With one stroke of the pen,as it were,the Patriarchate of Alexandria has opened up new vocational vistas for Orthodox Christian women;confirmed the validity of the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church;affirmed the sovereign power of the local Church over its own affairs;and endorsed the continuation along the ecumenical path established by the Ecumenical Patriarchate in the twentieth century.Consider these excerpts from the official account of this Church's recent Holy Synod meeting presided by His Beatitude Pope and Patriarch Theodoros II of Alexandria and All Africa:
The Holy Synod of the Alexandrian Throne met from 15-17 November at the Holy Patriarchal Centre of Alexandria.
The Alexandrian Patriarchate #8211 18/11/16
1.We express glory and praise to the Triune God,who deemed us worthy to participate in the Holy and Great Synod of the Orthodox Church last June.
2.The Synod in Crete was an extremely important event for the course of the Orthodox Church as it gave testimony of unity,testimony of responsibility and anxiety for the contemporary world.It was,is and will remain as a great miracle of "meeting and coexisting for this" for the Orthodox Churches and we believe that this new experience will gradually be decoded and will yield new fruits in the Orthodox world.Blessed are they who will taste of this fruit!
3.It confirmed that conciliarity is the pre-eminent expression of the ecclesiological consciousness of the Orthodox Church and at the same time is a dynamic response to the ardent preachers of introversion,exclusivity,racial prejudice and fundamentalism.We believe that in the near future,at the Synods which God willing will follow,imperfection and weaknesses of this Synod will be overcome.
4.We wholeheartedly thank the Most Holy President of the Great and Holy Synod,Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomaios,their Beatitudes the Primates and all who worked tirelessly for the realisation of the Synod amidst many adversities and challenges.
5.We consider as particularly important the conciliar consolidation of the ecclesiastical dispensation amidst various extremist and conservative positions,as opportunity is given to local churches to exercise their pastoral work in real time and in the particular sites and conditions.However,with regret we found that,despite the prophetic voices which were heard in the Synod and those during the pre-Synodal conferences,timidity and reluctance to understand "deviations" from earlier settings of the life of the Church as accuracy and not as dispensation,although this would have been the true affirmation of the mystery of Christ's incarnation today,in other words the living and salvific Revelation of God.The differing approaches to life in the Church are no deviations for us from Orthodox truth,but adaptation to African reality.
6.The Church of Africa will continue to participate actively in all the official inter-Christian and inter-religious dialogues,despite whichever difficulties and problems which arise from time to time.Besides our participation in the World Council of Churches,we are upgrading our activity in the Pan-African Council of Churches.At every moment we should humbly submit our testimony of the Orthodox faith,the fullness of Orthodox revelation which our Church preserves.Walking in the footsteps of Jesus,we must become instruments of reconciliation and to cultivate the peaceful coexistence of people,respecting and defending their national,racial and religious diversity.Together with the other Churches and Religions,we are called to work towards combating every systemic injustice,anything demonic,in whatever form it appears,which nullifies the lives of the critically injured and bleeding in our flock.
7.We feel that as a living and dynamic Church,we are emerging from within a growing and long-suffering world,we have a duty with courage and prophetic vision to formulate within ourselves the conditions for recruitment and the transformation of our world,and to place a proposition for hope,and life throughout it for all people,as well as resurrectional joy.We ask for the fervent prayers of the Body of our Church,clergy and laity,so that with the cooperation of everyone to build on the momentum of the Great Synod and to liberate those powers that will show the Church of Africa to be a prophetic presence,fearing the Lord and always open to the surprising action of the Most Holy Spirit.*
Fasting in African reality:As far as the issue of fasting is concerned,the decisions of the Synod will be announced to all the people in the jurisdiction of the Patriarchate shortly,by Patriarchal Encyclicals.*
Regarding the issue of the institution of Deaconesses,it was decided to revive this and a tripartite committee of Hierarchs was appointed for a detailed consideration of the subject.