Bulgarian Orthodox Church Patriarch Neofit and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartolomeos, meeting in Istanbul, have discussed the need to hold a “Great Ecumenical Council” to discuss a range of issues crucial for Eastern Orthodox Christian churches.
Issues to be discussed at such a council would include the hierarchy of the Orthodox Christian churches, the Orthodox calendar, marriage and fasting in the Orthodox church, relations with other Christian churches and other religions as well as the role of the Eastern Orthodox church in promoting Christian values such as peace, freedom, respect and love.
There has been talk for decades on holding a “holy and great Council of Orthodox Church”.
Issues to be resolved include where and under whose chairmanship such a council should be held, and how decisions should be approved – by consensus or by majority vote.
Bartolomeos – since 1991 the Ecumenical Patriarch, a post that is “first among equals” in the practice of the Orthodox Christian churches – said that he wanted to arrange a meeting early in 2014 of Orthodox churches to discuss the forthcoming convocation of an Ecumenical Council.
During discussions, Bartolomeos raised with Neofit the issue of the participation of the Bulgarian Orthodox Churches in inter-Christian and inter-religious dialogue, as well as the World Council of Churches.
Also discussed was the situation of the Bulgarian church community in Istanbul, and the need was highlighted for more Bulgarian priests to care for the community there, Bulgarian religious news website Dveri said. The same issue was discussed in relation to Greek-speaking Orthodox Christians in Bulgaria.
It was the first official visit abroad for Neofit, who was elected Patriarch of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church in February 2013.