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Response from the Patriarchate of Antioch to Spokesman for the Council in Crete

By The Most Reverent Damaskinos, Metropolitan of Brazil

The official and reverend representative of the secretariat of the conference (συναντήσης) in Crete (from 17 to 26 June 2016) set forth yesterday (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 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 onto 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.

These charges surprise us, the charges of the reverend representative in question which have no relation to the truth. 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 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 continues to participate in the preparatory work after the Assembly in January and that She translates the texts of the synod into Arabic and that She sends the names of the members of Her 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.

HT to Abouna Mansour for the English text

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