Why there is no way to postpone the Council: the logic of consensus
Author: Natallia Vasilevich, Smilen Markov
According to the “Organization and Working Procedure of the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church“, adopted by the Primates of the Local Orthodox Churches at their Synaxis, which was held 21-28 January 2016 in Chambésy, the Council “is convened by His All-Holiness, the Ecumenical Patriarch, with the consent of Their Beatitudes, the Primates of all the universally recognized autocephalous Local Orthodox Churches“.
By the same governing body, consisting of ALL Primates of the Orthodox Church (and those who were not able to attend were represented by officially authorized delegates) came to the consensus agreement that the Holy and Great Synod of the Orthodox Church to be held at the Orthodox Academy of Crete from June 16th to 27th, 2016 (See: Communique of the Sinaxis).
If we follow the logic of consensus as a basic principle of taking decisions in the framework of the pre-conciliar and conciliar process, once undertaken by the consensus, the decision can be amended, modified, cancelled – only be the consensus, and if at least one local church does not agree with the amendment or new decision, the decision is vetoed and can not be adopted. Coming to the recent events of some churches’ proposals or claims to postpone the Holy and Great Council, even if 13 Local Churches decide upon the necessity to postpone, and only one Local Orthodox Church will continue to follow the initial decision, the others shall act in accordance with the unanimously adopted decision.
CONCLUSION: The logic of consensus does not leave any room for the Local Churches to withdraw from the participation, neither it let to postpone the Holy and Great Council, unless new unanimous decision is taken on this matter.
Natallia Vasilevich is a Belarusian theologian, political science and lawyer. She has MA in political sciences of the Belarusian State University and MA in ecumenical studies from the University of Bonn, where she is currently writing her PhD about the history and significance of the document “The Mission of the Church in the Today’s World” to be adopted by the Holy and Great Synod of the Orthodox Church.
Smilen Markov is a Bulgarian theologian and philosopher. He did his PhD at the University of Cologne with a b
ook on the Metaphysical synthesis on John of Damascus (Brill, 2015). At present he is assistant professor in Christian philosophy and Byzantine theology at the Theological Faculty of the University of Veliko Turnovo.