Under the auspices of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and hosted by the Holy Metropolitanate of Ierapitni and Sitia in Crete, a Panorthodox Preparatory Meeting was held one week after Easter, ahead of the forthcoming 13th General Assembly of the Conference of European Churches (C.E.C.) in Lyon, France from 15-21 July 2009.
The Meeting, which took place from 27-30 April, was attended by representatives of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the Patriarchates of Serbia and Romania, the Churches of Cyprus, Greece, Poland, Albania, Finland and Estonia, the Patriarchate of Bulgaria as an observer, and personnel of the Conference of European Churches. The Church of Cyprus was represented by Bishop Porphyrios of Neapolis and Archimandrite Benedict Ioannou.
During the Meeting, presentations and proposals were made and discussions were held on the topic of the forthcoming General Assembly, “Called to One Hope in Christ”. Talks also took place on a range of issues concerning present and future challenges facing the C.E.C.
Among the conclusions reached at this important and valuable Meeting were the following:
a) The Churches of Bulgaria and Georgia were urged to rejoin the C.E.C.
b) Regret was expressed over the postponement of the participation of the Russian Church and it was hoped that it will take part in the General Assembly in Lyon in July.
c) In recognition of the value of the Carta Oecumenica, it was recommended that its effect on the European dialogue should be reviewed and a commitment to implement it was renewed.
d) Concern was expressed over the large number of unfinished C.E.C. projects and a review of the criteria for their starting and completion was proposed.
e) Regarding the C.E.C.’s restructuring process, the following issues were emphasized among others:
1. The need to strengthen the co-ordinating role of the General Secretary.
2. The need for closer cooperation among the three C.E.C. Commissions.
3. The need to speed up the decision-making process on the issue of relocating the C.E.C. offices.
f) It was requested that, in its decision-making, during the 13th General Assembly the C.E.C. should adopt the method of consensus, as used successfully by the World Council of Churches.
g) It was proposed that an assessment be made of the experience of the three European Ecumenical Assemblies (Basel, Graz, Sibiu) with a view to finding new, creative ways of cooperating with the C.C.E.E (Consilium Conferentiarum Episcoporum Europae or Council of European Bishops’ Conferences).
In addition to its host, Bishop Evgenios of Ierapitni and Sitia, the Panorthodox Meeting was also attended and addressed by Archbishop Eirinaios of Crete and Bishop Damaskinos of Kydonia and Apokoronou.