CWN - A jurisdictional conflict between the Orthodox patriarchates of Antioch and Jerusalem poses a new threat to the success of an unprecedented worldwide council of Orthodox prelates. 

The Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch has issued a strong statement expressing "much distress and astonishment" at the decision by the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople to defer a decision on the conflict until after the Pan-Orthodox Council, which will take place later this month in Crete. The Antioch patriarchate said the council should be an expression of unity among the Orthodox churches.

This unity, the statement from Antioch said, "is best manifested by the Divine Liturgy on the day of Pentecost, with the concelebration of all the Orthodox autocephalous churches." Because the Patriacater of Antioch has broken off communion with the Patriarchate of Jerusalem, the statement strongly implied that representatives of Antioch would not participate in the opening liturgical celebration opening the Pan-Orthodox Council.

In another ominous note, the statement said that the prelates of the Antioch patriarchate "will meet in the next few days in order to study the special developments related to the Holy and Great Council, and take the proper decisions about them."

Earlier this week the Bulgarian Orthodox Church announced that it does not intend to participate in the Pan-Orthodox Council. The meeting had been intended to bring the prelates of all the world's Orthodox churches together for the first time since the split with Rome.

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Entrance of the Mother of God into the Temple

Today is the prelude of the goodwill of God * and the heralding of the salvation of mankind; * the Virgin appears clearly in the temple of God * and foretells Christ to all. * Let us also with a mighty voice cry out to her: * “Rejoice, O Fulfillment of the Creator’s divine plan.” (Troparion - Tone 4)

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(November 21st)

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