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    A picture taken in Moscow on May 6, 2016 shows the Russian Orthodox Cathedral of the Annunciation dedicated to the Annunciation of the Theotokos.

    Russian Orthodox Church to Skip Pan-Orthodox Council

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    Russian Orthodox Church spokesman Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk has not departed for Crete to attend the Pan-Orthodox Council on the Greek island of Crete after the church decided to suspend its participation following the refusal of several orthodox churches to take part, a church source told RIA Novosti Friday.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) — The Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church, also known as the Pan-Orthodox Council, is a planned synod of the bishops of all autocephalous local churches of Eastern Orthodox Christianity. The Council is set be held on the Greek island of Crete on June 16-27, after more than 50 years of preparations. The Bulgarian Orthodox Church, the Antiochian Orthodox Church, and the Serbian Orthodox Church refused to participate in the Council.

    "Metropolitan Hilarion is currently in Moscow. Given that a number of churches does not find it worthwhile sending its representatives to take part in composing the message of the Pan-Orthodox Council, the Russian church has decided that the participation of its representative is untimely as long as issues of the feasibility of convening the council itself are unresolved," the source said.

    Earlier this week, the Russian Orthodox Church proposed to the Patriarchate of Constantinople to hold an extraordinary meeting no later than June 10 in the light of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church’s refusal to participate in the Pan-Orthodox Council. The proposal was denied, with the Patriarchate of Constantinople saying that the Council would be held despite the Bulgarian Church’s move, as no institutional structure could revise the council process once it began.

    "Yesterday, we received an official refusal regarding this proposal by the Patriarchate of Constantinople. We intend to carefully study positions of other churches and listen to the expressed opinions," the source added.

    Problems voiced by the Russian church are known to the Patriarchate of Constantinople, the source added, stating that the patriarchate is trying to resolve the problems and is certain that all churches will take part in the council.

    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 on doctrinal issues, introduce innovations or change canonical structures, according to Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill.

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