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  1. Second Council of Constantinople – 553 A.D. Council Fathers - 553 A.D. Introduction The emperor Justinian and Pope Vigilius decided to summon this council after the latter withdrew his “Judgment” condemning the “Three Chapters” of Theodore of Mopsuestia, Theodoret and Ibas. This “Judgment” had been issued on 11 April 548 but the bishops of the west and especially of Africa unanimously opposed it. The council was summoned by Justinian to Constantinople, although Vigilius would have preferred to convene it in Sicily or Italy so that western bishops might be present. It assembled on 5 May 553 in the great hall attached to Hagia Sophia cathedral. Since the Roman pontiff refused to take part in the council, because Justinian had summoned bishops in equal numbers from each of the five patriarchal sees, so that there would be many more eastern than western bishops present, Eutychius, patriarch of Constantinople, presided. The decrees of the council were signed by 160 bishops, of whom 8 were Africans. On 14 May 553 Pope Vigilius issued his “Constitution”, which was signed by 16 bishops (9 from Italy, 2 from Africa, 2 from Illyricum and 3 from Asia Minor). This rejected sixty propositions of Theodore of Mopsuestia, but spared his personal memory and refused to condemn either Theodoret or Ibas since, on the testimony of the council of Chalcedon, all suspicion of heresy against them had been removed. Nevertheless, the council in its 8th session on 2 June 553 again condemned the “Three Chapters”, for the same reasons as Justinian had done so, in a judgment which concludes with 14 anathemas. After carefully considering the matter for six months, Vigilius ,weighing up the persecutions of Justinian against his clergy and having sent a letter to Eutychius of Constantinople, approved the council, thus changing his mind “after the example of Augustine”. Furthermore he anathematized Theodore and condemned his writings and those of Theodoret and Ibas. On 23 February 554, in a second “Constitution”, he tried to reconcile the recent condemnation with what had been decreed at the council of Chalcedon. The council did not debate ecclesiastical discipline nor did it issue disciplinary canons. Our edition does not include the text of the anathemas against Origen since recent studies have shown that these anathemas cannot be attributed to this council. For the 14 anathemas (pp. 114-122) the translation is from the Greek text, since this is the more authoritative version. Sentence against the “Three Chapters” Our great God and saviour Jesus Christ, as we are told in the parable in the gospel, gives talents to each one according to his ability, and at the proper time asks for an account of what has been done by each one. If the person to whom only one talent has been given is condemned because he has not worked and increased it, but has only preserved it without diminishment, how much more serious and more frightening must be the condemnation to which the person is subjected who not only fails to look after himself but scandalizes others and is a cause of offence to them ? It is clear to all believers that when a problem about the faith comes up it is not only the heretical person who is condemned but also the person who is in a position to correct the heresy of others and fails to do so. To those of us to whom the task has been given of governing the church of the Lord, there comes a fear of the condemnation which threatens those who neglect to do the Lord’s work. We hurry to take care of the good seed of faith protecting it from the weeds of heresy which have been planted by the enemy. We observed that the pupils of Nestorius were trying to bring their heresy into the church of God by means of the heretical Theodore, bishop of Mopsuestia and his books as also by the writings of the heretical Theodoret and the disgraceful letter which is alleged to have been sent by Ibas to Mari the Persian. Our observations prompted us to correct what was happening. We assembled in this imperial city, summoned here by the will of God and the command of the most religious emperor. The most religious Vigilius happened to be present in this imperial city and took part in all the criticisms against the three chapters. He had frequently condemned them by word of mouth and in his writings. Later he gave a written agreement to take part in our council and to study with us the three chapters so that we could all issue an appropriate definition of the true faith. The most pious emperor, prompted by what was acceptable to us, encouraged a meeting between Vigilius and ourselves because it is proper that the priesthood should impose a common conclusion to matters of common concern. Consequently we asked his reverence to carry out his written undertakings. It did not seem right that the scandal over these three chapters should continue and that the church of God should be further disturbed. In order to persuade him, we reminded him of the great example left us by the apostles and of the traditions of the fathers. Even though the grace of the holy Spirit was abundant in each of the apostles, so that none of them required the advice of another in order to do his work, nevertheless they were loathe to come to a decision on the issue of the circumcision of gentiles until they had met together to test their various opinions against the witness of the holy scriptures. In this way they unanimously reached the conclusion which they wrote to the gentiles: It has seemed good to the holy Spirit and to us to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things; that you abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols and from blood and from what is strangled and from unchastity. The holy fathers, who have gathered at intervals in the four holy councils, have followed the examples of antiquity. They dealt with heresies and current problems by debate in common, since it was established as certain that when the disputed question is set out by each side in communal discussions, the light of truth drives out the shadows of lying. The truth cannot be made clear in any other way when there are debates about questions of faith, since everyone requires the assistance of his neighbour. As Solomon says in his proverbs: A brother who helps a brother shall be exalted like a strong city; he shall be as strong as a well-established kingdom. Again in Ecclesiastes he says: Two are better than one, for they have a good reward for their toil. And the Lord himself says: Amen I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them. Vigilius was frequently invited by us all, and most distinguished judges were sent to him by the most pious emperor. Eventually he promised to give judgment personally on the three chapters. When we heard this promise, we remembered the warning of the Apostle that each of us shall give an account of himself to God. We were afraid of the condemnation which threatens those who scandalize one of the least important, and of the much more serious one which threatens those who scandalize so very christian an emperor, the people and all the churches. We also remembered what was said by God to Paul: Do not be afraid, but speak, and do not be silent; for I am with you, and nobody shall be able to harm you. When we met together, therefore, we first of all briefly made a confession of the faith which our lord Jesus Christ true God, handed down to his holy apostles and by means of them to the holy churches, the same faith which those who afterwards were holy fathers and doctors handed down to the people entrusted to them. We confessed that we believe, protect and preach to the holy churches that confession of faith which was set out at greater length by the 318 holy fathers who met in council at Nicaea and handed down the holy doctrine or creed. The 150 who met in council at Constantinople also set out the same faith and made a confession of it and explained it. The 200 holy fathers who met in the first council of Ephesus agreed to the same faith. We follow also the definitions of the 630 who met in council at Chalcedon, regarding the same faith which they both followed and preached. We confessed that we held to be condemned and anathematized all those who had been previously condemned and anathematized by the catholic church and by the aforesaid four councils. When we had made this confession in this way, we made a start on the examination of the three chapters. First, we considered Theodore of Mopsuestia. When all the blasphemies in his works were exposed, we were astonished at God’s patience, that the tongue and mind which had formed such blasphemies were not straightaway burned up by divine fire. We would not even have allowed the official reader of these blasphemies to continue, such was our fear of the anger of God at even a rehearsal of them (since each blasphemy was worse than the one before in the extent of its heresy and shook to their foundation the minds of their listeners), if it had not been the case that those who revelled in these blasphemies seemed to us to require the humiliation which their exposure would bring upon them. All of us, angered by the blasphemies against God, burst into attacks and anathemas against Theodore, during and after the reading, as if he had been living and present there. We said: Lord, be favourable to us; not even the demons themselves have dared to speak such things against you. O his intolerable tongue! O the wickedness of the man ! O the proud hand he raised against his creator! This disgraceful man, who had made a promise to understand the scriptures, did not remember the words of the prophet Hosea: Woe to them, for they have strayed from me! They have become notorious because of their impiety towards me. They spoke evil things about me, and after they had considered them, they spoke even worse things against me. They will fall into a trap because of the depravity of their tongues. Their contempt will be turned inwards on themselves, because they have broken my covenant and acted impiously against my law. The impious Theodore deserves to come under these curses. He dismissed the prophecies about Christ and he vilified, as far as he could, the great mystery of the arrangements that have been made for our salvation. In many ways he tried to demonstrate that the divine word was nothing but fables composed for the amusement of the gentiles. He ridiculed the other condemnations of the impious made by the prophets, especially the one in which holy Habakkuk says of those who teach false doctrines: Woe to him who makes his neighbours drink of the cup of his wrath, and makes them drunk, to gaze on their caverns. This refers to their teachings which are full of darkness and quite separate from the light. Why ought we to add anything more? Anyone who wishes can consult the volumes of the heretical Theodore or the heretical chapters from his heretical books which have been included in our acts. Anyone can see his unbelievable folly and the disgraceful utterances made by him. We fear to continue and to rehearse again those shameful things. The writings of the holy fathers against him were also read out to us. We heard what had been written against his folly which was more than all the other heretics, and the historical records and imperial laws which set out his heresy from its beginning. Despite all this, those who defended his heresy, delighting in the insults offered by him to his creator, declared that it was improper to anathematize him after his death. Although we were aware of the ecclesiastical tradition concerning heretics, that they are anathematized even after death, we deemed it necessary to go into this matter as well and it can be found in the acts how several heretics were anathematized after they were dead. In many ways it has become clear to us that those who put forward this argument have no concern for God’s judgments, nor for the pronouncements of the apostles, nor for the traditions of the fathers. We would willingly question them concerning what they would say about the Lord, who said of himself: He who believes in him is not condemned, he who does not believe in him is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only-begotten Son of God. And about that claim of the Apostle: Even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what you have received, let him be accursed. As we said earlier, I repeat once more: If anyone preaches to you a gospel contrary to what you have received, let him be accursed. Since the Lord declares that the person is judged already, and the Apostle curses even the angels if they instruct in anything different from what we have preached, how is it possible even for the most presumptuous to assert that these condemnations apply only to those who are still alive? Are they unaware, or rather pretending to be unaware, that to be judged anathematized is just the same as to be separated from God? The heretic, even though he has not been condemned formally by any individual, in reality brings anathema on himself, having cut himself off from the way of truth by his heresy. What reply can such people make to the Apostle when he writes: As for someone who is factious, after admonishing him once or twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is perverted and sinful; he is self-condemned. It was in the spirit of this text that Cyril of holy memory, in the books which he wrote against Theodore, declared as follows: “Whether or not they are alive, we ought to keep clear of those who are in the grip of such dreadful errors. It is necessary always to avoid what is harmful, and not to be worried about public opinion but rather to consider what is pleasing to God”. The same Cyril of holy memory, writing to bishop John of Antioch and to the synod which met there about Theodore who was condemned with Nestorius, says, “It was necessary that a brilliant festival should be kept since all those who had expressed opinions in accordance with Nestorius had been rejected, whoever they were. Action was taken against all those who believed, or had at any time believed, in these mistaken views. This is exactly what we and your holiness pronounced: ‘We anathematize those who assert that there exist two sons and two Christs. He who is preached by you and us is, as was said, the single Christ, both Son and Lord, the only-begotten as man, as learned Paul says'”. Moreover in his letter to the priests and fathers of monks, Alexander, Martinian, John, Paregorious and Maximus, and to those who were living as solitaries along with them, he says: “The holy synod of Ephesus, meeting in accordance with the will of God, has pronounced sentence against the heresy of Nestorius and has condemned according to justice and with accuracy both Nestorius himself and all those who might later, in inane fashion, adopt the same opinions as he held, and those who had previously adhered to the same opinions and who were bold enough to put them in writing, placing upon them all an equal condemnation. It was quite logical that when a condemnation was issued against one person for such stupidity in what he said, then that condemnation should apply not only to that person alone but also, so to speak, against all those who spread the heresies and untruths. They express these falsehoods against the true dogmas of the church, offering worship to two sons, trying to divide what cannot be divided, and introducing to both heaven and earth the offence of the worship of man. But the sacred band of heavenly spirits worship along with us only one lord Jesus Christ”. Moreover, several letters of Augustine of sacred memory, who was particularly outstanding among the African bishops, were read in which he indicates that it is correct to condemn heretics even after their death. Other most reverend bishops of Africa have also observed this church custom; moreover the holy church of Rome has issued anathemas against certain bishops even after they were dead, although they had not been accused on matters of faith while they were alive; the acts of our deliberations bear witness to both these cases. Since the followers of Theodore and his heresy, who are plainly opposed to the truth, have tried to adduce some sections