- Feb 18, 2020
Papal trips are important for many reasons, including what they reveal about a pope’s personality and priorities. Francis’s June 24-26 outing to Armenia was no exception, offering insights about the importance of Argentina, his seriousness about the Orthodox, and his stubborn streak.
A “Holy and Great Council” of the Orthodox churches wrapped up on Sunday, and despite defections by key bodies such as the Russian Orthodox Church, organizers said they plan to repeat it within a decade, and Pope Francis described the gathering as “positive” and a “step forward.”
Many non-Catholics fear that unity with Rome would mean being swamped by the papacy, but by treating the head of the small Armenian Apostolic Church as a complete equal over the last three days, Pope Francis, in effect, suggested that in the end, size doesn’t matter.
In his daily tweet, Pope Francis said, “Let us join in prayer with our Orthodox brothers and sisters for the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church opening today in Crete.” The message was swiftly re-tweeted by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople.
As a “Holy and Great Council” of the Orthodox churches gets underway in Crete, tensions between Moscow and Constantinople, and between liberals and conservatives, have marred the event, with four churches scheduled to attend pulling out at the last minute while others forge ahead.
A leading cleric of the Oriental Orthodox Churches, invited to the “Great and Holy Council” taking place in Crete only as observers, says that “humanly speaking, one cannot expect much from this synod … but we believe in the power of the Holy Spirit who can guide us at all levels.”