[Blog] A New Religious “Cold War”?

BATAK CENTER FOR EUROPEAN STUDIES -- In March 2014, at the time of Russia’s takeover of Crimea, a largely unnoticed meeting took place in Istanbul. The heads of the Eastern Orthodox churches convened under the leadership of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, the Istanbul-based primus inter pares of the Eastern Orthodox world, and announced that in 2016 it would hold the Holy and Great Synod of the Orthodox Church.

The announcement was unexpected. Talk of a Synod, a grand summit of the various Orthodox Christian churches, dates back to the 1920s. However, the last two decades have seen constant jurisdictional tension between Orthodox churches, particularly between the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Russian Orthodox Church. The very presence of the Russian Patriarch in Istanbul was surprising, and a sign that the churches were working toward alleviating their disputes.

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