of the writings of Cyril and Proclus of holy memory, as though these were in favour of Theodore, it is appropriate to apply to these attempts the observation of the prophet when he writes: The ways of the Lord are right, and the upright walk in them, but transgressors stumble in them. These followers have willfully misunderstood what the holy fathers wrote, even though it was true and appropriate; they have quoted these writings, dissembling excuses for their own iniquities. It seems that the fathers did not lift the anathema against Theodore but rather used the language of concession in order to lead away from their mistake those who offered some defence of Nestorius and his heresy; their aim was to lead them to perfection and to instruct them that not only was Nestorius, the disciple of heresy, condemned but also his teacher Theodore. The fathers indicate their intention in this matter despite the conciliatory forms used: Theodore was to be anathematized. This has been very clearly shown to be the case by us in our acts from the works of Cyril and Proclus of blessed memory in respect of the condemnation of Theodore and his heresy. This conciliatory attitude is also to be found in the holy scriptures. The apostle Paul employed this tactic at the start of his ministry when he was dealing with those who had been Jews; he circumcised Timothy so that by this conciliation and concession he might lead them to perfection. Afterwards, however, he ruled against circumcision, writing on the subject to the Galatians: Now I Paul say to you that if you receive circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. We found that the defenders of Theodore have done exactly what the heretics were accustomed to do. They have tried to lift the anathema on the said heretical Theodore by omitting some of the things which the holy fathers had written, by including certain confusing falsehoods of their own, and by quoting a letter of Cyril of blessed memory, as if all this were the evidence of the fathers. The passages which they quoted made the truth absolutely clear once the omitted sections were put back in their proper place. The falsehoods were quite apparent when the true writings were collated. In this matter those who issued these empty statements are those who, in the words of scripture, rely on lies, they make empty pleas; they conceive mischief and bring forth iniquity, they weave the spider’s web. After we had investigated in this way Theodore and his heresy, we took the trouble to quote and include in our acts a few of Theodoret’s heretical writings against true faith, against the twelve chapters of holy Cyril and against the first synod of Ephesus. We also included some of Theodoret’s writings on the side of the heretical Theodore and Nestorius so that it would be made clear, to the satisfaction of anyone reading our acts, that these opinions had been properly rejected and anathematized. Thirdly, the letter which is alleged to have been written by Ibas to Mari the Persian was brought under scrutiny and we discovered that it too ought to be officially read out. When the letter was read out, its heretical character was immediately apparent to everyone. Until this time there had been some dispute as to whether the aforesaid three chapters ought to be condemned and anathematized. Since the supporters of the heretics Theodore and Nestorius were conspiring to strengthen in another way the case of these men and their heresy, and were alleging that this heretical letter, which approves and defends Theodore and Nestorius, had been accepted by the holy council of Chalcedon, it was therefore necessary for us to demonstrate that that holy synod was unaffected by the heresy which is present in that letter, and that clearly those who make such allegations are doing so not with the assistance of the holy council but so as to give some support to their own heresy by associating it with the name of Chalcedon. It was demonstrated in our acts that Ibas was previously accused of the same heresy which is contained in this letter. This accusation was levelled first by Proclus of holy memory, bishop of Constantinople, and afterwards by Theodosius of blessed memory and Flavian, the bishop there after Proclus, both of whom gave the task of examining the whole matter to Photius, bishop of Tyre, and to Eustathius, bishop of the city of Beirut. When Ibas was later found to be blameworthy, he was deposed from the episcopate. This being the state of affairs, how could anyone be so bold as to allege that that heretical letter was accepted by the holy council of Chalcedon or that the holy council of Chalcedon agreed with it in its entirety? So as to prevent those who misrepresent the holy council of Chalcedon in this way from having any further opportunity to do so we instructed that there should be a formal reading of the official pronouncements of the holy synods, namely the first of Ephesus and that of Chalcedon, on the subject of the letters of Cyril of holy memory and of Leo of blessed memory, formerly pope of older Rome. We gathered from these authorities that nothing which has been written by anyone ought to be accepted unless it has been shown conclusively that it is in accord with the true faith of the holy fathers. Therefore we broke off from our deliberations so as to reiterate in a formal declaration the definition of faith which was promulgated by the holy council of Chalcedon. We compared what was written in the letter with this official statement. When this comparison was made, it was quite apparent that the contents of the letter were quite contradictory to those of the definition of faith. The definition was in accord with the unique, permanent faith set out by the 318 holy fathers, and by the 150, and by those who gathered for the first council at Ephesus. The heretical letter, on the other hand, included the blasphemies of the heretical Theodore and Nestorius and even gave support to them and describes them as doctors, while it condemns the holy fathers as heretics. We make it quite clear to everyone that we do not intend to omit what the fathers had to say in the first and second investigations, which are adduced by the supporters of Theodore and Nestorius in support of their case. Rather these statements and all the others were formally read out and what they contained was submitted to official scrutiny, and we found that they had not allowed the said Ibas to be accepted until they had obliged him to anathematize Nestorius and his heretical doctrines which were affirmed in that letter. This was the view not only of the two bishops whose interventions some have tried to misapply but also of the other religious bishops of that holy council. They also acted thus in the case of Theodoret and insisted that he anathematize those opinions about which he was accused. If they would permit the acceptance of Ibas only if he condemned the heresy which was to be found in his letter, and on condition that he subscribed to a definition of faith set out by the council, how can an attempt be made to allege that this heretical letter was accepted by the same holy council? We are rightly told: What partnership has righteousness with iniquity? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? What participation has the temple of God with idols? Now that we have given the details of what our council has achieved, we repeat our formal confession that we accept the four holy synods, that is, of Nicaea, of Constantinople, the first of Ephesus, and of Chalcedon. Our teaching is and has been all that they have defined concerning the one faith. We consider those who do not respect these things as foreign to the catholic church. Furthermore, we condemn and anathematize, along with all other heretics who have been condemned and anathematized by the same four holy councils and by the holy, catholic and apostolic church, Theodore, formerly bishop of Mopsuestia, and his heretical writings, and also what Theodoret heretically wrote against the true faith, against the twelve chapters of holy Cyril and against the first synod of Ephesus, and we condemn also what he wrote defending Theodore and Nestorius. Additionally, we anathematize the heretical letter which Ibas is alleged to have written to Mari the Persian. This letter denies that God the Word was made incarnate of the ever virgin Mary, the holy mother of God, and that he was made man. It also condemns as a heretic Cyril of holy memory, who taught the truth, and suggests that he held the same opinions as Apollinarius. The letter condemns the first synod of Ephesus for deposing Nestorius without proper process and investigation. It calls the twelve chapters of holy Cyril heretical and contrary to the orthodox faith, while it supports Theodore and Nestorius and their heretical teachings and writings. Consequently we anathematize the aforesaid three chapters, that is, the heretical Theodore of Mopsuestia along with his detestable writings, and the heretical writings of Theodoret, and the heretical letter which Ibas is alleged to have written. We anathematize the supporters of these works and those who write or have written in defence of them, or who are bold enough to claim that they are orthodox, or who have defended or tried to defend their heresy in the names of holy fathers or of the holy council of Chalcedon. These matters having been treated with thorough-going exactness, we bear in mind what was promised about the holy church and him who said that the gates of hell will not prevail against it (by these we understand the death-dealing tongues of heretics); we also bear in mind what was prophesied about the church by Hosea when he said, I shall betroth you to me in faithfulness and you shall know the Lord; and we count along with the devil, the father of lies, the uncontrolled tongues of heretics and their heretical writings, together with the heretics themselves who have persisted in their heresy even to death. So we declare to them: Behold all you who kindle a fire, who set brands alight! Walk by the light of your fire, and by the brands which you have kindled! Since we are under command to encourage the people with orthodox teaching and to speak to the heart of Jerusalem, that is the church of God, we very properly hurry to sow in righteousness and to reap the fruit of life. In doing this we are lighting for ourselves the lamp of knowledge from the scriptures and the teachings of the fathers. It has therefore seemed necessary to us to sum up in certain statements both our declarations of the truth and our condemnations of heretics and their heretical teachings. Anathemas against the “Three Chapters” If anyone will not confess that the Father, Son and holy Spirit have one nature or substance, that they have one power and authority, that there is a consubstantial Trinity, one Deity to be adored in three subsistences or persons: let him be anathema. There is only one God and Father, from whom all things come, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things are, and one holy Spirit, in whom all things are. If anyone will not confess that the Word of God has two nativities, that which is before all ages from the Father, outside time and without a body, and secondly that nativity of these latter days when the Word of God came down from the heavens and was made flesh of holy and glorious Mary, mother of God and ever-virgin, and was born from her: let him be anathema. If anyone declares that the [Word] of God who works miracles is not identical with the Christ who suffered, or alleges that God the Word was with the Christ who was born of woman, or was in him in the way that one might be in another, but that our lord Jesus Christ was not one and the same, the Word of God incarnate and made man, and that the miracles and the sufferings which he voluntarily underwent in the flesh were not of the same person: let him be anathema. If anyone declares that it was only in respect of grace, or of principle of action, or of dignity or in respect of equality of honour, or in respect of authority, or of some relation, or of some affection or power that there was a unity made between the Word of God and the man, or if anyone alleges that it is in respect of good will, as if God the Word was pleased with the man, because he was well and properly disposed to God, as Theodore claims in his madness; or if anyone says that this union is only a sort of synonymity, as the Nestorians allege, who call the Word of God Jesus and Christ, and even designate the human separately by the names “Christ” and “Son”, discussing quite obviously two different persons, and only pretending to speak of one person and one Christ when the reference is to his title, honour, dignity or adoration; finally if anyone does not accept the teaching of the holy fathers that the union occurred of the Word of God with human flesh which is possessed by a rational and intellectual soul, and that this union is by synthesis or by person, and that therefore there is only one person, namely the lord Jesus Christ, one member of the holy Trinity: let him be anathema. The notion of “union” can be understood in many different ways. The supporters of the wickedness of Apollinarius and Eutyches have asserted that the union is produced by a confusing of the uniting elements, as they advocate the disappearance of the elements that unite. Those who follow Theodore and Nestorius, rejoicing in the division, have brought in a union which is only by affection. The holy church of God, rejecting the wickedness of both sorts of heresy, states her belief in a union between the Word of God and human flesh which is by synthesis, that is by a union of subsistence. In the mystery of Christ the union of synthesis not only conserves without confusing the elements that come together but also allows no division. If anyone understands by the single subsistence of our lord Jesus Christ that it covers the meaning of many subsistences, and by this argument tries to introduce into the mystery of Christ two subsistences or two persons, and having brought in two persons then talks of one person only in respect of dignity, honour or adoration, as both Theodore and Nestorius have written in their madness; if anyone falsely represents the holy synod of Chalcedon, making out that it accepted this heretical view by its terminology of “one subsistence”, and if he does not acknowledge that the Word of God is united with human flesh by subsistence, and that on account of this there is only one subsistence or one person, and that the holy synod of Chalcedon thus made a formal statement of belief in the single subsistence of our lord Jesus Christ: let him be anathema. There has been no addition of person or subsistence to the holy Trinity even after one of its members, God the Word, becoming human flesh. If anyone declares that it can be only inexactly and not truly said that the holy and glorious ever-virgin Mary is the mother of God, or says that she is so only in some relative way, considering that she bore a mere man and that God the Word was not made into human flesh in her, holding rather that the nativity of a man from her was referred, as they say, to God the Word as he was with the man who came into being; if anyone misrepresents the holy synod of Chalcedon, alleging that it claimed that the virgin was the mother of God only according to that heretical understanding which the blasphemous Theodore put forward; or if anyone says that she is the mother of a man or the Christ-bearer, that is the mother of Christ, suggesting that Christ is not God; and does not formally confess that she is properly and truly the mother of God, because he who before all ages was born of the Father, God the Word, has been made into human flesh in these latter days and has been born to her, and it was in this religious understanding that the holy synod of Chalcedon formally stated its belief that she was the mother of God: let him be anathema. If anyone, when speaking about the two natures, does not confess a belief in our one lord Jesus Christ, understood in both his divinity and his humanity, so as by this to signify a difference of natures of which an ineffable union has been made without confusion, in which neither the nature of the Word