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SOUTH CANAAN, PA — On Sept. 29 and 30, 2016, Dr. David and Dr. Mary Ford represented St. Tikhon’s Seminary in attending the annual meeting of Orthodox Theological Society of America (OTSA), held at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology, in Brookline, Mass.  The theme of the conference was “Conciliarity and the Council of Crete.”

“It was a very good experience to be at the meeting,” Dr. David Ford said, “where several interesting first-hand reports were given about the recent council in Crete.  The keynote address was given by Dr. Elizabeth Perdromou, a trained political scientist, on some of the geo-political realities that inevitably influenced that council and the various back-stories behind it.”

Dr. David gave a talk at the conference entitled “St. Photios the Great, the Photian Council, and Relations with the Roman Church,” in which he recounted the enthralling story of the high-level controversy between St. Photios the Great and Pope Nicholas I of Rome in the 860s, when Nicholas attempted to declare who was the legitimate patriarch of Constantinople — Photios, or his predecessor Ignatius, who had resigned.  In addition to solving this controversy, the Photian Council of 879-880, which was accepted by the Papacy for the next 200 years, outlawed any changes to the Nicene Creed, thus forbidding the Filioque clause added to the Creed in the West; and it also repudiated Roman claims to have jurisdiction over the Eastern Churches.  

“A number of Orthodox theologians have emphasized the ecumenical authority of the Photian Council of 879-880,” Dr. David observed. “In fact, I began my talk with a quote written in 1996 by Alexander Golitzin, now His Grace Bishop Alexander of the South and the Bulgarian Diocese of the OCA: ‘Given the convocation of another ecumenical council, the Orthodox Church would almost certainly recognize the synod of 879 as the Eighth Ecumenical.'”

Dr. David’s talk proceeded to make a case for the Photian Council to be recognized as the Eighth Ecumenical Council — with the Palamite Councils of 1341-1351 then being recognized as the Ninth Ecumenical Council.  

“This would make it even more clear to everyone that the Orthodox Church will never recognize any change to the Nicene Creed, and will never allow Papal authority over Her; and that She holds the crucial distinction between God’s Essence and His Energies, which was articulated and proclaimed in the Palamite Councils, at the level of unchanging, dogmatic, eternal Truth,” Dr. David concluded.