Τετάρτη, 21 Δεκεμβρίου 2016

PROF. EMERITUS PETROS VASSILIADIS, AN ASSESSMENT OF THE PANORTHODOX COUNCIL OF CRETE. AN INTERVIEW TO SERGEI CHAPNIN

 From personal page on Facebook of Prof. Emer. Petros Vassiliadis
AN ASSESSMENT OF THE PANORTHODOX COUNCIL OF CRETE Sergei Chapnin has posted today a segment of the 3rd issue of the Russian electronic journal Лодка (Boat), which includes a limited part of the interviews he had taken immediately after the conclusion of the Holy and Great Council.
I was one of those interviewed (together with my friends Bishop Job Getcha, Cyril Hovorun, Paul Gavrilyuk,Tamara Grdzelidze, and two other priests). Since some of my friends do not read Russian, and there was a selective presentation of the answers by the editors of the journal, I am giving them below in full:
Question: How do you assess the results of the Pan-Orthodox Council in general? Do they coincide with your expectations?
Vassiliadis: The results of the Pan-Orthodox Council are both positive and negative. Positive, because after so many centuries the Orthodox managed to fulfill the most essential requirements of their identity: conciliarity, without which the Orthodox cease to be a “Church” remaining an almost heretical Christian sect. Negative, because the Council took into consideration only the concerns of the most conservative segment of her constituency, which understands Orthodoxy as a Christian (Protestant-like) “confession” of the past. It was organized in a strictly bureaucratic way, with complete absence of the Church’s most vibrant constituency, the theologians. The Ecumenical Patriarchate made a desperate attempt to consult them, but at the time all the documents were almost finalized. Therefore, my expectations were only partially met.
Question: How do you feel about the documents of the Council? Do you agree that they provide an adequate response to the challenges of the modern world? Please provide specific examples.
Vassiliadis: As I said, I would wish the unanimously decided documents to be more prophetic, in order to meet the expectations of the modern world. Nevertheless, the missiological and ecclesiological documents are quite satisfactory, though obviously promulgated to compromise the various trends within Orthodoxy. The ones on fasting, marriage, diaspora and autonomy are either insignificant, or lacking a theology of grace, thus remaining within the traditional natural law.
Question: How do you assess the role of your local Church in the preparation process and during the Council: was it constructive? What specific contributions were made? If there are examples, please provide.
Vassiliadis: My local Church, the Church of Greece – though spiritually I proudly belong to the Ecumenical Patriarchate – had played an ambivalent role. The academy, the vast majority of the theologians, and the clergy, and a silent majority of the hierarchs, have not only supported the convocation of the Holy and Great Synod, they also contributed in various ways to the improvement of the agreed documents. The disappointment came from Permanent Holy Synod, and the Synod of all Hierarchs. With their very conservative decision they gave rise and excuses to the strongly anti-ecumenical Churches (Bulgarian and Georgian, which both still refuse to participate in all official multilateral and bilateral dialogues) to pull out of the Synod. Nevertheless, their final stance in Crete have saved our honour.
Question: In the last days before the Council the refusal four churches questioned the very possibility of the Council, however it was held. Do you personally think it was anyway Pan-Orthodox and why?
Vssiliadis: With the exception of the unavoidable bureaucratic process the Council was organized in an absolutely perfect way, without excluding a single canonically recognized Autocephalous Orthodox Church. Of course, I would wish a provision to have been made that all other Orthodox communities with unsettled canonical status (especially the OCA, but also the various Ukranian, the so-called Macedonian, the Abhazian etc. communities), to have been invited with a right to speak, but not vote. But even so, the Council in my view was a truly “Panorthodox”, the validity of which was not affected by the refusal of some Churches to attend. And the decisions of the Council are binding to all of them, if they wish to remain within the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.
Question: How do you assess the status of Pan-Orthodox cooperation after the Council? Some speak of a crisis of conciliarity. Do you agree with this assessment? If so, what can be the way out of the crisis?
Vassiliadis: Some people were disappointed by the pull-out of the four Churches, and for that reason believe that the status of Pan-Orthodox cooperation has been negative. However, Bulgaria and Georgia, for so many years absent from all multilateral and bilateral dialogues, they were expected to behave that way. And the same is true with Antioch, but for political reasons. With its Patriarchate so-closely allied with the Assad regime and Russia, while Qatar supporting the Syrian rebels, nationalistic rather than theological reasons forced them to refuse to co-operate with the rest of the Orthodox Churches. The Russian ambitions and aspirations are well known. Therefore, if one can speak of a crisis of conciliarity this existed prior to, not after, the convocation of the Holy and Great Council. And the only way to remedy it is to abandon the centuries-long negative identity of the Orthodox, developed around the anti-Catholic refusal of the traditional and canonical necessity of a universal primacy.
Question: How can we shape the Pan-Orthodox cooperation today? What kind of questions can and should be dealt with together?
Vassiliadis: The only way to start with is to set up an initiative from the bottom. An international forum of theologians from different jurisdictions could work together on some pressing issues, like the profound meaning of consensus, the conciliarity at all levels of the ecclesiastical life, with lay participation, including women, etc. Given the Orthodox Church’s tradition of deaconesses, a canonically still valid institution of female participation in the diaconal sacramental ministry, as well as the pressing demands from the society at large, conciliarity in the 3rd millennium is inconceivable without a wider participation. The pre-conciliar experience gained during the last months with exceptionally high quality theological reflections by lay theologians can and will affect the future Pan-orthodox process of the Church.