was changed into the nature of human flesh, nor was the nature of human flesh changed into that of the Word (each remained what it was by nature, even after the union, as this had been made in respect of subsistence); and if anyone understands the two natures in the mystery of Christ in the sense of a division into parts, or if he expresses his belief in the plural natures in the same lord Jesus Christ, God the Word made flesh, but does not consider the difference of those natures, of which he is composed, to be only in the onlooker’s mind, a difference which is not compromised by the union (for he is one from both and the two exist through the one) but uses the plurality to suggest that each nature is possessed separately and has a subsistence of its own: let him be anathema. If anyone confesses a belief that a union has been made out of the two natures divinity and humanity, or speaks about the one nature of God the Word made flesh, but does not understand these things according to what the fathers have taught, namely that from the divine and human natures a union was made according to subsistence, and that one Christ was formed, and from these expressions tries to introduce one nature or substance made of the deity and human flesh of Christ: let him be anathema. In saying that it was in respect of subsistence that the only-begotten God the Word was united, we are not alleging that there was a confusion made of each of the natures into one another, but rather that each of the two remained what it was, and in this way we understand that the Word was united to human flesh. So there is only one Christ, God and man, the same being consubstantial with the Father in respect of his divinity, and also consubstantial with us in respect of our humanity. Both those who divide or split up the mystery of the divine dispensation of Christ and those who introduce into that mystery some confusion are equally rejected and anathematized by the church of God. If anyone says that Christ is to be worshipped in his two natures, and by that wishes to introduce two adorations, a separate one for God the Word and another for the man; or if anyone, so as to remove the human flesh or to mix up the divinity and the humanity, monstrously invents one nature or substance brought together from the two, and so worships Christ, but not by a single adoration God the Word in human flesh along with his human flesh, as has been the tradition of the church from the beginning: let him be anathema. If anyone does not confess his belief that our lord Jesus Christ, who was crucified in his human flesh, is truly God and the Lord of glory and one of the members of the holy Trinity: let him be anathema. If anyone does not anathematize Arius, Eunomius, Macedonius, Apollinarius Nestorius, Eutyches and Origen, as well as their heretical books, and also all other heretics who have already been condemned and anathematized by the holy, catholic and apostolic church and by the four holy synods which have already been mentioned, and also all those who have thought or now think in the same way as the aforesaid heretics and who persist in their error even to death: let him be anathema. If anyone defends the heretical Theodore of Mopsuestia, who said that God the Word is one, while quite another is Christ, who was troubled by the passions of the soul and the desires of human flesh, was gradually separated from that which is inferior, and became better by his progress in good works, and could not be faulted in his way of life, and as a mere man was baptized in the name of the Father and the Son and the holy Spirit, and through this baptism received the grace of the holy Spirit and came to deserve sonship and to be adored, in the way that one adores a statue of the emperor, as if he were God the Word, and that he became after his resurrection immutable in his thoughts and entirely without sin. Furthermore this heretical Theodore claimed that the union of God the Word to Christ is rather like that which, according to the teaching of the Apostle, is between a man and his wife: The two shall become one. Among innumerable other blasphemies he dared to allege that, when after his resurrection the Lord breathed on his disciples and said, Receive the holy Spirit, he was not truly giving them the holy Spirit, but he breathed on them only as a sign. Similarly he claimed that Thomas’s profession of faith made when, after his resurrection, he touched the hands and side of the Lord, namely My Lord and my God, was not said about Christ, but that Thomas was in this way extolling God for raising up Christ and expressing his astonishment at the miracle of the resurrection. This Theodore makes a comparison which is even worse than this when, writing about the acts of the Apostles, he says that Christ was like Plato, Manichaeus, Epicurus and Marcion, alleging that just as each of these men arrived at his own teaching and then had his disciples called after him Platonists, Manichaeans, Epicureans and Marcionites, so Christ found his teaching and then had disciples who were called Christians. If anyone offers a defence for this more heretical Theodore, and his heretical books in which he throws up the aforesaid blasphemies and many other additional blasphemies against our great God and saviour Jesus Christ, and if anyone fails to anathematize him and his heretical books as well as all those who offer acceptance or defence to him, or who allege that his interpretation is correct, or who write on his behalf or on that of his heretical teachings, or who are or have been of the same way of thinking and persist until death in this error: let him be anathema. If anyone defends the heretical writings of Theodoret which were composed against the true faith, against the first holy synod of Ephesus and against holy Cyril and his Twelve Chapters, and also defends what Theodoret wrote to support the heretical Theodore and Nestorius and others who think in the same way as the aforesaid Theodore and Nestorius and accept them or their heresy and if anyone, because of them, shall accuse of being heretical the doctors of the church who have stated their belief in the union according to subsistence of God the Word; and if anyone does not anathematize these heretical books and those who have thought or now think in this way, and all those who have written against the true faith or against holy Cyril and his twelve chapters, and who persist in such heresy until they die: let him be anathema. If anyone defends the letter which Ibas is said to have written to Mari the Persian, which denies that God the Word, who became incarnate of Mary the holy mother of God and ever virgin, became man, but alleges that he was only a man born to her, whom it describes as a temple, as if God the Word was one and the man someone quite different; which condemns holy Cyril as if he were a heretic, when he gives the true teaching of Christians, and accuses holy Cyril of writing opinions like those of the heretical Apollinarius ;which rebukes the first holy synod of Ephesus, alleging that it condemned Nestorius without going into the matter by a formal examination; which claims that the twelve chapters of holy Cyril are heretical and opposed to the true faith; and which defends Theodore and Nestorius and their heretical teachings and books. If anyone defends the said letter and does not anathematize it and all those who offer a defence for it and allege that it or a part of it is correct, or if anyone defends those who have written or shall write in support of it or the heresies contained in it, or supports those who are bold enough to defend it or its heresies in the name of the holy fathers of the holy synod of Chalcedon, and persists in these errors until his death: let him be anathema. Such then are the assertions we confess. We have received them from holy Scripture, from the teaching of the holy fathers, and from the definitions about the one and the same faith made by the aforesaid four holy synods. Moreover, condemnation has been passed by us against the heretics and their impiety, and also against those who have justified or shall justify the so-called “Three Chapters”, and against those who have persisted or will persist in their own error. If anyone should attempt to hand on, or to teach by word or writing, anything contrary to what we have regulated, then if he is a bishop or somebody appointed to the clergy, in so far as he is acting contrary to what befits priests and the ecclesiastical status, let him be stripped of the rank of priest or cleric, and if he is a monk or lay person, let him be anathema. Introduction and translation taken from Decrees of the Ecumenical Councils, ed. Norman P. Tanner https://www.papalencyclicals.net/councils/ecum05.htm
  2. Met. Chrysostomos of Dodoni (right) with Pat. Bartholomew (left) Several Moscow Patriarchate hierarchs and clergy went on pilgrimage recently to the Greek Ionian Islands, where they had a chance to meet with the Greek hierarchs of Zakynthos and Dodoni and to discuss current Orthodox events. During the course of the conversation, His Eminence Metropolitan Chrysostomos of Dodoni expressed his views on the Ukrainian issue, revealing the influence of the Patriarchate of Constantinople’s particular understanding of the issue on certain hierarchs in the Greek Church. On Sunday, September 15, His Eminence Metropolitan Isidore of Smolensk and His Grace Bishop Seraphim of Bobruisk of the Belarusian Exarchate and two accompanying priests were warmly welcomed at the Monastery of Strofades and St. Dionysios in Zakynthos by His Eminence Metropolitan Dionysios II of Zakynthos and His Eminence Metropolitan Chrysostomos of Dodoni, formerly the hierarch of Zakynthos, reports nyxthimeron.com. After visiting the sepulchral church of St. Dionysius, the guests toured the ecclesiastical museum, exchanged gifts, and were served a rich meal, during which Met. Chrysostomos, who has served as a bishop since 1976, expressed his nostalgic love for the two former Patriarchs of Moscow, with whom he had close ties, as well as several other historical figures of the Russian Church. However, the metropolitan revealed another attitude towards the Russian Church when the guests broached the topic of the ongoing Ukrainian crisis. “With the boldness that distinguishes him, [he] pointed out that any problem could have been raised and solved at the Holy and Great Council of Crete (2016) if the Moscow Patriarchate had not refused, with various excuses, to attend, thereby sabotaging unanimity and unity, and even compelling other Churches. This is because Russia always has aspirations of being ‘Third Rome,’” nyxthimeron.com reports. Whether Met. Chrysostomos has simply grown fuzzy on the details in the years since the Council or whether he was intentionally distorting the timeline is unclear. The Bulgarian Orthodox Church announced on June 1, 2016 that it would not attend the Council; the Antiochian Church announced on June 6 that it would not attend; and the Georgian Orthodox Church announced on June 10 that it would not attend. Only after these three Churches had withdrawn did the Russian Church announce that it could not attend. Moreover, the Churches did not simply withdraw, but rather called for the council to be postponed so that their respective issues could be addressed. The Moscow Patriarchate specifically proposed holding an emergency pre-conciliar session for just this purpose, but Patriarch Bartholomew refused to do so, choosing instead to plow ahead with the council without full pan-Orthodox unity. While the Patriarchate of Constantinople blames the Russian Church for influencing the other Churches to withdraw, this has always remained groundless speculation, as are paranoid fears of a “Third Rome” ecclesiology. A position of respect for the other Local Churches allows them to speak for themselves, and each of the Churches expressed their own seriously-considered reasons for withdrawing from the Council. And despite Met. Chrysostomos’ contention, the Ukrainian issue would not have been addressed at Crete even had the Russian Church attended, as Pat. Bartholomew publicly acknowledged already in January of 2016 that it was not on the agenda. The official agenda for the Crete Council was published on January 28, and also did not include the topic of autocephaly and how to grant it. Pat. Bartholomew has referred to the fact that autocephaly was not dealt with at Crete to justify his claim to the right to grant autocephaly whenever to whomever, wherever. Meeting with the Russian hierarchs, the Metropolitan of Dodoni also stated that every nation has the right to self-determination and to Church autocephaly. Recall, however, that the Patriarchate of Constantinople claims large chunks of Greece for itself, thus there are two Local Churches operating within one nation. Met. Chrysostomos also noted that autocephaly is typically given by the Patriarchate of Constantinople, as was the case with Russia, Greece, Serbia, Romania, and Bulgaria. It should be noted, however, that those territories were within the jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Constantinople before they received autocephaly, whereas Ukraine has not been part of Constantinople for more than 300 years. Moreover, the Georgian Church received its ancient autocephaly from the Patriarchate of Antioch. Concerning the Russian clerics disquiet concerning “Patriarch” Philaret Denisenko, Met. Chrysostomos again insisted that everything could have been settled if not for the Russian Church’s efforts to “torpedo” any pan-Orthodox council. Recall that His Beatitude Patriarch John X of Antioch, and many other primates, hierarchs, and Synods, specifically called upon Pat. Bartholomew to summon a pan-Orthodox council to deal with the Ukrainian issue, and Pat. Bartholomew flatly refused, citing the failure of the Crete council. The Greek hierarch also criticized the Russian Church for ceasing Eucharistic communion with the Patriarchate of Constantinople, though reports did not mention if he detailed how he thinks a Church should respond to another Local Church non-canonically invading its territory and setting up schismatics as a new church. Met. Chrysostomos concluded with a very revealing remark, noting that the Church of Greece is of the same ethnicity and race as the Patriarchate of Constantinople, and thus it is inconceivable for it not to align itself with Constantinople. The Greek metropolitan is echoing the sentiment of Pat. Bartholomew and the Patriarchate of Constantinople with such remarks. Certain Greek and Ukrainian media outlets have repeatedly framed the Ukrainian issue as “Russia vs. Ukraine” or “Russia vs. Constantinople,” rather than considering it through the lens of Orthodoxy. In October of last year, Pat. Bartholomew himself declared that “Our Slavic brothers cannot tolerate the primacy of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and our nation in Orthodoxy,” and “Whether our Russian brothers like it or not, sooner or later, they will follow the decisions of the Ecumenical Patriarch, because they have no other choice.” A similar attitude was displayed recently when Metropolitan Ephraim of Hydra, Spetses, and Aegina threatened to canonically punish three clerics who had written a letter of support to His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine. Viewing the matter as one of ethnic enmity rather than one of holy Orthodoxy, the metropolitan interpreted their support for Met. Onuphry as a declaration of loyalty to the Moscow Patriarchate, rather than as the declaration of loyalty to the sacred canons of which they wrote. Such an attitude stands in stark contrast to that of many other hierarchs, including His Holiness Patriarch Irinej of the Serbian Orthodox Church, who recently spoke of how the Serbian Church is autocephalous and equal to all the other autocephalous Churches, as racial or ethnic superiority has no place in the Church of Christ. Greek hierarch: We are the same race as Constantinople, we must side with the Patriarchate ORTHOCHRISTIAN.COM Several Moscow Patriarchate hierarchs and clergy went on pilgrimage recently to the Greek Ionian Islands, where they had a chance to meet with the Greek hierarchs of Zakynthos and...
