(Crete, Greece) – The Orthodox Council, which was scheduled to take place in Istanbul, Turkey, has now moved to the island of Crete in Greece. The Pan-Orthodox Council will meet on Crete from June 17th to June 27th to discuss various issues that pertain to the Orthodox Church and the people who practice. There are around 300 million Orthodox Christians located throughout the world, and the meeting will bring together people who will be representing all of them. The Russian Orthodox represents expressed concern about entering Turkey due to political tensions between the two countries, which led to the council being moved to Greece.
The Pan-Orthodox Council has been in the planning stages since 1961. The last time Orthodox Christian leadership has met in this fashion was in 787 for the Ecumenical Council, which was held in Nicea (modern day İznik in Turkey), well before the Great Schism of 1054 where the Eastern and Western Churches split. At the time, there were only 4 churches in Christianity. currently, there are 14 churches in Orthodox Christianity, and the historic council will have representatives from each. The head of the Orthodox Church is located in Istanbul, which is where the meeting was originally going to take place. This is the first time all 14 churches will be meeting in one place. Other Churches will also be sending representatives, such as the Catholic Church and many others.
Back in 2014, representatives agreed to hold the Orthodox Council at Hagia Irene Church Museum in Istanbul, which was built before Hagia Sophia and was the original house of the Orthodox Patriarchate. In December of 2015, Patriarch Krill of the Russian Orthodox Church expressed concern over holding the meeting in Istanbul because of the ongoing tensions between Turkey and Russia. He expressed concern shortly after the Turkish army shot down a Russian jet. However, many believe that tensions between the two actually began in 1453 when the Turks captured Constantinople. Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople consented to move the historical meeting to Crete so that it wouldn’t be canceled because of the tensions. He was quick to point out, however, that the point of the meeting is religious one, not political, and the representatives will discuss religious topics that pertain to the Orthodox faith.