CWN - The Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch has announced that it will not participate in the Pan-Orthodox Council, scheduled to take place in Crete later this month.
The Antioch patriarchate becomes the 2nd major Orthodox body to opt out of the worldwide meeting. The Bulgarian Orthodox Church had already indicated that it would not participate. The defections cast a shadow over the unprecedented meeting, which was designed to foster unity among the world's Orthodox churches.
The Patriarchate of Antioch is locked in a jurisdictional dispute with the Patriarchate of Jerusalem, and had appealed to the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople to settle the matter. When the Constantinople see indicated that it would defer a decision until after the June meeting, the Antioch patriarchate said that it could not share Communion with representatives of the Jerusalem patriarchate.
"The Antiochian Church will not participate in the Holy and Great Council until the reasons which prevent participating in the Holy Eucharist during the Council disappear," the patriarchate announced on June 7. The statement urged the Ecumencial Patriarchate to postpone the meeting, which is scheduled to open on June 19.
The Ecumenical Patriarchate had announced a day earlier that the Council would open on schedule.