  3. The Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Constantinople unexpectedly decided to remove the exarchate status of the Archdiocese of Russian Churches in Western Europe, telling the parishes that they had to become part of the Patriarchate’s Greek metropolises. However, the clergy and faithful of the Archdiocese then overwhelmingly voted to remain together as an ecclesiastical body. They are actively considering several options for their future, the most likely being to join the Moscow Patriarchate, which has the backing of the Archdiocese’s hierarch, Archbishop John of Chariopoulis, though there are certainly those members who actively oppose returning to the Russian Church. On August 9, the parishes of the former Exarchate received two documents, one with a proposal from the Patriarchate of Constantinople, and the other with a proposal from the Moscow Patriarchate. The clergy and parishioners have until September 7 to consider the two proposals, when the Archdiocese’s next General Assembly will be held to take a vote, “either to preserve its identity, specificity, and traditions under the Patriarchal omophorion of Moscow,” or “to abandon the past, becoming a vicariate without a future,” Abp. John wrote in his address accompanying the letters, reports the Independent Gazette. The 24-page document from Constantinople is, “in fact, the same statutes that the parishes of the Russian tradition live by today, but with all the references to the Archdiocese as a territorial and legal entity replaced with ‘vicariate,’ with the addition of ‘the Gallic Orthodox Metropolis, in the canonical jurisdiction of the Constantinople (Ecumenical ) Patriarchate.” Whereas the statutes previously proclaimed the independence of the Exarchate, they now note that decisions can be made only with the “consultation” or “approval” of Metropolitan Emmanuel of Gaul. Metropolitan Emmanuel previously sent a letter with a proposal for the churches within his territory to become a vicariate to the priests of the Archdiocese. His letter stipulated the “the preservation of the existing association, which will continue to manage the property belonging to it, and to function according to its own statutes, probably with some necessary adaptations.” The new Constantinople letter makes clear that the “necessary adaptations” are to strip the Archdiocese of its former freedom, as Abp. John comments. Moreover, both Met. Emmanuel’s letter and the present proposal apply only to the churches in France. No offer has been made for the parishes throughout the rest of Western Europe. “We are not talking about the preservation of the Archdiocese, but only about the preservation of its French part,” Deacon Alexander Zanemonets explained to the Gazette. Noting that Abp. John would be able to take actions only with the consent of Met. Emmanuel, Dcn. Alexander commented that “the proposal of the Russian Orthodox Church should be considered both in the context of the Romanian refusal and in the context of this Constantinople option.” As Dcn. Alexander explained, the Romanian Patriarchate offered the Archdiocese to join it only temporarily, and required a canonical release from Constantinople. “But since the Archdiocese is no longer part of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, there cannot be any canonical release,” the clergyman explained. Meanwhile, as he notes, the Moscow Patriarchate’s latest offer “corresponds to what was originally discussed.” That is, His Holiness Patriarch Kirill’s winter letter and the final proposal are identical, with all the features of the entire Archdiocese being preserved, including the independence of the Archdiocese in all internal decisions. “That is, in fact, the only change is that the Patriarch of Moscow will be commemorated instead of the Patriarch of Constantinople, while the structure of the internal life of the Archdiocese remains the same,” Dcn. Alexander explained. And, importantly, the Moscow proposal allows the Archdiocese to quickly elect diocesan and vicar bishops. Abp. John’s age has been a point of concern for the Archdiocese, but there has been no hope of electing successor bishops under Constantinople. The Russian Church has even offered to amend its own statutes to accommodate the traditions of the Archdiocese of Russian Churches. http://orthochristian.com/123008.html?fbclid=IwAR3HtowjDzzE4_a-elqZ6iVnTD7ueCxwnDFDr0yrIRTnxJEbymxXBzW9lV4
  4. USA; Germany, March 6, 2019 Updated March 6, 6:45 PM with information about the St. Nicholas Church According to conditions laid out in the tomos of autocephaly given to the Ukrainian schismatic church by the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, all parishes outside of Ukraine itself are to be transferred to Constantinople’s jurisdiction. The tomos also stipulates that it is given on the basis of all the conditions mentioned therein. However, at least four parishes of the schismatic “Kiev Patriarchate” (KP) are violating the tomos, having declared that they will not join Constantinople but will remain with the so-called “Orthodox Church of Ukraine” (OCU) made up of the KP and the schismatic “Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church.” Meanwhile, the schismatic head, “Metropolitan” Epiphany Dumenko claimed in a recent interview that negotiations are already underway with foreign parishes and some are already read to transfer, though he did not name any specific parishes. He also said they will continue to negotiate with those parishes that are unwilling. The KP has parishes in Moldova, Greece, Australia, America, Canada, Russia, and throughout Europe. On Sunday, March 3, during a parish meeting, the community of Holy Trinity Church in Bridgeport, Connecticut made a unanimous decision to remain in the OCU, parish rector Oleksandr Dviniatin wrote on his Facebook page, reports the Union of Orthodox Journalists. He added that the parish will continue to commemorate “The primate of the OCU His Beatitude Metropolitan Epiphany and His Holiness Patriarch Philaret.” “Regarding the foreign parishes of the OCU: The tomos is not the Symbol of Faith [the Nicene Creed—O.C.]; take it as a typikon,” the rector also said. He also noted that in his 11 years of service in America, no representative of the Patriarchate of Constantinople ever invited them to a feast, although there is a parish 10 minutes away, and they never communicated with them except to ask for money. In the comments under Dviniatin’s announcement, another schismatic priest, Oleksij Holchuk of the Holy Ascension Church of the KP in Clifton, New Jersey, also said that his parish does not intend to switch to Constantinople. “Holy Ascension Church in Clifton, NJ is and will remain in the Ukrainian Church with its center in Kiev—the Local Orthodox Church of Ukraine. Our parish decided this many years ago. Nobody has the right to take people’s freedom away, including who to consider their primate,” Holchuk writes. St. Nicholas Church in Philadelphia has also made clear that it intends to remain with the OCU. The parish only joined the KP a few years ago after abandoning the Orthodox Church in America. According to the history given on the church’s website, the parish was officially proclaimed a stavropigia of the KP on June 27, 2017. According to the January 20th bulletin, “Patriarch” Philaret Denisenko personally signed a document reaffirming the parish’s stavropigial status on January 7, the day after the tomos of autocephaly was granted in Istanbul. The About Us page lists Philaret Denisenko and Epiphany Dumenko as their bishops, and every bulletin proudly proclaims the parish as a “Stavropigia of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine. The German dean of the KP in Cologne, Vladimir Chaika, also announced that this parish voted on February 17 to remain with the OCU. He has already reported this decision to the schismatic primate Epiphany Dumenko in a meeting with him. http://orthochristian.com/119744.html?fbclid=IwAR20ncSQhhOVSb5_YxreN2cAvFzBi-DTpWD_t4bYDQylhg0QKZ6OqjR2x30
  5. Debar, Republic of North Macedonia, February 22, 2019 The schismatics of the “Macedonian Orthodox Church” are still expecting to eventually receive a tomos of autocephaly from the Patriarchate of Constantinople, and, they even have more arguments in their favor for receiving autocephaly than does Ukraine, believes “Metropolitan” Timotej of Debar and Kičevo. “All of our expectations are that the Ecumenical Patriarchate will soon begin the process of recognizing the Macedonian Church,” the unrecognized hierarch said in a recent interview with mkd.mk. Another Macedonian hierarch, “Bishop” Petar of Prespa and Pelagonia earlier said he expects they will receive a tomos of autocephaly from Constantinople by the end of this year, saying they meet all the necessary requirements. At the same time, Timotej noted that there is no consensus in North Macedonian about whether they should recognize the newly-created Ukrainian schismatic church. For now, he says, the church prefers to remain restrained about this issue. There also is no consensus, he said, about whether or not to change the name of the church, which Patriarch Bartholomew has placed as a condition on granting autocephaly. However, Timotej is certain they will not change their name. “The Prespes Agreement does not oblige us to change our name. The church is not financed from the state budget. We will not change the name,” he said. The Prespes Agreement was signed between representatives of Greece and Macedonia on June 12 and went into effect on February 12, officially changing the former’s name to the Republic of Northern Macedonia, thus ending a long-standing dispute over the country’s former name, as Macedonia is also a region in northern Greece, and Greeks fiercely defend the name as belonging only to them. In September, Pat. Bartholomew declared that he would never recognize the church as long as it has the word “Macedonia” in its title. He also later declared that the Patriarchate would not grant autocephaly to the Macedonian church as its territory is, in fact, the canonical territory of the Serbian Orthodox Church, from which the Macedonian church schismed in 1967, despite the fact that in May he had declared that Constantinople would handle the Macedonian church issue “under the essential conditions of the observance of the historical-canonical powers and privileges of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.” Archpriest Nikolai Danilevich, Deputy Head of the Department for External Church Relations of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, noted the double standard at play between the Patriarchate’s actions in Ukraine and its latest stance towards Macedonia—interfering in the Ukrainian Church’s territory on the one hand, while refusing to interfere in the Serbian Church’s territory on the other. The Macedonian church reached out to the Bulgarian Orthodox Church in November 2017 for assistance in becoming a canonically-recognized autocephalous Church. The Bulgarian Church agreed to help, which greatly angered the Churches of Serbia and Greece, and also the Ecumenical Patriarchate. The Macedonian Church then appealed to the Ecumenical Patriarchate as well for the regularization of its canonical status, receiving various answers from them. http://orthochristian.com/119521.html?fbclid=IwAR3C6FTiLdq7PK3h2cexPppy6fZyF-fsrwidU19BfPV6NKVFuJP2SJcgJ8o
  6. Priest George Maximov The decision of Constantinople patriarch Bartholomew to intrude in Ukraine has caused huge upheavals in the entire Orthodox Church, and they haven’t ceased for many months now. The Orthodox of various countries are looking on in perplexity and horror as the primate of a respected Church suddenly proclaims as his own canonical territory what has for over 300 years been accepted by everyone without exception as part of another Local Church, and pronounces those whom the entire Orthodox Church has unanimously recognized as schismatics to be part of the canonical Church—at the same time threatening to pronounce as schismatics those who have been abiding in Eucharistic unity with all the Local Churches. Meanwhile, Patriarch Bartholomew as if doesn’t notice that his actions have set a flywheel in motion of government persecutions against the canonical Church of Ukraine. After all, the “received tomos” is one of the main points in the pre-election program of the current Ukrainian president, who wants to be elected for a second term this spring. So now the hierarchs of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church are being called to the carpet by secular officials who hand them letters from the Constantinople patriarch; priests are being taken in for “prophylactic talks” to the special services—the Ukrainian successor to the KGB—and monastics are being threatened with eviction from their monasteries. Patriarch Bartholomew calls his actions “granting autocephaly to Ukraine,” but at the same time two thirds of the Ukrainian Orthodox are parishioners of a Church that never asked him for autocephaly and refuses to accept it. Probably for the first time in history we are seeing a forced “granting of autocephaly”, which gives us pause to think about many things. Over the recent months, many articles and speeches have appeared from Local Churches criticizing the actions of the Constantinople Patriarchate. There have also been apologetic articles written by Constinople’s representatives, and the ensuing polemic basically plunges the reader into the thickets of history, where he is offered various interpretations of one or another combination of words from seventeenth century texts. These themes are undoubtedly also important, but we can imagine that it is much more important to look at what is happening in the broader context and understand what caused the current upheavals. For this we need to answer two questions. The first question: Are the current actions of the Constantinople Patriarchate in Ukraine something unprecedented? Patriarch Meletius IV (Metaxakis). Alas, no. The same invasion took place in Estonia in 1996, when Patriarch Bartholomew received those schismatics into communion. We will say right off that it would have been a mistake to look for an explanation of this action in the personality of this specific patriarch, because his predecessors made similar actions in the early 1920s, from the time of the ill-famed Patriarch Meletius IV (Metataksis). In 1923 he took over the parishes of the Russian Church in Finland and Estonia, subjecting them to his jurisdiction, and the next year his tore the diocese in Poland from the Russian Orthodox Church, self-willfully declaring it “autocephalous”. In 1936, the Constantinople patriarch proclaimed his jurisdiction in Latvia, five years earlier, against the will of the Russian Orthodox Church, included the Russian émigré parishes of Western Europe, turning them into his own exarchate (recently dissolved by Patriarch Bartholomew). We can’t help but note that these acts of intrusion and capture were perpetrated right during the time when the Orthodox Church in Russia was literally bleeding, enduring unprecedented persecutions from a godless regime. If the Communists confiscated churches and monasteries of the Russian Orthodox Church within the USSR, then the Constantinople Patriarch was doing this beyond its borders. But it would be wrong to say that similar actions have only been taken against the Russian Orthodox Church. In the 1920s, the Constantinople Patriarchate obtained from the Greek Church its cessation of ecclesiastical presence in the U.S. and Australia, in 1986 it manage to dissolve and swallow up the Alexandrian Church’s American exarchate, and very recently, in 2008, Patriarch Bartholomew forced the Jerusalem Church to give up its parishes in the U.S. and transfer them to the Constantinople jurisdiction. These actions did not always end in victory for Constintinople. For example, in 1931, Constantinople Patriarch Photius II tried unsuccessfully to transfer the Serbian parishes outside of Serbia to his jurisdiction. He wrote to Patriarch