Q: Can you give us some highlights or stories from the council?
A: For me, the most obvious highlight was observing the bishops (25 from each church) speaking openly and honestly to one another, learning about their respective circumstances and contexts. On several occasions, I heard bishops saying: “I had no idea this was happening in Nigeria (or Albania, or Poland).”
One consequence of the walls of estrangement that existed between the various churches was that each of them developed ”” or responded to the modern demands of the West ”” at a different pace. Where, for example, we are quite accustomed to seeing images of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew working closely with the pope for many years, other churches (such as Bulgaria and Georgia) have struggled to communicate or cooperate with any Christian church whatsoever, withdrawing from the World Council of Churches in recent years. The same is true of the Patriarchate of Moscow, whose primate Patriarch Kirill met with Pope Francis earlier this year, only to return to a church protesting (even threatening schism) over his “heretical” flirting with the Vatican.
So this sort of uneven evolution required a council to establish some fundamental guidelines for the Orthodox Churches.