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The Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church – Part 2!


  • Steven
    Posted May 31, 2016 at 4:00 pm

    Dear Father-

    I must express my concern regarding this upcoming Council as well as the dismissive way that concerns and objections are being waved aside. Many hierarchs and theologians throughout the Orthodox world share these concerns.

    As a convert to Orthodoxy from a very traditional Roman Catholic background I can’t help but notice the ambiguous language being used in these documents is eerily similar to the language used in Vatican II’s Lumen Gentium. The excellent response by ROCOR ( also points out these difficulties. This isn’t about whether or not we are going to have “clown masses” come the end of June but whether the same ambiguous language that paved the way for the collapse of what is left of the roman church will be used by those who are trying to bring the Orthodox Church into conformity with the spirit of this age. It could even be argued that this meeting is novel within the history of the Church since the bishops aren’t meeting to condemn any particular error. Meeting simply to meet or “dialogue” has never been a reason for the entire Church to meet. Again, the specter of Vatican II looms.

    Fr. Peter Alban Heers has written a detailed article expressing why we should be cautious and concerned regarding this Council.

    Thank you for everything you do and I join you in prayer for a favorable outcome to this Council. Having said that though I personally would have appreciated a more balanced view and perhaps a guest who could have articulated these concerns.

    • Post Author
      Fr. Barnabas Powell
      Posted May 31, 2016 at 5:09 pm

      Dear Steven,

      Thank you for your note and your kind words. I appreciate the perspective you are expressing, but let me add that I have read both documents you reference and even passed on those documents to our guests.

      Two thoughts for you to consider: First, I am a priest with a bishop, not a journalist. Faith Encouraged LIVE has never fashioned itself as a journalistic program, but a program that helps people be “Orthodox on Purpose” and to apply the wisdom of the faith to everyday life. Whatever fosters peace and unity and a strong witness of the fullness of the Orthodox Faith to the world is at the heart of all I try to do, as weak and sinful as I am. As a priest, I make no claims to be anything other than a priest under authority and committed to obedience to my bishop, who is part of the delegation to the Council. This fidelity to my bishop is, I believe, required of me as a priest. In that obedience, I am both bound and committed to a positive and conciliar ecclesiology of “normal Orthodoxy” that includes, and is, in fact, made of, Councils and dialogue. Much of what I’ve read in those who seem to be fearful of the Council seem to run counter to that ecclesiology. The canons are clear that Synodal meetings are required by the Councils of the past. What sets Orthodox ecclesiology apart from Western developments is this conciliar approach to how we do Church. And, in fact, dialogue has always been a reason for the Episcopacy to gather in Council, especially when there are Pastoral issues to be faced together as a Church.

      Next, as also a convert to the Church, I am thrilled to see all these hierarchs gathering to wrestle over these texts as written. Some of these men have never met one another. And it is certainly time they did. I make no claim, nor, to my knowledge has even the most ardent supporter of the Council made the claim that the documents to be discussed are flawless. No less than Metropolitan Kallistos Ware made the very honest statement that the documents are less than inspiring. All the more reason for these hierarchs to gather and to correct, amend, and speak to the Church as a whole. There have been many councils, meeting of hierarchs through the centuries that did not deal with dogma, but pastoral issues. Even the Ecumenical Councils issued canons not just about dogma but pastoral practices that needed to be addressed by the Church as a whole. This is what this Council is meant to do.

      Finally, there have been few, if any, gatherings through the centuries of the hierarchs that weren’t preceeded by both acclimations and dire warnings from all sides. Those who have expressed major concerns will be amply represented at the Council. No less than Metropolitan Hierotheos Vlachos, whom I personally hold in high regard, will be one of the bishops at the Council and I have every confidence that dissenting voices will be heard. The very commitment of the bishops to consensus is proof that dissenting voices will be heard and respected. The Holy Spirit has been quite successful in protecting the Church since Pentecost and I have no doubt He, Who loves His Church, will prevail now. God has not given us a spirit of fear.

      Commending us all to the God Who loves us more than we, ourselves, know how to love, I remain your servant.

  • Steven
    Posted May 31, 2016 at 5:29 pm

    Dear Father-

    Thank you for your thoughtful response. I do appreciate that Orthodox ecclesiology has a certain built-in antidote to the destruction that was wrought in the wake of Vatican II since we don’t have a, to use a computer term, single point of failure (the pope). I certainly join you in prayer that the purity and beauty of the Orthodox Faith is upheld and clearly proclaimed to a World that desperately needs to hear the unadulterated Gospel of Jesus Christ which is only found within the Orthodox Church.

    I continue to pray for both the Council and your ministry, the latter which has been a source of edification for myself on many occasions.

    A sinner,


    • Post Author
      Fr. Barnabas Powell
      Posted May 31, 2016 at 5:46 pm

      Thank you Steven. Your prayers are desperately needed for this ministry, but especially for the Council. May God multiply the prayers of His Faithful all over the world for the Council.

      And your note, and the notes of so many others are a source of edification for me as well.

      Your servant,
      the fool, barnabas

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