Barnabas: “All the Church communities located in the diaspora and outside the borders of the autocephalous Orthodox Churches, regardless of nationality, should be ecclesiastically subject to our Most Holy Patriarchal Throne.” But the Serbian Church did not give in to this demand, nor did the Romanian Church. If in the twentieth century the efforts of the Constantinople Patriarchs were mainly concentrated on subjecting the Orthodox diaspora to itself, then in the twenty-first century their expansion has reached into the territory of the autocephalous Churches themselves. In speaking about criticism of their actions in the Ukrainian question, Patriarch Bartholomew recently tried to explain it away through national differences—so to say, it’s all a matter of: “Our Slavic brothers cannot endure the primacy of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and of our nation in Orthodoxy.” This remark in and of itself racist, which falls under the category of the heresy of ethnophyletism, was calculated to gain support in Greek society. It is a sort of attempt to play on the Greeks’ feeling of national solidarity. However, it by no means reflects the real situation, because the Constantinople Patriarchate acted no less cruelly with regard to the other Greek Churches than it has with the Russian Church. For example, in 2003 Patriarch Bartholomew suddenly demanded that the Greek Orthodox Church transfer to his control thirty-six dioceses in the so-called “new territories” of Greece—at least regarding the appointment of bishops to these cathedras. The Synod of the Greek Church refused to submit, and its primate at that time, Archbishop Chrystodoulos of Athens, said that submitting to that demand would discredit the very fact of the Greek Orthodox Church’s autocephaly. After new bishops were chosen without his consent, on April 30, 2004 Patriarch Bartholomew announced a break in Eucharistic communion between the Constantinople Church and the Greek Church. When the Russian Church recently broke communion with Constantinople as a protest and extreme measure against Constantinople’s unlawful intrusion into Moscow’s canonical territory, many criticized this decision as too harsh. However the Constantinople Patriarchate itself used the same measure to pressure another, likewise Greek, Local Church. The Greek Church was unable to withstand this pressure and in the end submitted, giving over the “new territories” to the rule of the Constantinople Patriarchate. Did this happen because the Greek Church’s hierarchs were convinced of Patriarch Bartholomew’s correctness? No! The Greek Church called its decision an “act of sacrifice for the sake of peace in the Church.” But did this sacrifice truly preserve peace? Alas, no. Even the historical facts cited above show that the sacrificial acts and concessions by various Churches did not appease but rather whetted Constantinople’s appetite even more and encouraged it to launch new raids. And now, after its intrusion into the canonical territory of the Greek Church, an even larger-scale and more outrageous intrusion has taken place on the canonical territory of the Russian Orthodox Church, namely on the autonomous Ukrainian Church. And what if the Russian Church were to respond in this conflict as the Greek Church ultimately did? Would it appease the Constantinople patriarch’s appetite, and could we expect that no more Churches will be subjected to such violations from it? Will it all end after Ukraine? Alas, no. Patriarch Bartholomew has already announced that he is getting ready to do the same thing in Macedonia, which is the canonical territory of the Serbian Orthodox Church. From the start, the “Ukrainian” and “Macedonian” questions were reviewed together. On April 9, 2018, Patriarch Bartholomew met with Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko, and on April 10 with Macedonian president George Ivanov. Both presidents asked that canonical status be granted to the schismatic groups of their respective countries. And both presidents came away from their meetings with the patriarch optimistic about the future. On May 30, the Synod of the Constantinople Patriarchate took up a “review of the status” of the schismatic “Macedonian Orthodox Church”, which, just like the Ukrainian schismatics, sent a request for recognition. On June 11, Patriarch Bartholomew publicly announced: “When the Mother Church seeks the path of salvation of our brothers from Ukraine and Skopje, it is fulfilling its apostolic duty. It is our obligation and responsibility to bring these peoples back to ecclesiastical rightness and canonical order.” All of these steps point to the fact that Constantinople proposed a dual intrusion into Ukraine and Macedonia with recognition of their schismatics contrary to the will of the Local Churches, whose canonical territories those lands are. However, judging by everything going on, precisely the Russian Orthodox Church’s tough position regarding the intrusion into Ukraine, as well as the obvious displeasure on the part of other Local Churches have forced Patriarch Bartholomew to set aside his intrusion into the territory of the Serbian Church. He decided to return to the already proven tactic of breaking the Local Churches one at a time. But without a doubt, if world Orthodoxy resigns itself to the lawlessness perpetrated in Ukraine, then Macedonia will be next. But will Macedonia be the last intrusion? This is a rhetorical question, for the answer is clear. Not a single Local Church is insured against intrusion from Constantinople. And even if there is no base assumption to this, for example in Romania or Bulgaria, then when the situation changes and the occasion arises, Patriarch Bartholomew or his successors will no doubt take advantage of it. After Serbia, the very likely candidate for intrusion is the canonical territory of the Georgian Orthodox Church due to the complex situation in Abhazia, where there already are schismatics fighting for the resolution to the local ecclesiastical question by addressing it to the Constantinople Patriarchate. They proclaimed themselves the “Holy Metropolia of Abhazia” and in 2012 had already visited Patriarch Bartholomew, turning to him again in 2016 with a request for “the resolution of the Abhazian church problems.” Within the current geopolitical conditions an intrusion is not likely, but if the situation changes in the future, then undoubtedly it will happen and nothing will hinder the Constantinople patriarch from again announcing that he is “fulfilling his apostolic duty” to “save our brothers” in Abhazia. “A new ecclesiological concept” Synaxis of the Constantinople Patriarchate. Now let us go on to the second question: What stands behind these actions of the Constantinople patriarchs? Why do they consider that they have the right to takeover, and what aims are they pursuing? To answer this question we do not need to rely on conspiracy theories or guessing games. It is sufficient for us to pay attention to words that were publicly pronounced. Behind all the expansions mentioned above, as well as many others that we have not even mentioned, and in order not to drag this article out longer than needed, stands a particular ecclesiological teaching on the exclusive position of the Constantinople patriarch in the Orthodox Church. In early September, at the Synaxis of bishops of the Constantinople Patriarchate, Patriarch Bartholomew announced that “for Orthodoxy the Ecumenical Patriarchate serves as a leaven that leavens the whole lump (Gal. 5:9) of the Church and history... The beginning of the Orthodox Church is the Ecumenical Patriarchate, in it is life, and this life is the light of the Church”... “Orthodoxy cannot exist without the Ecumenical Patriarchate... the Ecumenical Patriarch as the head of Orthodox Body... If the Ecumenical Patriarchate... leaves the inter-Orthodox scene, the Local Churches will become like ‘sheep having no shepherd’” (Mt. 9:36). These remarks can be supplemented by remarks made by other representatives of the Constantinople Patriarchate. For example, the words of Metropolitan Amphilochius of Adrianopolis: “What would the Orthodox Church be without the Ecumenical Patriarchate? A form of Protestantism... It is unimaginable that some Local Church... should break communion with [with the Ecumenical Patriarchate], because the canonicity of its existence comes from it [the Ecumenical Patriarchate]. And here are the words of Protopresbyter George Tsetis: “The Constantinople patriarch, whether someone likes it or not, is the Primate of Orthodoxy, the visible sign of its Unity and the guarantee of the normally functioning institution that we call the ‘Orthodox Church.’” As we see, the matter has gone very far. If it all began with the assertion that all the Churches in the diaspora should be in submission to him, now it has reached a point where the Constantinople patriarch, as it turns out, is the primate of all Orthodoxy, the head of the Orthodox Body; all the bishops of all the Churches are subject to his judgment, and the primates of all the other Local Churches are like sheep to their shepherd. And without him, the Orthodox Church would not even be Orthodox. Is this what everyone, always and everywhere has believed? Don’t these statements shock anyone who is even a little acquainted with Church history? As we know, even claims to exclusive primacy by the bishop of Rome were rejected as heresy by the Orthodox world, but the bishops of Constantinople have even less grounds for such claims—if only because before the fourth century, Constantinople didn’t exist. Who at that time was the source, leaven, life and light of the Church? The Church did just fine without the Constantinople Patriarchate during one of the most glorious periods of its history. And after the creation of the Constantinople See, as everyone knows, there were heretics seated there many times. It would be no mistake to say that in the history of the Constantinople throne, heretics occupied it more often than any other ancient patriarchal see. And these periods stretched on for years, even decades. How, after this, can anyone say that Orthodoxy cannot exist without the Ecumenical Patriarchate and that all the other Churches receive their canonicity from it? In those times it was precisely the opposite—canonicity and belonging to Orthodoxy was determined by the break in communion with the Constantinople throne (and the preservation of purity of faith, of course). As it is not hard to see, we have to do with a new, false teaching being preached by the Constantinople Patriarchate. This teaching is the very source, and at the same time, theoretical basis for all his anti-canonical intrusions over the past 100 years, beginning with Finland and ending with Ukraine. Any new false teaching that arose in the Church has met opposition and criticism—and this is how it is with the teaching we are talking about. Back in 1924, the holy confessor Patriarch Tikhon wrote to Constantinople patriarch Gregorios VII: “We are not a little disturbed and surprised that... the head of the Constantinople Church, without any prior communication with us as the lawful representative and Head of the whole Russian Orthodox Church, is meddling in the internal life and affairs of the Autocephalous Russian Church. The Holy Councils (see canons 2 and 3 of the Second Ecumenical Council and others) recognized only the primacy of honor of the bishop of Constantinople, but did not nor does recognize primacy of authority.” This was said in response to the Constantinople patriarch’s recognition of the schismatic-renovationists supported by the Communist regime, and that he called for Patriarch Tikhon to step down and revoke the establishment of patriarchy in the Russian Church. St. John (Maximovitch) also noted in 1938 that the appearance of this false teaching coincided in time with the Constantinople Patriarchate’s loss of almost its entire flock on its own canonical territory as a result of the wars at the beginning of the twentieth century. Thus, the Constantinople patriarchs decided to compensate for this loss at the expense of expansion into other Churches. In the words of St. John, “the Ecumenical Patriarchate wanted to compensate for the loss of the dioceses that went out from under its possession, as well as the loss of its own political significance within the boundaries of Turkey, in regions were there had never been an Orthodox hierarchy up till this time, as well as the Churches of those states where the government is not Orthodox... At that time there was a subjection of separate parts of the Russian Orthodox Church that found themselves cut off from Russia... Limitlessly expanding its craving to subject the Russian regions to itself, the Constantinople patriarchs even began making statements that the joining of Kiev to the Moscow Patriarchate was unlawful... The next step for the Ecumenical Patriarchate would be to announce that all of Russia is under the jurisdiction of Constantinople.” But in fact, as St. John says, “The Ecumenical Patriarchate... having lost its meaning as the Pillar of Truth and itself become the source of division, at the same time seized with exorbitant love of power, presents itself as a pitiful sight that reminds us of the worst days in the history of the Constantinople See.” Archimandrite Sophrony (Sakharov). The disciple of St. Siluoan of Mt. Athos, Archimandrite Sophrony (Sakharov), spoke even more specifically about this problem. In 1950 he wrote: At the present time, in the bowels of our Holy Church, a great danger has appeared that threatens to pervert the dogmatic teaching on it... You ask: In what is this distortion now seen? We reply: In Constantinopolitan neopapism, which is trying to move quickly from the theoretical phase into the practical... [Adherents of this teaching] at first accepted that Constantinople has jurisdictional rights... then they began insisting that it has the right of highest appeal in the universal Church, forgetting that it was precisely these claims by Rome that lead to the great and final separation of the Churches (1054)... After assuming the Roman Catholic principle of development, they have accepted that Constantinople has exclusive rights to the entire Orthodox diaspora in the world, and rejected this right for all the other autocephalous Churches with respect to the diaspora... [Constantinople] thinks that other autocephalous Churches are reduced before it: Constantinople is everything, it is the Ecumenical [universal] Church, and all the rest are parts, which only belong to the Ecumenical [universal] Church to the extent that they are connected with Constantinople. What true Christians will accept this? And if, shall we suppose, due to one or another catastrophe the First and Second Rome disappear from the face of the earth, does that mean that the world will be left without a true connection with God, because the connecting links with Him disappeared? No, this is a strange voice (Jn. 10:5). This is not our Christian faith. Need we say that this form of papism is also an ecclesiastical heresy, just like Roman papism?.. We reject any “Rome”—the First, Second, and Third—if this means the introduction of a principle of subordination into the life of our Church. We reject any Constantinople, Moscow, London, Paris, New York, or any other papism as an ecclesiological heresy that distorts Christianity. Not only Russian ecclesiastical authors have written about this problem, but also authors from other Local Churches. Thus for example, after the above-mentioned teaching of the Constantinople Church was stated, Archpriest Radomir Popovich of the Serbian Church noted that “this type of thinking reminds us of Rome... here they are talking not only about the bishop of Constantinople’s primacy of honor, but about a whole package of prerogatives of exclusive powers over the whole Orthodox world. This, unfortunately, is identical to the pretenses of the Roman bishop, and therefore many are justifiably talking about the appearance of a new pope.” And here are the words of one