor the text outlining the rules and organization of the Council, nor the text on marriage and its impediments."
The participation of the Patriarchate of Antioch in the preparatory meetings was "kat' oikonomian" [according to economy—O.C.] always with the expectation and hope that its concerns would be met and the obstacles would be removed.