His Holiness Patriarch Kirill: Surrender of the principle of consensus in the pre-Council process can bring about disorders in world Orthodoxy

Patriarch Kyrill of MoscowReading between the lines it seems two questions are in play: 1) How to treat the autocephalous Churches and 2) whether consensus or majority vote will be used to determine how decisions are made. My question is if consensus is chosen, how will it be determined when consensus is reached?

Source: Russian Orthodox Church Department of External Church Relations

A process of preparation for the Pan-Orthodox Council launched fifty years ago has become brisker, His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia noted in his report delivered at the meeting of the Moscow Diocesan Assembly.

All Local Orthodox Churches, which take part in the preparation, have got agreement on the ten topics of the Council out of ten. According to His Holiness, the advance is unthinkable without preliminary agreement that ought to be reached at the Pan-Orthodox pre-Council meetings; the principle of taking decisions unanimously or by consensus is fixed in the rules.

Last February, however, the particulars of one of the outstanding topics were not agreed upon. This is the topic of autocephaly. Representatives of certain Local Churches cast doubt on the expedience of the principle of consensus in the pre-Council process and posed a question of its replacement by the majority principle.

“We are told that the principle of consensus was not always used in the epoch of Ecumenical Councils, – His Holiness continued. – At that time, the imperial power was the instrument of keeping church unity, but there is no such a mechanism at present. The Local Churches live and work in different countries and under specific conditions. If we do not take into account their opinion, it would be difficult to take decisions at the future Council by all, and this may provoke disorders.”

“We have held consultations with other Local Churches, and it transpired that they were equally concerned,” His Holiness said and reminded the audience of the meeting of the Primates and representatives of the seven Local Orthodox Churches that took place at the Moscow Kremlin on 21 November 2011.

“All participants in the meeting spoke up for upholding the principle of consensus both in the pre-Council process and at the Council,” the Primate of the Russian Church underscored.


  1. Apostles had to find someone to take Judas’ place. They were plenty of saints around them, so they took a straw to know which of their best followers God would take.

    We have plenty of politicians in cassock, all with titles – his supreme beatitude of extreme humility of ecumenical sanctity of universal knowledge and purity and perfection and other silliness. Instead of using the Apostle’s way to know who will lead, who will take what place, they’re playing like bad kids in a dark street. They invent themselves jurisdictions not existing at all, they take titles of long ago vanished dioceses (because now on islamic yoke ground without anything non-muslim still alive there). And we have no Council.

    The world needs to hear the Gospel. And to see it practised so as to believe it is true – as says our Lord in the Gospel of John.

    The Church needs to break down in Council – only possibility to do it – the silly anathemas against the Copts, our brethren in Faith.

    The Bride deserves better than that sad circus.

  2. Fr. Johannes Jacobse :

    Sometimes events outrun man’s attempts to control them. I can’t help but think (intuit is probably a better word) that something is stirring in the Orthodox world that may release energy and creativity in ways not seen in centuries. Results may be mixed, but in total it will be much better than having done nothing at all.

  3. You know alot of these same issues relate to the episcopal assembly in the USA. We still do not know how the EA makes decisions as a body. Even the folks involved in the meetings cannot answer such simple questions. You really cannot get a serious answer out of anyone involved in the whole EA process.

    You have to wonder what is going on.

    I am not so optimistic about what the future holds. How can the Church claim to be conciliar and then never be able to hold a Council? Never in the history of the world has it been easier to hold an Ecumenical Council than it is today. There really is nothing wrong with holding a Council.

    The Church in many ways is experiencing a breakdown in its ability to govern itself and with this breakdown comes all types of abuses and errors. Mix in the fact the majority of local churches are government subsidized and you can see how ugly things can really get in the Orthodox world.

    • This is worth repeating:

      “How can the Church (today) claim to be conciliar and then never be able to hold a Council?”

      • One thing I see that is more and more evident is just how addicted today’s Orthodox leaders are to mediocrity. The status quo has become a very lucrative endeavor. Orthodox bishops, senior staffers, clergy, lay chairs etc are not really committed to an enviroment of Christian excellence, they have no desire to progress towards goals Christ calls us to. Instead they simply preserve and profit from modern day Orthodox dysfunction while resisting any type of positve growth or evangelical outlook. When you make over $100,000 guarding a museum there is not much motivation to cultivate a garden a life.

        This is why concepts like an Ecumenical Council, moral consensus, and an American Orthodox Church are given lip service but never acted on.

        Lets take the GOA for example with its emphasis on omogenia not evangelism. Consider the following hypothetical situation: Given its history, if the GOA through its efforts attracted a large number of Hispanic converts in the USA … so many converts in fact that the number of hispanics in GOA Churches outnumbered the number of Greeks…. would this be considered a success or failure to the upper echelons of GOA leaders?

        Think about it, we have Orthodox churches and leaders today who would frown upon large groups of people being received into the faith if their presence in the church altered the ethnic make-up of said Church.

  4. Does this mean that some one person, be it the EP or the Pope, really does need to be a kind of “imperial power” in order for the various Local Orthodox Churches to be compelled to come to a meeting and decision on the variety of issues before it today?

    • Well, Greg lets put it this way. I don’t think any Orthodox Patriarch whose livelihood is depedendent on the approval and subsidies of foreign governments is capable of exercising the leadership needed to convene a council.

      • So… does this mean that there will not be a Holy and Great Council for a long, long time? And that Orthodoxy in Europe and the Americas will be in its present multi-jurisdictional state for the same long, long time?

        • Greg, yes…unless, we decide we want to be a real local church and stop waiting for the dhimmi leaders. Right now, at least in the US, we rather like our limbo state because that way we have no responsibility. We can be in the Church but not of her. Unfortunately, the longer we refuse to step up the greater the liklihood that we will disolve into Protestant-like schisms.

  5. How much influence DID the Emperors have on the convening of, and on compelling a decision from the Bishops of, the Seven Ecumenical Councils?

    • I’m wondering about the Emperors influence along the lines of…

      “Alright, you Bishops get together at (this) place and (this) time and make a decision about (these) topics. And no one goes home until the work is done!”

    • Does anyone have a good book to reference about my question?

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