Orthodox Church Administration Through Synodality: A Historical Perspective


The practice of synodality in the Orthodox Church, as described by the Apostolic Canons and the canons of the First Ecumenical Council, has been the cornerstone of its administration throughout the centuries.

While the frequency and structure of synods may vary among local autocephalous Churches, this ancient tradition has endured to the present day.

Historical Exceptions

Acknowledging that history has seen certain deviations from this traditional model, Job, a representative of the Orthodox Church, highlighted specific instances.

One notable exception has been the involvement of the laity in synodal decision-making on particular occasions.

Additionally, the Church of Cyprus stands as an outlier, where the laity participate in the initial stages of the bishop election process.

Church of Cyprus: An Exception

However, the Church of Cyprus represents a unique case in contemporary Orthodoxy, as it allows for the inclusion of the laity in synodal affairs.

This differs from the broader practice, where synodality primarily involves an assembly of bishops.

Even during the 2016 synod of the Orthodox Church in Crete, where 62 advisers, including clergy, monks, and laity, were present, they were not granted the right to speak or vote.

Discussion at the Synod

Job’s presentation on synodality was part of a broader discussion at the synod. Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich introduced the next round of deliberations, setting the stage for further conversations.

Spiritual and Theological Reflections

The morning session also included spiritual and theological reflections.

Father Timothy Radcliffe, OP, provided a spiritual perspective, while British theologian Anna Rowlands offered a theological insight into the matters under consideration.

Hannah Brockhaus, Catholic News Agency’s senior Rome correspondent, reported on these proceedings. With her roots in Omaha, Nebraska, she holds a degree in English from Truman State University in Missouri.

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