After 1300 years, the Holy and Great Synod of the Orthodox Church took place at the Orthodox Academy of Crete (OAC). This historical event set the basis for an essential theological dialogue. It meant a landmark in the development of ecclesiastical matters as well as the life of the Orthodox Church all around the globe from this point on.
The beginning of the Holy and Great Synod of the Orthodox Church took place on Sunday of Pentecost, on 19 June, 2016, with a pan-orthodox concelebration of all Heads of the Churches taking part, at the Metropolitan Church of Agios Minas in Heraklion, Crete and the Divine Liturgy on the Feast of the Holy Spirit on 20 June, 2016, at the Holy Patriarchal and Stavropegial Monastery of Gonia.
The issues discussed during the Holy and Great Synod had to do with the Mission of the Orthodox Church in Today´s World, Autonomy and the Means by Which it is Proclaimed, The Sacrament of Marriage and its Impediments, The Importance of Fasting and Its Observance Today as well as Relations of the Orthodox Church with the Rest of the Christian World.
In the afternoon of Friday, 24 June, 2016, the official closing ceremony of the Holy and Great Synod took place. During this festive ceremony the Heads of the Orthodox Churches and their Delegations were present, but also the Members of the Holy Eparchial Synod of the Church of Crete, the Vice-Minister of External Affairs Mr Ioannis Amanatidis and other officials. At the closing ceremony also the Observers took part, who had been invited to be present during the opening and closing ceremonies.
The Heads of the Orthodox Churches sent a message of unity, condemning any form of egocentrism and racism, facing at the same time the multifaceted problems that trouble humankind today on all levels. Furthermore, it was stressed that the Orthodox Church condemns the violence of war and religious fundamentalism, sending an appeal for peace and justice to societies all over the world, to all countries, and suggests philanthropic support to all suffering people without discrimination, e.g. the refugees.
According to the Message of the Holy and Great Synod of the Orthodox Church “To the Orthodox people and to all people of good will”, “The Holy and Great Council has opened our horizon towards the contemporary diverse and multifarious world. It has emphasised our responsibility in place and in time, ever with the perspective of eternity. The Orthodox Church, preserving intact her Sacramental and Soteriological character, is sensitive to the pain, the distress and the cry for justice and peace of the peoples of the world. She “proclaims day after day the good tidings of His salvation, announcing His glory among the nations and His wonders among all peoples” (Psalm 95).”
Altogether 350 participants took part at the Holy and Great Synod as well as an additional number of press and television journalists.
Without any doubt, the successful organization and carrying out of the Holy and Great Synod of the Orthodox Church was possible due to the modern infrastructure of the Foundation where it took place, which has excellent and manifold possibilities and flexibility according to the needs of each conference, but at the same time due to the years-long experience of the staff, who showed a major sense of responsibility regarding this difficult historical challenge.