Pre-Conciliar Pan-Orthodox Conference Approves New Episcopal Assemblies throughout the World
Pre-Conciliar Pan-Orthodox Conference Approves New Episcopal Assemblies throughout the World At the invitation of His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, delegates from the fourteen Autocephalous Churches participated in the historic Fourth Pre-Conciliar Pan-Orthodox Conference, meeting at the Center of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Chambésy-Geneva, Switzerland on June 6-12, 2009. The Conference was a direct result of the Synaxis of the Heads of all the Orthodox Churches, convened by His All Holiness at the Ecumenical Patriarchate October 10-12, 2008. At that time, all the Heads, They expressed their “desire for the swift healing of every canonical anomaly that has arisen from historical circumstances and pastoral requirements, such as in the so-called Orthodox Diaspora, with a view to overcoming every possible influence that is foreign to Orthodox ecclesiology.”At the October meeting of the Heads of the Autocephalous Churches, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew called upon them to “activate the 1993 agreement of the Inter-Orthodox Consultation of the Holy and Great Council in order to resolve the pending matter of the Orthodox Diaspora.” This agreement provided a plan to establish an ‘Episcopal Assembly’ with appropriate authority for the bishops to guide the entire Church in each of the regions of the so-called Orthodox Diaspora. Acting as formal representatives of the Autocephalous Churches, the members of the Fourth Pre-Conciliar Conference in Chambésy affirmed “that is the common will of all of the most holy Orthodox Churches that the problem of the Orthodox Diaspora be resolved as quickly as possible, and that it be organized in accordance with Orthodox ecclesiology, and the canonical tradition and practice of the Orthodox Church.” The Conference decided to establish an “Episcopal Assembly” in specific regions which are beyond the boundaries of the Autocephalous Churches. The Conference initially identified twelve regions throughout the world. The Episcopal Assembly will include all the canonical Orthodox bishops in a given region such as North America. The representative of the Ecumenical Patriarch (in this case, Archbishop Demetrios of America) will chair the Episcopal Assembly in each region. The Assembly will meet yearly and will have an Executive Committee which will meet every three months. Other committees, composed of clergy and laity, will be established to address particular concerns.