It is not planned to hold a Pan-Orthodox Council in the foreseeable future, since serious disagreements have arisen in the family of Orthodox Churches, including issues related to who and how can convene Councils, said Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, Chairman of the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate.
Vladyka Hilarion recalled that the Councils, known in church history as Ecumenical, were convened by the Byzantine emperors, who presided over them. In total, from the 4th to the 8th centuries there were seven Ecumenical Councils. An attempt to convene a Pan-Orthodox Council was made only in the middle of the 20th century, and preparations for it were carried out for more than fifty years. As a result, in 2016, a Council of Ten Churches was held in Crete, which cannot be called pan-Orthodox, because four of the fourteen generally recognized Local Orthodox Churches did not participate in it; moreover, the decisions of the Cretan Council were not accepted by all the Churches.
However, there is a need for a Pan-Orthodox Council, believes the DECR chairman. “But before holding this Council, it must be carefully prepared,” Metropolitan Hilarion emphasized. – The more than fifty years that were allocated for preparation, as it turned out, were not enough, because literally in the last weeks before the Council, which was planned as Pan-Orthodox, several Churches refused to participate in it, and each of them had its own reasons . Therefore, in order to prepare a new Council, it is necessary that this preparation be more thorough.”
At the same time, Vladyka does not think that the preparation should be extremely lengthy – most importantly, it “must take into account the real interests and real needs of the Local Orthodox Churches,” which was not done during the preparation of the Cretan Council of 2016.