(Vatican Radio) In ten daysʼ time, a historic meeting of leaders of the worldʼs Orthodox Churches is due to begin on the Greek island of Crete. More than 350 bishops are expected to participate in the ʽHoly and Great Council of the Orthodox Churchʼ which will be chaired by the spiritual leader of the Orthodox world, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople.
Preparations have been in the works for several decades, but have intensified over recent months as Patriarch Bartholomew sought consensus on key documents from the 14 self-governing or ʽAutocephalousʼ local Orthodox Churches. It has been an uphill and difficult task requiring delicate balances of interest, compromises and concessions, yet even over the past few days two Orthodox leaders have threatened to withdraw from the eight day encounter.
Professor George Demakopoulos is co-director of the Orthodox Christian Studies Center at Fordham University in the United States. He spoke to Nicolas Papachristou about the difficult process of preparing for this Council and the way it may help to strengthen relations with other Christians, including the Catholic Church: