Athens, June 13, 2016/ Independent Balkan News Agency
By Spiros Sideris
The Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church, to be held from 19 to June 26, 2016 in Crete, is the Synod of Bishops of all the Orthodox Churches, which convenes after 10 centuries.
Yannis Amanatidis, Deputy Foreign Minister, Secretary General of the Interparliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy and Syriza MP of Thessaloniki, spoke exclusively to IBNA about the importance of the Pan-Orthodox Synod and the relations of the State and the Church.
Q: Minister, should we worry or be hopeful about the Holy and Great Synod of the Orthodox Church?
The synodical institution is related to the Church itself, in which faith is founded, important decisions are taken and the sacred tradition is recapitulated.
Therefore, the Holy Synod is a need of the Church and has to take place to prove the Orthodox unity and universality of its hopeful message.
Q: What does this Synod signify both for Orthodoxy and for Christianity?
The epoch-making significance of that meeting for the entire Orthodoxy is obvious, since for the first time in over a millennium, representatives of all local Orthodox Churches will meet to discuss and take joint decisions on very important issues that for decades the Orthodox faithful, and today’s humanity, because of the unprecedented and pressing challenges in the rapidly changing modern world.
In this respect, the convocation of the Holy and Great Synod is absolutely necessary to enable Orthodoxy to meet the demands of the times, giving strong evidence of its presence in the spiritually, morally and socially staggering modern world.
Q: Judging from recent events, it seems that there is an effort that is far from assisting the Unity of the Orthodox Church. Are you concerned that perhaps the Holy Synod is the beginning of the end of the Eastern Orthodox Church?
For its voice to have resonance in the modern world, Orthodoxy must appear united in one voice, overcoming the problems associated with the national peculiarities of the local Autocephalous Orthodox Churches that make it seem fragmented and weak on the outside.
In this regard the Holy Synod is an opportunity for the Orthodox Church to assert its unity and to speak with a single voice in all the world.
And this I believe will eventually occur.
Q: Orthodoxy is considered the most progressive of Christian doctrines. But in recent years there is a return to conservatism. How problematic is it to find an effective channel between the Christian faiths, to achieve common understanding?
Religion itself can produce the antidote against fundamentalism, if and when the enlightened theology and responsible hierarchy interpret the dictates of tradition in the spirit that gives life and not according to the letter that kills; applying in a merciful and not cruel way what is strictly necessary for the cohesion of society in a globalized planetary space and a historical time with a forward-looking perspective, not a backward one.
To this end, wise and methodical steps are needed by all sides, disregarding minor and insignificant issues, if they find that the unity of faith is a given.
Q: In what ways can politics help the Church in its work without interference from one side or the other? And how easy is it for there to be a seperation of the State and Church?
Regarding the question of separation allow me to reiterate that the relationship and roles of church and state are distinct, defined by the Constitution and characterized by contralateral respect.
This respect, both on the part of the State and the Church, is vital in today’s difficult times, in which the worsening problems such as the humanitarian crisis and refugee issues demand consistency and concurrence, under the weight of even the fiscal crisis and dysfunctions.
To address these problems, the government considers essential the contribution of the Church, the social work of which is considered fundamental from the beginning of the economic crisis in our country. For its part, the State, respecting the distinct role and purpose of the Church, may through numerous mechanisms available to it, become an essential supporter of the latter, so that its work can yield the maximum fruit for the benefit of all.