July 5, 2016

Interview with Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos on the Holy and Great Synod (video)

Nafpaktian News interviewed Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos at the Metropolis of Nafpaktos on July 4, 2016 regarding his impressions of the Holy and Great Synod. Below are summarized highlights from the interview for those who don't know Greek.

- History and the faithful will judge how this Holy and Great Synod will be viewed.

- It was a joy for me to participate in this Great Synod of the Church.

- There were both positives and negatives about this Synod.

- A positive is that it circulated a fairy-tale about six months prior. People were saying the last Synod was the Seventh Ecumenical Synod 1200 years ago, or that it had been a thousand years since a Synod like it. The Encyclical of the Synod clarifies that the Synods of Photios in the 9th century, Gregory Palamas in the 14th century, and others later on have 'universal recognition', in other words, they are Ecumenical Synods. I was told they made up this fairy-tale to bring media interest to this Synod. But this fairy-tale was erased.

- A negative is that 14 Churches were not present, but 10. Also, there were problems with the structure of the Synod and how it was communicated to us beforehand.

- I attended as a matter of conscience to uphold what the Holy Synod of the Church of Greece decided on the texts, which I believed in. But I didn't want to sit there like a listener or a statue, but wanted to actively participate.

- In the beginning everything was going well with the Synod, but when discussions began on the text about the Church and its relations with the rest of the Christian world, there were problems. By "the rest of the Christian world" was meant all those who in various Synods of the Church were condemned, such as Nestorians, Monophysites, Catholics and Protestants.

- Various Orthodox Churches proposed changes to the section which acknowledged these other Christians as Churches. One proposition was to call them "heterodox Churches", but we thought it was harsh to call them heterodox Churches, whether or not we can call them "Churches", in this particular diplomatic document, since it means heretics, so we opted for "Christian communities and confessions." There were disagreements about this, until the Ecumenical Patriarch wanted me and the Metropolitan of Pergamon to meet and discuss this privately to come to a decision, but we didn't want to discuss this privately. I wanted to represent the Church of Greece publicly. In a gathering later on there were three proposals set forward: to make the changes of the Church of Greece, settle for the historical name of calling them "heterodox Churches", or the proposal of Cyprus. Most chose the second. I said that if its not the first I will not sign the document. I said this because I wanted to be faithful to the decision of the Church of Greece, and be faithful to my own beliefs.

- Someone told me that if I don't sign it will appear the Synod did not unanimously agree. I said that from now on I will no longer participate, so it will not appear the Synod did not unanimously agree. Thus when other issues came up again, I determined not to speak.

- It was decided that there should be a unanimous decision on these topics, and when there were disagreements between Hierarchs they should find a common ground. Majority decision was rejected because it could create nationalist interests and divisions of the Churches.

- The future reception of this Synod is uncertain. There are many scenarios. I hope there is an effort to bring a unified acceptance on the matter. The Ecumenical Patriarch appeared to be very knowledgeable and have much experience about this, and this is needed, so there will not be divisions and a schism in the Orthodox Church.

- I signed the document on marriage, but with reservations regarding the details of mixed marriages.

- According to the Ecumenical Patriarch, discussions regarding these texts have not been finalized. An encyclical will be distributed to each Church, encouraging gatherings of each Church on their own to discuss these matters. Therefore, these topics will continue to be discussed to reveal the conscience of the Church. This will allow the Church as a whole to express how it will view this Synod.

- This gathering gave me much joy and experience, and allowed me to see how the Hierarchs communicate with each other and to listen to them talk about their own local ministries. For example, when we talked about fasting, a representative from Africa talked about how we shouldn't talk about which days we can consume oil or not, because in some places in Africa, whatever moves they eat. This is why we decided when it comes to such details, the local Church is to decide. However, though I left with great experience, I was also troubled.