Russian Church Denies Reports of Schism in Orthodox World

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The situation surrounding the preparation of the Pan-Orthodox Council can not be described as a schism in the Orthodox world, the head of the Moscow Patriarchate Department for External Church Relations (DECR) told Sputnik on Thursday.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk thus denied media reports of a schism in the Orthodox world due to the refusal by a number of local Orthodox Churches to attend the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church, also known as the Pan-Orthodox Council in late June.

"The situation that has developed around the preparation of the Pan-Orthodox Council can be described as regular, although extremely difficult. There is no reason to call the current situation a schism," Hilarion said.

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The council is set to be the first pan-Orthodox gathering in over a 1,000 years, but will not be ecumenical, as it will not decide any doctrinal issues, introduce innovations or change canonical structures, according to Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill.

The council is set to be held on the Greek island of Crete on June 17-26, after more than 50 years of preparations. A number of churches, including the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, the Georgian Orthodox Church have refused to participate in the council as the procedure and documents of the council have not been worked out properly yet.

On Monday, Russian Orthodox Church said that the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church met for an extraordinary session after which it offered to postpone the Council to a later date because several Orthodox churches had refused to participate and it was expecting a response from the Patriarchate of Constantinople.

"Unfortunately, the problems voiced by the autocephalous churches were ignored. Now, in the remaining time, they can not be solved. In such circumstances, I see no reason which could move the Russian church to change its decision," the metropolitan said.

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