UKRAINIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH OF THE USA
CONSISTORY OFFICE OF PUBLIC RELATIONS
Ecumenical Patriarch, Primates and Hierarchs of the Orthodox Church Begin Deliberations of the Holy and Great Council in Crete
CHANIA, Crete (Greece) – The people, the island and the Church of Crete welcomed warmly His-All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and hierarchs of various Orthodox Church communities, who arrived in Chania International Airport to convene the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church, which will take place June 19-26, 2016.
His Eminence Metropolitan Antony, the Prime Hierarch of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA accompanied the Ecumenical Patriarch, as a member the Ecumenical Patriarchate's official delegation at the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church. Some 300 bishops and others meeting, praying and discussing issues of common concern.
Upon his arrival the Ecumenical Patriarch expressed his “joy of fulfillment of our historical mission” and urged the Orthodox Church across the world to join him. The Holy and Great Council, said His-All Holiness, is “our sacred mission,” and although the joy of the historic events are clouded by the decision of some churches not to attend, “the responsibility for their decision lies with those same churches and their Primates, since, just five months ago, at the Synaxis of the Orthodox Primates in Geneva, we made a decision and put our signatures to it, that we should come to Crete in June and realize this vision held over many years, which all our churches cherish, to declare and proclaim the unity of our Orthodox Church, and to examine and reach a common resolution of the problems that are of concern to the Orthodox world.”
“Crete welcomes you, Your All-Holiness, offering its aromatic herbs dictamnus and thyme, prays for the unity of Orthodoxy and asks for your blessing,” said a verse of the traditional Cretan song at the dinner offered by the local hierarch, His Eminence Metropolitan Amphilochios of Kissamos and Selinou. Responding to the welcome, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew spoke of the Cretan hospitality, geniality and nobility and said that Crete welcomes and embraces all Orthodox including those who decided not to come.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Greece Nikos Kotzias hosted an official welcome dinner for the Ecumenical Patriarch and the Primates of the Orthodox Church who arrived in Crete the last several days. Mr. Kotzias in his greeting assured his guests that “The Hellenic State will contribute in every way, focused on unity and love, for the caring of the people and the cooperation of the Orthodox Churches, all the churches and secular people.”
Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew in his response spoke of the role of Orthodoxy in the 21st century.
“The Orthodox Church is the ark of the pure Christian tradition that offers support and consolation, because Orthodoxy managed to maintain even today…the mystical experience and the experience of personal communion with the personal God despite the explosive technological and scientific evolution,” said His All-Holiness.
Speaking about the Holy and Great Council, the Ecumenical Patriarch said, “[the Council] is of great importance, because it shall offer the opportunity for the unified voice of Orthodoxy to be expressed and shall deliver a single message of true faith, real hope and peaceful reconciliation to our world that is in conflict.”
Dr. Gayle Woloschak, who is a member of the Council of Metropolia of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA is also taking part in the proceedings of the Holy and Great Council, serving as a member of the official Press Office.