Meeting between delegations from the Patriarchates of Constantinople and Moscow

A delegation from the Patriarchate of Constantinople and one from the Patriarchate of Moscow met at the Orthodox Patriarchal Centre at Chambésy, near Geneva, on 23 January 2007, according to official press agencies. At the heart of their discussion was a series of questions concerning relations between the two Churches in particular, and interorthodox relations in general. The situation which has arisen in Great Britain following the reception of Bishop Basil of Amphipolis, previously of Sergievo, under the omophor of the Ecumenical Patriarch, and his integration into the Exarchate of Parishes of Russian Tradition in Western Europe, also needed to be addressed.

The delegation from the Patriarchate of Constantinople consisted of His Eminence Metropolitan John of Pergamon, Archpriest George Tsetsis, and Archimandrite Bartholomew (Samaras), assistant to the general secretary of the Holy Synod. That from the Patriarchate of Moscow was made up of Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad, head of the Department of External Church Relations of the Patriarchate of Moscow, Archpriest Nikolai Balashov, and Fr Serge Govoroune, all members of the same department.

A proposal had been made by the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church for a meeting between representatives of the two Patriarchates to examine this question, at its meeting of 6 October 2006, and had been accepted by the Patriarchate of Constantinople. At the same time, during its meeting of 18 October 2006, the Council of the Archdiocese, headed by His Eminence Archbishop Gabriel, welcomed this initiative, since a distressing situation has been created for all of us here who experience these divisions with pain and bitterness. The Council also expressed the hope that a discussion between the representatives of the two Patriarchates - taking account of the different aspects of the current situation - would be able to reduce the tensions and re-establish peace in respect of ecclesiological norms and the canons of the Orthodox Tradition.

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