Tag Archives: Peter Bouteneff

Bishops in Council: Are They Representative?

by Peter Bouteneff

It is commonly understood in the Orthodox Church that the bishop represents the Church, particularly within its conciliar life. But can he truly represent the Church, in its diversity, in every way and context?

The bishop represents the Church in at least two ways: (1) He distinguishes the local manifestation of the Universal Church from any random gathering of like-minded individuals. (Ignatius’s second-century epistles testify to this episcopal function with reference to the person of Christ.) (2) He carries the duty to maintain continuity with the apostolic faith, the traditio of right doctrine. The early church established a clear succession: Christ → Apostles → Bishops. Continue Reading…

The Great and Holy Council and the Implications of the Consensus Method

by Peter C. Bouteneff

The document on “Relations of the Orthodox Church with the Rest of the Christian World” was adopted as a draft text last October by the 5th Pan-Orthodox Pre-Council Conference in Chambésy. Its status going forward is not entirely clear. Misgivings about the text have led to rumors of its outright rejection by one or another Church. The specter of a Church’s refusal to consider this or any document slated for the Council’s deliberation raises important questions about decision-making during the pre-conciliar process and at the Great and Holy Council itself.

At the urging most notably of the Moscow Patriarchate, all decisions surrounding the Great and Holy Council are to be taken “by consensus.” But what is the history of consensus in pan-Orthodox contexts, what does “consensus” actually mean, and how will it be enacted at the Council? Continue Reading…