The possibility of convening a pan-Orthodox council without the participation of Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople cannot be ruled out, says His Grace Bishop Qais (Sadiq) of Erzurum, vicar to Patriarch John X of Antioch and All the East.
Moreover, there exists the possibility that he could be deposed if the crisis in Ukraine cannot be resolved peacefully, he told RIA-Novosti.
Bp. Qais spoke with the Russian outlet while in Moscow for an international conference dedicated to the protection of the rights of the faithful in Ukraine. In his address, he called for the nations of the world to impose sanctions upon Ukraine if the violence against the canonical Church does not cease and if there is no progress in returning the illegally seized churches.
“We honorably recognize the Patriarch of Constantinople, but today the problem is that the Patriarch of Constantinople is making a mistake. If all the Orthodox Churches gather a council without him and decide to depose the primate of Constantinople, this is possible,” the Antiochian hierarch said.
As he explained, usually when the desire to gather in council arises in the Orthodox world, then “every Church within itself determines and reaches an agreement on the matter,” and then “sends a request to the Patriarch of Constantinople” to convene the council.
“However, this is not a general, immutable rule,” His Grace added. “There is another possibility: Any Orthodox Church has the right to reach an agreement with the other Churches and call a council,” he explained.
While all of this remains a possibility, the Antiochian Church hopes that the situation can be resolved peacefully, without such radical solutions, the Patriarchal vicar emphasized. However, Pat. Bartholomew has already explicitly rejected Pat. John’s urging that he convene a pan-Orthodox council to resolve the Ukrainian crisis.
“So that the Patriarch of Constantinople would reexamine his decision, so the Church crisis in Ukraine would be resolved peacefully, and so the schismatics would return to the canonical Church,” Bp. Qais said.
In an interview with the Synodal Education Department of the Ukrainian Church in late 2016, Bp. Qais noted that the Antiochian Church supports the canonical Ukrainian Church and prays that Philaret Denisenko would come to his senses.
And speaking of the canonical primate, His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine, Bp. Qais said: “Metropolitan Onuphry is a simple man, but deep. There is a famous expression: ‘earthly angel and heavenly man’—this is Vladyka Onuphry. I can add nothing more.”