Balamand (Agenzia Fides) - Orthodox Churches must safeguard unity, avoiding divisions and rifts. Only in this way the great pan-Orthodox Synod scheduled in 2016 will be a good opportunity to provide a united witness to the modern world and live up to the urgencies of the time. This is how Greek-Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch Yohanna X expressed himself during the Bishops' meeting of the Greek-Orthodox Churches of Antioch held in recent days in Balamand, Lebanon. The meeting brought together Bishops from Syria, Lebanon and other Middle Eastern Countries of the diaspora communities spread in other continents. During the meeting, the tragic situation in Syria and the Lebanese institutional paralysis was discussed. Reference was also made to the priests abducted, which include Boulos Yazigi, Metropolitan Greek-Orthodox of Aleppo, who is Patriarch Yohanna’s brother.
Patriarch Yohanna's words on the need to safeguard unity contain an implicit reference to the procedural difficulties and divisions that continue to surface among the various Orthodox Churches, and are heavily affecting the preparation of the Holy and Great Pan-Orthodox Synod convened in March two years ago by the Primates of the Orthodox Churches at the invitation of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I. The pan-Orthodox Synod should start in Istanbul June 19, 2016, Pentecost Sunday according to the Julian calendar. In recent days, rumors spread by news agencies - which are so far not officially confirmed - have reported that because of international tensions - as the clash between Russia and Turkey - the seat of the Great Synod could be moved from Istanbul to Chambésy, near Geneva. (GV) (Agenzia Fides 14/01/2016)