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Holy and Great Council of 2016 Presentation

The fourteen Autocephalous Orthodox Churches will gather at the Orthodox Academy on Crete June 16-27, 2016, for the long-anticipated Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church. This historic event, expressing the unity of the Orthodox Church and its witness to the Gospel of Christ, has been in the planning stages for several decades and will mark the first time that the heads and representative bishops of all fourteen Autocephalous Orthodox Churches will come together for such a Council.

On March 8, some fifty students and faculty joined the President to learn about the Holy and Great Council of 2016. Rev. Dr. Thomas FitzGerald, Professor of Church History and Historical Theology, and Dr. Lewis Patsavos, Professor of Canon Law Emeritus, discussed the historical and canonical aspects of the Council. Dr. Patsavos emphasized the extraordinary significance of this gathering in that there is no precedent in the history of Christendom for so many ancient Churches claiming apostolic succession to meet in this way.

The Ecumenical Patriarchate has had the special responsibility of coordinating and guiding the Pan-Orthodox process leading to the Council. His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew has wisely guided the recent phases of the process and will chair the meetings on Crete. Topics on which the Council will focus have been under discussion since the early 20th century, but especially since the 1960s. Theological statements on ten topics have been prepared by bishops and theologians, most of which have been agreed upon, with some modification, offering hope of a new era in relations among the fourteen branches of Orthodoxy.