Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew is the first among equals and responsible for the promotion and protection of the unity of Orthodoxy
Orthodox Church of Constantinople is the oldest and “first in honor” in the family of Orthodox Churches. And its Primate, Patriarch Bartholomew, “first among equals” of all Orthodox patriarchs. Despite this, the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew is deeply conscious of its role and responsibility as protector and mediator of the unity of Orthodoxy.
As “first among equals” in the family of Autocephalous Churches, the Patriarch is calling and responsibility to direct their brothers of the primates. But this is no easy task. The modern world is full of problems, concerning also and Autocephalous Churches. Even in times of great pressure, the Patriarch never left the role of arbiter and unifier of world Orthodoxy.
Thus, Patriarch Bartholomew revived Autocephalous Church of Albania, has restored the autonomy of the Church of Estonia and entered the Church of the Czech lands and Slovakia in the family of Orthodox Churches. In addition, the Ecumenical Patriarch also founded the Synaxis of the primates, who became the first meeting of the heads of the Orthodox Churches for informal discussions.
But the biggest event was the Holy and Great pan-Orthodox Council. Today, the Orthodox Church recognizes seven Ecumenical Councils, the last of them took place in VIII century. Thus, convened by Patriarch Bartholomew pan-Orthodox Council was the first in more than a thousand years. First of all the Orthodox Churches agreed to meet to formulate a joint message to the modern world concerning the major societal challenges and to discuss common problems.
Initially the venue of the Cathedral was the Church of St. Irene in Istanbul. However, at the request of the ROC, given the worsening of Russian-Turkish relations, holding of the Cathedral was moved to.Crete. And later, at the last moment, the Russian Orthodox Church persuaded not to participate in the Cathedral four of the 14 Autocephalous Orthodox Churches: Antonescu (Syrian), Bulgarian, Georgian and Russian.
And yet, despite Moscow’s opposition, more than three hundred and fifty bishops, priests and advisors from every corner of the planet met on the Greek island of Crete for fraternal dialogue and, in the end, the triumph of unity in Christ.