bishop of the Antiochian Church, the archbishop of Australia and New Zealand: In educated circles it is well known that the patriarch of Constantinople does not have the same position in the church hierarchy of the Orthodox Church that the bishop of Rome occupies in the Catholic church. The patriarch of Constantinople is not the Roman pope of the East. It is also well known in educated Orthodox circles that in the past there have been cases when the Constantinople patriarchs at Ecumenical and other Local Councils were recognized as heretics... The Constantinople patriarch is not the voice of Orthodoxy and cannot set the standards in Orthodoxy. Disagreement with Patriarch Bartholomew’s actions, which contradict the holy canons and sow temptations and schisms, was expressed in a Statement by Metropolitan Seraphim of Kithyra and Antikythera of the Greek Orthodox Church. More commentary could easily be cited here, including by representatives of other Local Churches. But non-acceptance of the Constantinople Patriarchate’s false teaching is not limited to the words of various hierarchs and priests—there has also been a conciliar condemnation of it. This took place in 2008 at the Council of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church. In this special resolution is stated: The Council expresses its deep concern regarding the tendencies... appearing in the statements of certain representatives of the Holy Constantinople Church. Based upon the understanding of canon 28 of the Fourth Ecumenical Council by the indivisible fullness of the Orthodox Church, these hierarchs and theologians are developing a new ecclesiological concept that is becoming a challenge for all-Orthodox unity. According to this concept: a) Only the Local Church that is in communion with the Constantinople See is considered as belonging to world Orthodoxy; b) The Constantinople Patriarchate has the exclusive right of church jurisdiction in all the countries of the Orthodox diaspora; c) In these countries the Constantinople Patriarchate alone represents the opinion and interests of all the Local Churches before the government authorities; d) Any bishop or clergyman who serves outside the canonical territory of its Local Church is under the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of Constantinople, even if he doesn’t recognize this himself... e) The Constantinople Patriarchate determines the geographical boundaries of the Churches, and if his opinion does not correspond to the opinion of one or another Church on this matter, it can institute its own jurisdiction on the territory of that Church... This view by the Constantinople Patriarchate of its own rights and powers enter into insurmountable contradiction with many-centuries-old canonical traditions upon which the existence of the Russian Orthodox Church and other Local Churches are built.” Although in this council resolution, out of economia the word “heresy” is not stated, the rejected and condemned teaching is defined as a “new ecclesiological concept,” which marks the problem as being in the sphere of dogma and not only canons—for ecclesiology (the teaching about the Church) is a part of dogmatics. In 2013 the Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church accepted the document, “On the question of primacy in the Universal Church”, in which it explains why it does not accept the Constantinople Patriarchate’s new teaching: “In the Holy Church of Christ, primacy belongs in all things to its Head—our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ... Various forms of primacy in the Church are secondary in relation to the eternal primacy of Christ as the Head of the Church... On the level of the Universal Church as a community of autocephalous Local Churches, united in one family by the common confession of faith and abiding in sacramental communion with each other, primacy is determined in accordance with the tradition of the holy diptychs and is a primacy of honor... The order of the diptychs has historically changed... Canon law, upon which the holy diptychs are based, does not grant to the one in the first position any privilege of power on the Church-wide scale... The ecclesiological distortions that ascribe the function of rule to the hierarch in the first position... have received the name “papism.” Also in a more recent statement of the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church dated September 14, 2018 are comments on the above-mentioned words from the Constantinople patriarch: “These statements are difficult to assess in any other way than an attempt to remake Orthodox ecclesiology according to the Roman Catholic model... in attempts to assert its power, which does not exist and never has, over the Orthodox Church.” All these cited quotes prove that the appearance of a new false teaching that distorts the dogma of the Church has not gone unnoticed—individual authors as well as councils have raised their voices to expose it. It is very sad to admit that the ancient Constantinople See is again infected with a heresy, but this is no longer just a suspicion—it is a committed fact that has been witnessed many times. It is this very heresy, as we have already noted, that is motivating the Constantinople patriarchs to commit their lawless acts aimed at solidifying their self-ascribed power over the Orthodox Church. And this process will not end in Ukraine or Macedonia—after all, not every Church has given Constantinople its diaspora parishes and agreed with its claims. This problem cannot be solved by any diplomatic maneuvers, compromises, or attempts to come to an agreement. All of this has been done, to no positive effect. According to the words of St. Mark of Ephesus, “Nothing that has to do with the Church can be corrected through compromises. There is no middle ground between Truth and falsehood.” A Pan-Orthodox Council is needed As always in the Church, dogmatic problems are healed only by condemning heresy and heretics, deposing them and placing Orthodox bishops on the cathedrae that had been held captive to heretics. This path is of course painful, but it is the only way to heal the Body of the Church. But modern events show that putting off a church decision on this problem is also by no means painless. It is already painful for the faithful of the canonical Church in Ukraine. But they could become the final victims if only all the Local Churches would find the will to gather for a common conciliar condemnation of neopapism. Furthermore, any attempt at papism needs to be condemned once and for all, so that no other Church would be tempted to fall into it in the future; so that no one would follow in the footsteps of the first and second Rome. A Pan-Orthodox Council should be called, which would make a sober assessment of the new teaching, as well as its practical expression in the form of lawless intrusions upon the territory of other Churches. Of course, Patriarch Bartholomew is not likely to visit such a Council—after all, within the framework of his false teaching he is pushing the idea that only he can call a Pan-Orthodox Council. Then he won’t have to face anyone’s judgment, because it’s obvious that Patriarch Bartholomew himself will never call a Council to judge his own speeches and actions. History contradicts this idea—not one Ecumenical Council has ever been called by the Constantinople Patriarch; moreover, some of the Councils deposed and anathematized the heretical bishops of that cathedra. And after the epoch of the Ecumenical Councils, the Church also enacted its judicial power over Constantinople patriarchs. Thus, for example, after the Ferrara-Florentine Unia in 1443 a Council was held in Jerusalem of three Eastern patriarchs, who deposed the heretical Constantinople Patriarch Mitrophan. In those days, for many years the first in honor in the Orthodox Church was the patriarch of Alexandria, until an Orthodox patriarch was placed in the Constantinople cathedra. In 2005, Patriarch Bartholomew called a Pan-Orthodox Council, at which he succeeded in deposing Patriarch Ireneus of Jerusalem, although the accusations against him were not about canonical violations that would have merited deposition, never mind the subsequent defrocking. The actions and assertions of Patriarch Bartholomew himself are much more deserving of a dispassionate review at a Pan-Orthodox Council. And with such dispassionate review, of course it should be considered that the false teaching propagated by the Constantinople patriarchs beginning in 1922 directly contradict the faith that their ancient predecessors confessed on that cathedra. For example, Patriarch Germanos II (1222–1240) said, “There are five patriarchates with specific borders for each, and in recent times a schism has arisen amongst them, the beginning of which was placed by a brazen hand having predominance and lordship in the Church. The head of the Church is Christ, and any demand of headship is against His teaching.” Unfortunately, his modern successors have themselves decided to demand headship of the Church, apparently considering that being under the headship of Christ is not enough for the Orthodox. In antiquity the Constantinople patriarchs said straightforwardly that they are counteracting the primacy of the Roman pope not because of any desire to assert their own primacy. In part, Patriarch Nilos Kerameus (1380–1388) wrote to Pope Urban VI: “It is not fair what some are saying of us that we desire to have primacy.” The current patriarch has shamed his predecessors, inasmuch as he has, alas, made these accusations entirely fair. These words are from an Encyclical of four patriarchs in 1848: “The dignity [of the Roman See] consists not in lordship and not in headship, which Peter himself never received, but in the fraternal seniority in the universal Church and advantage given the popes for the sake of the renown and antiquity of their city... we Orthodox have preserved the catholic [universal] Church as the unspotted bride of her Bridegroom, although we have no secular oversight or “sacred rule”, but are only united by the bonds of love and zeal for our common Mother, in unity of faith, sealed with seven seals of the Spirit (Rev. 5:1); that is, the seven Ecumenical Councils, and in obedience to the truth.” Beneath these words is the signature of Constantinople patriarch Anthimos, who, like his ancient predecessors, shared the same view on the question of primacy in the Church that the Russian Orthodox Church is now expressing. And the current Constantinople Patriarchate has departed from this faith, in fact so obviously that it openly criticizes and even calls it a heresy, as we can see from the words of the former secretary of the Synod of the Constantinople Patriarchate Archimandrite Elipidoros (Lambriniadis), now Metropolitian of Prussia. He stated that “refusal to accept primacy in the Orthodox Church—primacy that can only be embodied by the first [hierarch]—is no less of a heresy.” Even the Roman Church needed more time than this to dogmatize its teaching on the primacy of the pope. It is sad to acknowledge that even in the Greek Churches we have seen the rising of this heresy. There was some opposition in the Alexandria Patriarchate in the mid twentieth century, but then it ended. Although it would be hard to call Patriarch Bartholomew a popular figure, and in the Greek language one can find quite a lot of criticism against him. He is accused of canonical crimes, and of various heresies; but in the Greek language we don’t find anything accusing him of neopapsim. Papism in the documents of the ill-famed Council of Crete Let’s take also the ill-famed Council of Crete, which was the cause of so many temptations and divisions. How much criticism extremely intelligent people have aimed at it! There have even been accusations voiced of dogmatic mistakes in it documents; but at the same time, no one noticed the multiple metastases of the heresy of Constantinople papism that had crept into various council documents. Although, as we are convinced, that council was called precisely in order to have those self-ascribed privileges of the Constantinople Patriarchate recognized on the pan-Orthodox level. Its documents are of no value for any other Local Orthodox Church, and they did not resolve any relevant pan-Orthodox problems. However, there is much written in the documents in favor of the Constantinople Patriarchate, and we will cite a few examples of this below. It is worth stipulating here that the Constantinople version of papism does not correspond one hundred percent with the Roman version. There are some differences. For example, if in Roman papism the figure of the pope is exalted but all other bishops are thought to be equal to each other, then in the Constantinople version of papism, special rights and privileges extend to some degree to the bishops of the Constantinople Church. This is written in the document accepted at the Crete Council called, “The Orthodox Diaspora”. In section 2b is outlined the order of procedure of bishops’ councils in non-Orthodox countries of the world, and in part it is determined that “the assembly shall consist of all the bishops of every region and will proceed under the chairmanship of the senior bishop in submission to the Constantinople Church.” As we can see, not only the Constantinople patriarch, but also all bishops in submission to him possess the right of primacy in relation to all the other bishops of all other Local Churches, inasmuch as they should preside at local assemblies of Orthodox bishops of various jurisdictions. Even the Latins didn’t think of that. In many places in the Crete documents, the Constantinople patriarch is given power over all the Orthodox Churches, including judicial. In part: “In matters of common interests and demanding... pan-Orthodox review, the chairman [of the bishops’ assembly] shall address the Ecumenical Patriarch for further actions” (Orthodox diaspora, 6). “In the course of the following pan-Orthodox discussion the Ecumenical patriarch shall determine the unanimous consensus of Orthodox Churches” (Relationship of the Orthodox Church with the rest of the Christian world, 10). On the territory of the Orthodox diaspora, autonomous Churches shall not be established except in cases of pan-Orthodox agreement provided by the Ecumenical patriarch” (Autonomy and the method of proclaiming it, 2d). “In case differences of opinion arise... the participating sides shall jointly or separately address the Ecumenical patriarch, so that the latter would find a canonical solution to the problem” (Autonomy and the method of pronouncing it, 2e). In the Missive of the Council of Crete, it is proposed that a Holy and Great Council be instituted as a regular institution, the Constantinople patriarch for some reason having the only right to call it, which is something that has no basis in either the history or theology of the Orthodox Church. However, the right to call a Pan-Orthodox Council should belong not only to the first primate in the diptychs, but to any primate of a Local Church. Limiting this right only to the Constantinople patriarch makes it impossible to call a council in the case of a Local Church’s claim against the Constantinople patriarch, and in fact makes the patriarch of that Church not subject to any judicial proceedings, which contradicts the canonical order of Orthodoxy, according to which any bishop is subject to the judgment of a court of bishops. Why have Greek authors passed over all of this, as well as other more outrageous expressions of the heresy of Constantinople papism that we have cited above? Could it really be that they share in that heresy? Or are they ready to make peace with it simply for the sake of national solidarity? This is hard to believe; after all, the glory of the Orthodox Greek people always consisted in its dedication to the truth, for the sake of which its best representatives were not afraid to expose the Constantinople patriarchs who fell into heresy. Thus it was for St. Maximos the Confessor at the time of the monothelyte patriarchs, thus