Dear Fr. Raphael,
The ecclesiology of ROCOR is plain enough, my question was about the ecclesiology of the statement of the Greek Orthodox Patriarch, with which it would seem ROCOR is in disagreement. Interesting though these cultural differences are, they don't get to the heart of my question - but such discussions rarely do. I guess the answer is embedded in the mindset, which is as it should be, no doubt.
I still get the feeling I'm missing something!
But if we're asking why the difference between the Joint Statement & ROCOR's position this comes down to Orthodox ecclesiology where each church with its synod of bishops is free to determine such matters.
In practice however a priest would always consult his diocesan bishop unless he was confident he already knew how his bishop would have directed him.
I'm guessing however that this kind of ecclesiology would be disorienting for someone coming from outside of Orthodoxy where there may be more administrative centralization.
For us we share fundamentals concerning the Faith but yet a large degree of discretion in how we implement this. So there are real variations from church to church, jurisdiction to jurisdiction, diocese to diocese and also parish to parish. The more fundamental something is the less variation, and the less fundamental the more variation. Some of what constitutes being fundamental or not is understood from direct episcopal direction & synodal decisions, but other things are understood simply from an awareness of how the life of the Church is implemented throughout the Church. In time between straight forward following direction from your bishop and a sensitivity to what is 'going on' in the Church one develops an almost instinctual sense for what is proper wherever one finds oneself within the Church.
Again it probably all looks very chaotic and even contradictory to someone not Orthodox but once you live with it for awhile you adjust, see how it actually all works and see its wisdom.
More importantly however you recognize how this is a faithful reflection of an Orthodox ecclesiology where the delicate balance between discernment and obedience must always be allowed for. Standing back and looking at the forest for the trees it can seem contradictory. But you gradually learn that the differences in implementation are really an overall check & balance, guided by the Holy Spirit, which prevents extremes & maintains an overall sense of balance.
I'm open though to trying to answer any questions you may have about this.
In Christ- Fr Raphael