Just days away from the upcoming meeting of the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Churches from around the world (which lately has been meeting very roughly every thousand years or so), this communication has been received from Constantinople, that is, from the Ecumenical Patriarchate, host of the event:

The Sacred Endemousa Synod was informed with surprise and wonder of the positions and opinions expressed recently by some sister Orthodox Churches and, after evaluating these, ascertained that no institutional framework allows for the revision of the Synodal process already under way. Therefore, it is expected that the Primates of the most holy Orthodox Churches will bring, in accordance with the Organization and Working Procedure of the Holy and Great Council, any “proposals to amend, correct, or append the Synodal texts that were unanimously approved by the Pan-Orthodox Preconciliar Meetings and by Synaxes of the Primates pertaining to the agenda topics” (see Article 11) for final formulation and decision during the sessions of the Holy and Great Council, with the invocation and inspiration of the All-Holy Spirit.

The Ecumenical Patriarchate, which bears the first responsibility for safeguarding the unity of Orthodoxy, calls all to rise to the occasion and participate, on the pre-determined dates, in the sessions of the Holy and Great Council, as was decided and signed on a pan-Orthodox level both by the Primates during the Sacred Synaxes, as well as by those authorized by each Delegation during the entire lengthy preparatory process of the Council.

I suspect, in part, this is a response to a recent meeting of the Holy Synod of the Bishops of the Orthodox Church of Georgia, which wishes to revise the synodal texts on the agenda, as reported at the Orthodox Christian Laity site:

The Holy Synod concluded that two places in the text of “The Sacrament of Marriage and Impediments to It” require alterations, which are, specifically:

Article 10 of the subchapter “Orthodox Marriage”; Subparagraph “a” of article 5 in the subchapter “Impediments to Marriage”;

Article 10 of the subchapter “Orthodox Marriage” reads: “The Church does not accept a marriage between her members of the same sex; neither does she accept any kind of living together other than that within the bond of Holy Matrimony. The Church directs all her pastoral efforts towards the goal that her members living within such bonds attain true repentance and love, blessed by the Church”.

This subparagraph must be changed in the following way:

“The Church cannot accept a sexual relationship between persons of the same sex, neither can she accept any kind of living together other than in Holy Matrimony, and condemns this sin. The Church is concerned about the eternal lot of the immortal souls of people who continue to live with such a sin, and directs all her pastoral efforts towards their help in cognizing the extreme grievance of this sin to depart from it by way of the true repentance”.

The clear change here includes an explicit condemnation of any “sexual relationship between persons of the same sex” and not just “marriage between members of the same sex.” Then there is another disagreement on what is sometimes called inter-marriage. In this case, the Church of Georgia seems far to the right of many Orthodox.

Subparagraph “a” of article 5 of the second subchapter of “Impediments to Marriage” reads:

“Marriage between the Orthodox and the non-Orthodox is forbidden according to the canonical akriveia and is not blessed (canon 72 of the Trullo Council); however, it can be blessed through tolerance and loving-kindness, but only on condition that the children born within such a marriage will be baptised and brought up in the bosom of the Orthodox Church”.

In the aforementioned article, the first part of the text must be maintained, which reads: “Marriage between an Orthodox and a non-Orthodox is forbidden according to the canonical acribia and is not blessed (canon 72 of the Trullo Council);” but the second part, which reads: “however, it can be blessed through tolerance and loving-kindness, but only on condition that the children born within such a marriage will be baptised and brought up in the bosom of the Orthodox Church”, must be removed as it contradicts the 72nd canon of the Sixth Ecumenical Council.

There are other changes noted. “The Holy Synod has concluded that the mentioned document contains ecclesiological and terminological errors and requires serious alterations. If the alterations are not made, the Church of Georgia will not sign the text.” What will be the final outcome?