it was for St. Mark of Ephesus at the time of the Ferrara-Florentine Unia, thus is was for St. Meletius the Confessor at the time of the Lyon Unia... We could go on. For all of these holy Greeks, faithfulness to the truth always took first place. What has changed? After all, we are not talking about “taking the side of the Russians” or the “Slavs”, but about standing on the side of the truth. How many confessors and martyrs from among the Greek people have suffered in order not to accept Western papism? Could it really only all have been for their descendants to submissively accept the very same heresy, only this time wrapped in an Eastern, Greek wrapper? May it never be! We must talk briefly about the claims of the Constantinople patriarch to judicial authority and arbitrage throughout the entire Orthodox Church, inasmuch as these claims are part of that same wrapper. Of course, this article is dedicated to the dogmatic issue, and therefore we are not discussing canonical matters, which have been sufficiently covered in other articles. In view of the systematic violations and infringements of many canons by the Constantinople Patriarchate we are simply taken aback when at the same time we hear the announcement that the “Ecumenical Patriarchate bears responsibility for bringing matters into ecclesiastical an canonical order.” And these statements are being voiced at the same time that this Patriarchate is revoking canons altogether—for example the apostolic canon that forbids clergy from marrying twice. But does Constantinople have the right of appeal? Although we can discuss many things in this regard, it would drag this article out longer than necessary. But nevertheless, it is worth discussing one example of specific claims on judicial powers over the whole Church. In his already mentioned recent speeches, Patriarch Bartholomew spoke of the “unique privileges of the Constantinople Church to accept appeals from hierarchs and clergy seeking refuge from all the Local Orthodox Churches.” And these statements are made with reference to the ninth and seventeenth canons of the Fourth Ecumenical Council, as if they bestowed that privilege on the Constantinople Patriarchate. And by this he justifies, in part, his intrusion into Ukrainian affairs and the acceptance into communion of defrocked schismatics. We can understand just to what extent this interpretation of the canons agrees with Church Tradition by comparing it with the explanation of St. Nicodemos the Hagiorite in his famous “Pedalion” (“Rudder”): The Constantinople [Patriarchate] does not have the authority to act in dioceses and within the boundaries of other patriarchs, and the given canon does not grant him the right of appellate instance throughout the whole Church... Therefore, Zonara in his explanation of the 17th canon of this Council says that Constantinople is not placed as judge over all metropolitans in general, but only over those in submission to him. The Constantinople [Patriarchate] is the only first and last judge for metropolitans in submission to him, but not for those in submission to other patriarchs, because the unity of the Ecumenical Council is the final and all-encompassing judge of all patriarchs, and no one else. As we see, the false teaching on the dogmas is based upon a false interpretation of canons, which, of course unsurprisingly, inasmuch as we are talking about teachings, is alien to the Orthodox Church. Of course, adherents of this teaching, like any other heretics, can seek out various separate citations from old texts that are amenable to them, especially ones coming out of Constantinople; they can recall also the engulfment by Constantinople of the Bulgarian and Serbian Churches during the time of the Ottoman Empire—quite dubious and contentious actions, which Constantinople later had to correct. But all of this cannot change the fact that any papism is alien to Orthodox teaching, be it Western or Eastern. As the holy hieromartyr Gorazd of Czechia wrote, “The Eastern Church accepted only Jesus Christ as the Head of the Church and rejected the very idea of accepting an [ordinary] man as the head... because it saw this idea as the consequence of a lack of faith in the invisible Head—Jesus Christ—and His living rule over the Body of the Universal Church... as well as incompatible with the apostolic principle of conciliar decision of Church matters, which was expressed in its highest form at the Ecumenical Councils.” The Constantinople Patriarch, and not the “Ecumenical” Patriarch It is also worth talking about how the Constantinople Patriarchate uses its various titles of honor as the basis for promoting his papism—first of all the title, “Ecumenical (Universal) Patriarch”. If earlier this title was one of his titles of honor, like for example the Alexandria patriarch’s title of “Ecumenical Judge (Judge of the Universe)”, then in recent times it has become in fact the Constantinople primate’s official and main self-name. They have called themselves exclusively by this name for a long time, with their own understanding that their ecclesiastical jurisdiction extends literally over the whole universe. As an example of this term’s use, we can cite the words of Metropolitan Elipodoros (Lambriniadis): The primacy of the archbishop of Constantinople has nothing in common with the dyptichs, which only express hierarchical order... If we talk about the source of primacy, then the source is the very person of the archbishop of Constantinople himself, who as a bishop is the “first among equals”, but as the archbishop of Constantinople, and correspondingly, Ecumenical (Universal) patriarch he is the first without equal. Such an understanding of his “ecumenical (as in “universal”) jurisdiction” was also expressed in that during the twentieth century the hierarchs of the Constantinople Church have divided amongst themselves all countries of the world with the exception of those which they themselves recognize as belonging to other autocephalous Churches. So, even the countries in which there is not a single Orthodox Christian have found themselves written into the canonical territory of one or another bishop of the Constantinople Church. And that bishop can get angry and even furiously protest if some other Church opens its mission in a country wherein he has never even stepped foot and where he doesn’t have a single believer—simply by force of the above-mentioned allocation. That this allocation of the world, which originated only within the twentieth century, again exposes this teaching as new and previously unknown in the Church—because had it been ancient, the Constantinople bishops would have introduced that allocation much earlier. It is sufficiently well known that even when the title “Ecumenical” began to be used by the Constantinople bishops, the holy Pope Gregory the Dialogist categorically denounced it. He wrote in part to Patriarch John of Constantinople: As a result of your criminal and pride-filled title, the Church is divided and the hearts of your brothers are led into temptation... If the apostle Paul avoided submitting the members of Christ in their parts to a certain head, as if going around Christ, though these heads were the apostles themselves, then what will you say to Christ, Who is the Head of the Universal Church, when tried at the Last Judgment—you, who with your title of “ecumenical” are trying to subject all His members to yourself?” And here are his words from a letter to Patriarchs Eulogios of Alexandria and Anastasios of Antioch: None of my predecessors agreed to use this dishonorable title (ecumenical) because, in fact, if any patriarch will call himself ecumenical, then by this he takes away the patriarchal title from others. Nevertheless, the Constantinople patriarchs did not heed the words of the Orthodox pope, St. Gregory the Dialogist, who was at that time first in honor. And this title continued to be used. Some try to defend its use by saying that it supposedly is not used in the sense that St. Gregory wrote about, that it was no more than an elegant title, something like “Ecumenical Teacher” and “Ecumenical Librarian”, which they also had in the imperial capital. Perhaps that is how it was at the beginning, but if we look at how this title has finally come to be used, then we can count St. Gregory’s words as prophetic. St. Gregory was not the only pope who came out against the use of the title “ecumenical”. In the second act of the Seventh Ecumenical Council we read that the epistle that Pope Adrian of Rome wrote to the emperor was read aloud. In the original text of this epistle, besides a condemnation of iconoclasm, were these words: We were very surprised when we found that in your imperial edicts published about the patriarch of the ruling city, that is, about Tarasius, he is also called ecumenical. We do not know whether this was written was out of ignorance or at the suggestion of impious schismatics and heretics; but we strongly ask your most merciful imperial power that he never, not in a single of his writings sign as “ecumenical”; because it is clear that this is against the establishment of the holy canons and traditions of the holy fathers... Therefore, if anyone should call him ecumenical or give consent to this, then let them know that it is alien to the Orthodox faith. Although there is a great probability that these places in the epistle were not translated into Greek during its reading at the Council, nevertheless we see for the second time that the first primate of that time directly criticized and forbade the use of the title “ecumenical” by Constantinople patriarchs. These testimonies give us grounds to talk about the unlawfulness of using this title. Therefore, Orthodox writers should not use the name, “Ecumenical Patriarch”, but call him the “Constantinople Patriarch”, in order not to support the very use of this title and the spreading of the heresy of new papism. The Mother Church? Another title actively being used by Constantinople as a basis for its ambitions is “Mother Church”, although this title, like those before it, was never given to the Constantinople throne by any Ecumenical Council, but was in fact self-willfully assumed. It is fully justified only in the historical context and only in relation to Churches that received their autocephaly from the Constantinople Church. However, it is being used in a much broader sense. For example, in the above-mentioned speech, Patriarch Bartholomew talks about his Patriarchate as a “caring Mother and parent of the Church” in his claims on a special place in the pan-Orthodox communion. But this understanding of the Constantinople Church as the Mother of all Churches is obviously absurd, because many ancient Patriarchates historically preceded the appearance of Constantinople. Then how could it be their mother? If any Church could lay claim to this title it would be the Jerusalem Church. All the Churches have always recognized its special historical contribution, but it was never understood as a right to lordship and power. But Constantinople uses the self-ascribed title of “Mother Church” as grounds for its striving to subject to its authority all the other autocephalous Churches, which are supposed to be submissive and obedient like daughters to their mother. Although as Archimandrite Sophrony (Sakharov) noted, even if we were to allow that Constantinople can truly call itself the Mother of all Churches... in any case, extrapolating submission from the fact of historical motherhood would be a departure from Orthodox triadology, according to which Fatherhood or Sonship does not remove the fullness of equality. The One Who is born from a being is equal to the One from Whom He was born. That is how the holy fathers thought. And the words “caring mother” sound especially cynical from the lips of Patriarch Bartholomew. No caring mother would ever do to her children what Constantinople is doing to the Russian Church, and not much earlier than that to the Greek Church. If we had to apply the word “mother” to the Constantinople Patriarchate, then its actions more closely illustrate the sickening pagan image of a mother who devours her own children. And who can blame the children who decide to leave such a “mother”? That the Russian Church has broken Eucharistic communion with Constantinople would be justified even if this matter were limited only to its desire to protest this evildoing on the scale of the entire Church, and to protect its children from communion with those who have entered into communion with schismatics. But in fact it is all much more serious than that. The Russian Orthodox Church has become the first to refuse to submit to the heresy of papism that is being imposed on all the Churches by the Constantinople Patriarchate. And all the other Local Churches will sooner or later have to make the same choice—not between the “Russians” and the “Greeks”, but between Orthodoxy and heresy. Priest George Maximov http://orthochristian.com/118982.html?fbclid=IwAR2foo2gRatveLVjIsfEVdl98rDbaPONacss6sA691F1irkuRL1KtGN9HZM
  7. On October 28, the Orthodox Church of the Nativity of Christ and St. Nicholas the Wonderworker in Florence, Italy elected to move from the jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Constantinople to that of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR) due to the outrageous interference of the Patriarchate of Constantinople in Ukrainian Church affairs. Yesterday, January 25, another Italian parish made the same decision. The Church of Christ the Savior, the Great Martyr Catherine, and St. Seraphim of Sarov posted an announcement on its website regarding the jurisdictional change. The parish had been part of the Archdiocese of Russian Orthodox Churches of Western Europe that was suddenly stripped of its Exarchate status in late November and whose future is now uncertain. An Archdiocesan general assembly is being held on February 23 to discuss the Archdiocese’s response. The church originally belonged to the Russian Orthodox Church, being consecrated in 1913. It moved into the Ecumenical Patriarchate with the Archdiocese of Russian Orthodox Churches in 1931. In a letter dated January 23, Metropolitan Gennadios of the Patriarchate of Constantinople’s Archdiocese of Italy and Exarchate for Southern Europe suspended the rector, Fr. Dionysiy, from the priesthood for a period of three months for unspecified “anti-canonical actions” and the failure to appear for an appointment at the See of Venice. In Constantinople’s understanding, the parishes of the former Exarchate are already under the geographically corresponding metropolitan of the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s Greek dioceses throughout Europe—Met. Gennadios in the given case—though the Archdiocese has not accepted this understanding, continuing to operate under the episcopacy of Archbishop John (Renneteau) of Chariopoulis. The parish’s announcement, which came two days later, reads in full: Due to the aggressive actions of the Italian Metropolis of the Patriarchate of Constantinople against our parish and its rector, we are forced to acknowledge that it is on longer possible to be in Eucharistic communion with this Patriarchate. As the Archdiocese of Russian Orthodox Churches in Western Europe is in full canonical and Eucharistic communion with Constantinople, we have decided with great sorrow to leave its jurisdiction and we hope that the parishes of the Archdiocese will return to the Mother Russian Church at the assembly on February 23. The parish council unanimously decided to ask the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad to accept our parish under its omophorion. The overwhelming majority of parish members support this decision. The extraordinary parish meeting, scheduled for February 3, will legally formalize and fix our intentions. The Russian Church Abroad is the best choice for us because, being an integral, self-governing part of the Local Russian Orthodox Church, it is independent in its pastoral, educational, administrative, economic, material, and civil affairs. Moreover, its historical roots are closely connected with the Russian diaspora, which we have the honor of belonging to. From January 24, our parish has been accepted under the omophorion of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad and is part of the Western European Diocese. Fr. Dionysiy Baikov is appointed the rector of the Church of Christ the Savior, St. Seraphim of Sarov, and the holy Great Martyr Catherine in Sanremo, the “Russian Orthodox Church in Sanremo.” From this day, during the Divine services in our church we will commemorate: His Holiness the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia KIRILL, His Eminence Metropolitan HILARION First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad, His Grace IRINEI, Bishop of Richmond and Western Europe. We thank you all for your support. Parish council of the Russian Orthodox Church in Sanremo, Italy January 25, 2019 Holy Martyr Tatiana of Rome Two priests formerly of the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese, Fr. Mark Tyson and Fr. Nectarios Trevino have also transferred to ROCOR due to the present situation in Ukraine. http://orthochristian.com/118916.html?fbclid=IwAR0L-hYGohQQhlVowU-93GuBbzeq8TyPm8UNkaIE_t6_zBkELrxhiS05u7E
