Letter of the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church to His Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Sir Sir Bartholomew, a copy of which has been sent to all the Primates of Orthodox Churches and their Holy Synods
The Holy Synod of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church
6. jun 2016
To His Holiness
Archbishop of Constantinople, New Rome, and Ecumenical Patriarch
Sir Sir Bartholomew
Subject: Holy and Great Synod
Christ is risen!
Most Holy Archbishop of Constantinople, New Rome, and Ecumenical Patriarch, beloved brother in Christ and co-celebrant of Our humbleness, Sir Bartholomew, most wholeheartedly we greet Your respected Holiness with brotherly embrace in the Lord.
We deem it unnecessary to stress the measure of hope, sincere commitment and contribution, according to our capacity, with which our Church participated in the preparation of the Holy and Great Synod of the Orthodox Catholic Church.
However, having taken into consideration:
1. the dissatisfaction and critical remarks of certain local Churches in regard to particular texts, prepared in the pre-Synodal period;
2. the irrevocable decision of the Patriarchates of Antiochia and Bulgaria to refrain from participating in the Synod;
3. the problems in relations and communion between Churches (Jerusalem — Аntioch because of Catar; deteriorating relations between us and the Patriarchate of Romania, which are now hard to overcome, due to the anti-canonical incursion of the latter into Eastern Serbia and the founding of a parallel diocese there, which will lead to severing of liturgical and canonical communion of the two neighbouring Churches if the behavior described above is not terminated, and so on), conjointly with the perspective of allowing these problems to not be solved at the Synod but, rather, to be deferred to the post-Synodal period, as if any commission can be an organ higher than the pan-Orthodox Synod, and
4. the lack of will from our Mother Church of Constantinople to have at least one of the proposals of our Church (such as the discussion on autocephaly, right of bishops to vote at the Synod, on regarding the synods from the ninth and fourteenth centuries as ecumenical already, in the consciousness and practice of the Orthodox Church, and some other ones, perhaps less significant) included into the thematic and agenda of the Synod, and, as long as we remain obligated by the standpoints of the Holy Assembly of Bishops of our Church, officially formulated two years ago, as well as recently, at the end of the past month of May,
we are compelled, with sadness — but also with full feeling of our pastoral and, generally, ecclesial responsibility — to inform Your dear and respected Holiness and Your Holy and Sacred Synod that, since all this is so, our Church feels it difficult to participate in the summoned Holy and Great Synod, and proposes that it be postponed for a certain time: while our pending gathering at Crete, with the help of God, would be regarded as a pre-Synodal inter-Orthodox consultation with the aim of additionally preparing the Synod and improving its texts, or, at the most, as the inaugural phase of the whole synodal process, which is to be completed in subsequent continuation, in the next phase, when all disagreements are removed in favor of unity of mind and consensus of Churches. In this way, with the aid of God, the fruit of the Synod will be seen as witness given to our uncorrupted faith, answer to hope which abides in us as the message of salvation in Christ, directed to all, both to those who are close to us and to those who are remote, and in no case, God forbid, as germination of new pestilent schismas and para-synagogues under the excuse of falsely proclaimed zealousness and alleged preservation of Orthodoxy.
In regard to the said we remain Your Holiness’ humble brother and co-celebrant in the risen Christ
Аrchbishop of Peć, Metropolitan of Belgrade-Karlovci and
President of the Holy Synod of Bishops