  8. The Archdiocese of the Russian Churches in Western Europe, officially the Patriarchal Exarchate for Orthodox Parishes of the Russian Tradition in Western Europe, reportedly intends to ask to be accepted into the Russian Orthodox Church. The Archdiocese had been a part of the Patriarchate of Constantinople for decades, though it was suddenly abolished without warning by the Holy Synod of the Constantinople on November 27. The Patriarchate then officially announced that it had revoked the 1999 tomos that gave the care of the Archdiocese to its own Archbishop-Exarch and that the Russian parishes were to be integrated into the dioceses of the Patriarchate of Constantinople already present in their countries. The Archdiocese then announced that it would hold a clergy meeting on December 15 that would set a date for a General Assembly that would formulate a response to Constantinople. And today, a Russian translation of a letter sent from the Archdiocesan hierarch Archbishop John (Renneteau) of Chariopoulis to His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, received by the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department of External Church Relations (DECR), has been published on Credo Press, revealing that the Archdiocese intends to petition for canonical recognition by the Russian Orthodox Church. The letter reads: Your Holiness! After my meeting with Metropolitan Hilarion on November 30, 2018, I am allowing myself, as Archbishop, to begin a correspondence with you regarding the Archdiocese of the Russian Churches in Western Europe's new situation. My main pastoral concern is to preserve the unity, integrity, and specificity of this Archdiocese, which played an important role in preserving the theological, liturgical, and ecclesiological spiritual tradition of the Russian Church in Western Europe in a difficult historical period. We are planning to ask you for canonical recognition of the aforementioned Archdiocese, which would ensure the continuity of the inheritance and mission that is turning 100 (in 2024), and which will also allow many to enter the path of reconciliation after so many years of mutual distrust. To this end, we would like you to consider it possible to confirm to us the assurance of the legal and ecclesiastical continuity of our structure, regulated by its statutes, in accordance with the provisions of the Act of July 1, 1901 and the Act of December 9, 1905, and also the decree of May 6, 1906, in accordance with the laws of the French Republic on relations between the state and churches. Moreover, our statutes directly refer to the resolutions of the Moscow Council of 1917-1918. It is this inheritance that we would like to preserve, because it allowed for the preservation of an open Church life including the participation of the laity in the life of the community. Asking this, Your Holiness, we do not want to enter into any competition with your dioceses in Western Europe, but into cooperation with respect for our own historical path. It could be fruitful and allow us to join the Synod or Metropolia of the Russian Church in Western Europe, allowing for the better integration of all our parishes of various languages in various countries, while maintaining the integrity of this Archdiocese in the universal mission of the Orthodox Church. Requesting this, Your Holiness, I understand that we will have to deepen this return together, addressing the fundamental principles of our Archdiocese, which is within the Mother Church from which it is transferring. Being confident in your positive and pastoral attitude towards our request, I wish you a good feast of the Entrance of the Most Holy Theotokos and we entreat your holy prayers for us all, and your blessing. Archbishop John of Chariopoulis Paris, December 7, 2018 http://orthochristian.com/117864.html?fbclid=IwAR2kAsK7LKUi-unGjzcFaNSAQDuzg_BbU17PdwdS5N35gkAdzwPv0IH-bQ4
  9. The Patriarchate of Constantinople has declared that the Russian Church of the Life-Giving Trinity in Pyongyang, North Korea to it, as was stated in the calendar published by the Orthodox Metropolis of Korea of the Patriarchate of Constantinople on the occasion of the visit of Patriarch Bartholomew to Seoul, South Korea. The church is the first and only Orthodox parish in North Korea, and has nothing do with the Ecumenical Patriarchate as the Russian Embassy in North Korea wrote on its Facebook page yesterday. “The question is, what relation does Patriarch Bartholomew have with our church? Why does he want it? To gratify his ambitions? To turn the fruits of the ministry of the Russian missionaries into politicking, parasitic for the faith? We will not allow him to cause chaos, as he has managed to do in Ukraine, here in DPRK,” the message reads. The decision to build the church was personally made by former North Korean leader Kim Jong Il on August 22, 2002, as a sign of Russian-Korean friendship, after he visited the Church of St. Innocent of Irkutsk in Khabarovsk, Russia, according to the site of the Russian Embassy in North Korea. The foundation stone for the church was laid on June 24, 2003, and four North Korean students entered the Moscow Seminary the same year, two of them being ordained as deacons in 2005. The parish community of the Church of the Life-Giving Trinity was officially established by the Russian Holy Synod in July 2006, and the church was consecrated on August 13, 2006, with the two deacons being ordained as priests. The parish is part of the Vladivostok Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church. However, Constantinple has always considered the church to be its own, under the idea that that entire Korean Peninsula is its own canonical territory. “When the parish was finally prepared, the then head of the Russian Orthodox Department for External Church Relations and now Patriarch of Moscow, Kirill, with the support of the Russian Embassy in North Korea, went into the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and uncanonically consecrated the parish,” Metropolitan Ambrosios of the Korean Metropolis of the Ecumenical Patriarchate said in an interview last summer. In its post entitled “UNSEEMLY AMBITIONS,” the embassy reports: “We were very surprised that in far-away Istanbul, they seriously consider the Pyongyang Holy Trinity Church to be their own. In any case, this follows from the calendar published by the Korean Metropolis of the Patriarchate of Constantinople on the occasion of Patriarch Bartholomew’s visit to Seoul.” Patriarch Bartholomew is visiting South Korea from December 3 to 8. His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev), the head of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department for External Church Relations, also just visited China and both Koreas in late November. Further, the embassy notes that such ambitions from Constantinople have been rebuffed several times by North Korea. “Just recently, Patriarch Bartholomew was given the cold shoulder when he again asked to be received in Pyongyang. More than once, and more than twice the Orthodox Committee of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) has explained its position to the Turkish subjects: The Holy Trinity Church was erected as a symbol of Korean-Russian friendship by decision of the former leader of the DPRK Kim Jong Il,” the embassy’s message reads, adding that the church has been a place of prayer for many years for diplomats of the Russian Embassy and others. “The Ecumenical Patriarch, which was brought to Korea on the bayonets of Greek soldiers in 1950, cannot, by definition, have any relation to this project,” the message further reads. The embassy also notes that the parish was built and beautified by the embassy staff and their families, together with the Koreans, and with financial support from Vladivostok. The icons and bells are Russian, the clergy were trained and ordained by the Russian Church, and the altar is blessed with the presence of relics of the New Martyrs and Confessors of the Russian Church. In his interview, Met. Ambrosios also states that Metropolitan Sotirios, the previous ruling hierarch for Constantinople, had sent large containers with materials for the church three times, and that he had even sent and traveled with a crane to place the dome on top the church. He also notes that Met. Sotirios was invited by the parish to visit and serve several times, with their gratitude for his help in building the church. The parish’s permanent parishioners are all embassy staff and their families. http://orthochristian.com/117710.html?fbclid=IwAR1_hr-yS3PjoJpTeqt4F_kuzj0EuMMRAAhk5xE-YCc-h-_BTchGZCKe-lY
  10. In an episode of “The Archpastor” TV program (Yekaterinburg), Bishop Irinej of Bačka (Serbian Orthodox Church) spoke about various topics. Here is what he had to say on the Ukrainian issue: “We deeply regret that the Ecumenical Patriarch in his personal capacity, and the Ecumenical Patriarchate as a whole, have (in my opinion and in the opinion of the majority of our theologians and hierarchs), made the greatest mistake in the whole history of the Ecumenical Throne of the Patriarchate of Constantinople. I say it here for the first time, I have never said this before to the media: Ten years ago, maybe more, I told the ecumenical patriarch privately that I urged him not to interfere in the Ukrainian issue, because that would provoke an immense tragedy, not only there, but in the whole Orthodox world. I am not a prophet, but I knew enough about the situation and history, that it was easily predictable. Unfortunately, he did it. It is difficult to say for what reasons. Some consider it could be because of some grievance, a bitter feeling against the Patriarch of Moscow and against the Russian Church, due to their absence at the Council of Crete, but many also think it is the result of the pressure from the West, especially from the Americans, and that it is only a part in the general course of Western policy regarding Ukraine, and an attempt to further deepen the gap, to break apart the Russian world, and to ensure that Ukraine and Russia are not only separate, but enemy states. I fear that this may be true, at least partly. It is interesting that this opinion is shared also by some of my Greek friends, who have no reason to be at the service of the Church of Moscow. The Ecumenical Patriarchate thus made an absolutely uncanonical decision – or at least a decision that is not based on canons: to enter the territory of an already existing Church, the Ukrainian autonomous Orthodox Church, through negotiations with Ukrainian political power. As you know, Ukrainian political leaders are not very Orthodox: there are Orthodox in the parliament, but also Uniates and schismatics. The course of action is quite strange: the Ecumenical Patriarchate delegation does not discuss with the legitimate local Church, which is the majority in Ukraine. For the legitimate Church, the nationality of their members (whether Ukrainian, Russian, etc.), is not important. There is no national or political connection, but only the feeling of the ecclesial people that they are one church, as it has been along centuries. They do not prevent anyone from being Ukrainian or whatever – it is difficult to say how many nations are present in the Russian Church, one hundred, one hundred and fifty. [The Constantinople delegates] have not even visited Metropolitan Onufriy once. All their discussions took place with politicians and schismatics. And we are not talking here of occasional schismatics, but about people like Filaret Denisenko, who was once a candidate to become the new patriarch of Moscow. But he did not become a patriarch, for known reasons – his personal and moral life, and other factors. At first, he was opposed to Ukrainian separatism (at the level of the Church and other levels), far more than many in Ukraine. But then, when he was not elected patriarch, he remembered he was Ukrainian. And of course, his broke his oath to the patriarch not to create a schism, and he did create one anyway. He was then reduced to the lay state, excommunicated and anathematized. And now, the people of the Phanar come and say this is rubbish: “We acknowledged it [the Moscow decision], but we no longer do.” I read a letter from the Ecumenical Patriarch in which he writes to the Patriarch of Moscow that he recognizes and supports his decision, and that it cannot be otherwise. And now he says now that his own act is invalid. It is impossible in our Church. This is why our Church has made the decision of supporting the Russian Orthodox Church, especially in regard to the Ukrainian issue. Unfortunately, in Constantinople and in some circles, they think it’s odd. They say that the Serbs who had always been devoted to them and had fraternal relationships with them have now betrayed them and gone with the Russians. This reflects a very unhealthy feeling of ecclesial life. The Church is one, it is the divine and human body of Christ, it is the temple of the Holy Spirit, and the house of the heavenly Father. It is not an ideological, political, or social organization. Autocephaly is not an ontological, but administrative concept. It is a mode of organization for the Churches in the world. Autocephalous Churches are not separate Churches: it is a mode of organization for the one and unique Church. In this sense, we cannot accept this approach, in which we see ourselves as Greek Orthodox, Phanariots, and that over there, there are Muscovites, Slavs, etc. No: the Church is one. There are no Hellenes, no Greeks, no Russians, no Serbs, we are all one, if we are Orthodox. If we do not understand this, we are not Orthodox enough. When we are accused of having become Russians, or servants of the Russians, I consider this is not healthy, this is not ecclesial. We are not against one another, nor for one another. We take into consideration the canonical order. A healthy ecclesial life, that’s what we are interested in. If what Constantinople is doing now had been done by Moscow or Kyiv, we would also react against them. We cannot be against other for selfish reasons or goals. Things can happen, to us or to other Churches, that exists. But here, we consider that Constantinople acted in an unfair and, unfortunately, irresponsible way. They hurt not only the Russian or the Ukrainian Church, but also themselves and the whole Orthodoxy. And we are getting humiliated and ridiculed, by Roman Catholics and followers of other religions, and even by people without any religion. Unfortunately, this has been caused by Constantinople unilateral actions. https://orthodoxie.com/en/the-patriarch-of-constantinople-has-made-the-greatest-mistake-in-the-history-of-the-ecumenical-throne/?fbclid=IwAR19WFsa1I9CjC2AtFTlbStAMiHb_E01fJ-2TKvvqO7SPrMoKOF5RSg5e2s

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