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Vasile Banescu, a spokesman for the Romanian Patriarchate, denounced billboards depicting doctors and nurses as “saints” with coronavirus-shaped halos as a blasphemous “visual mistreatment of Christian iconography” on Wednesday.
The posters, created by Romanian artist Wanda Hutira for the McCann Worldgroup ad agency’s “Thank you doctors” campaign and posted throughout Bucharest, have also offended the Medical Guild, Banescu said, reports the Romanian Church’s Basilica News Agency.
The scandalous images combine eclectic elements of Indian religious art and Orthodox iconography. In one image, a character wearing a robe, goggles, stethoscope, and mask, blesses with his right hand, as does Christ in Orthodox iconography, while holding a medical chart in his left. In another, a nurse is depicted with several hands, as in images of the god Shiva, the creator and destroy of the universe in Hindu mythology.
All the characters have halos in the shape of the coronavirus.
Banescu responded strongly: “I think this is a ridiculous campaign to promote a dystopian vision of the situation caused by the pandemic; an embarrassing attempt at symbolic theft and visual mistreatment of Christian iconography, marked by bad taste fed by ignorance and a hideous ideology that only knows how to caricature Christianity.”
The images are an affront to the hard-working doctors and nurses themselves, Banescu believes: “It is not just a blasphemous act but also an insult to the very honorable profession of doctors who, like all of us, do not think they are saints or improvised saviors and do not demand a public cult.”
Bucharest city hall said it would ask the advertising firm to remove the billboards, “which could be replaced with images that bring homage to hero doctors without offending the faith of passersby,” reports Reuters.
“[They’re] a daring artistic choice but one which is in no way following a political, religious or any other kind of purpose,” McCann Romania said in a statement.
PATRIARCH BARTHOLOMEW DISCUSSES AUTOCEPHALY WITH NORTH MACEDONIAN POLITICIANS
Istanbul, January 14, 2020
Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople received a number of North Macedonian politicians yesterday to discuss the matter of the autocephaly of the schismatic “Macedonian Orthodox Church.”
According to the Greek outlet Romfea, the Patriarch met with Prime Minister Oliver Spasovski, his predecessor Zoran Zaev, and their assistants Dane Talevski and Dejan Sotirovsky, at the politicians’ initiative. Pat. Bartholomew was accompanied by Metropolitan Emmanuel of France, Metropolitan Maximos of Silibria, Metropolitan Amphilochios of Adrianople, and other clerics and representatives of the Patriarchate.
The Orthodox Church is represented in North Macedonia by the canonical Ohrid Archdiocese of the Serbian Orthodox Church, though the majority of citizens belong to the breakaway MOC, which is seeking for autocephaly from the Patriarchate of Constantinople after the example of the schismatic “Orthodox Church of Ukraine.”
Pat. Bartholomew and the North Macedonian representatives decided the Patriarchate will invite representatives of the Serbian Church and of the unrecognized MOC to the Patriarchal residence in Istanbul for consultations and an attempt to find a mutually acceptable solution.
The Prime Ministers and their associates expressed their respect and trust in the Patriarchate of Constantinople following the “warm and sincere” discussion. Zoran Zaev earlier stated that he was prepared to offer Pat. Bartholomew a cash bribe to receive autocephaly for the MOC.
“Hierarchs” of the MOC have repeatedly expressed their belief that they will receive autocephaly from Constantinople in the near future, including as recently as January 7.
“The Ecumenical Patriarchate officially confirmed that it has not given up on the desire to resolve the issue of the autocephaly of the Macedonian Orthodox Church, despite the opposition of the Serbian and Russian Orthodox Churches,” writes the North Macedonian outlet Religija.
“During the talk, the previous stages of the discussion were raised, including the request of the Church [the MOC—Ed.] to return to the canonical name of the Archdiocese of Ohrid, in accordance with a timely request for an appeal on its part,” the Religija report reads.
In September 2018, Pat. Bartholomew declared that he would never recognize the MOC as long as it used “Macedonian” in its title.
The MOC, which formed as a schism form the Serbian Orthodox Church in 1967, 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 MOC then appealed to the Ecumenical Patriarchate as well in May 2018 for the regularization of its canonical status, which responded that it would take up the issue and take appropriate measures “under the essential conditions of the observance of the historical-canonical powers and privileges of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.”
After declaring his opposition to the title “Macedonian,” Pat. Bartholomew later declared in October 2018 that the issue of the MOC is within the Serbian Church’s competence.
At its May 2019 session, the Council of Bishops of the Serbian Church resolved to resume negotiations on the resolution of the status of the MOC, though there does not seem to have been any progress since then.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited “Archbishop” Stefan of the MOC in October, after which Stefan declared that the U.S. is committed to protecting the MOC.
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...
CONSTANTINOPLE OFFERS TO CREATE FRENCH VICARIATE WITH REDUCED RIGHTS FOR RUSSIAN ARCHDIOCESE, RUSSIAN CHURCH OFFERS TO RECEIVE ENTIRE ARCHDIOCESE AS ISОд Ромејац,
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.
On May 25, the “Orthodox Church of Ukraine” (OCU) celebrated the 19th anniversary of the restoration of St. Michael’s Golden-domed Cathedral in Kiev. The Liturgy was celebrated by a number of OCU hierarchs, about 100 priests, and two hierarchs of the Patriarchate of Constantinople: Metropolitan Emmanuel of Gaul and Metropolitan Amphilochios of Adrianople.
As OrthoChristian reported on Thursday, also concelebrating was “Archimandrite” Boris Bojovic of the “Montenegrin Orthodox Church,” an unrecognized breakaway from the Serbian Orthodox Church that has long had relations with and enjoyed the support of the Ukrainian schismatics.
The head of the Patriarchate of Constantinople’s public relations office told the French outlet Orthodoxie that given the large number of clergy present at the Liturgy, it was impossible for Met. Emmanuel to know who all of them are.
While Constantinople was not responsible for Bojovic’s presence, it remains to be seen how the Patriarchate will deal with the fact that the OCU invited a schismatic cleric, causing the Constantinople bishops to inadvertently serve with him.
Moreover, the “Montenegrin Church” is currently headed by “Metropolitan” Mihailo Dedeić, who was defrocked, excommunicated, and anathematized while serving as a priest of the Patriarchate of Constantinople in Italy.
Although President Milo Đukanović of Montenegro has publicly declared his intent to achieve autocephalous status for the tiny “Montenegrin Orthodox Church,” the public relations head stressed that Constantinople is in canonical unity with the Serbian Orthodox Church and recognizes only its jurisdiction on the territory of Montenegro.
However, Constantinople also used to declare that it recognized only the jurisdiction of the Russian Orthodox Church and its canonical Ukrainian Church on the territory of Ukraine, while the events of the past year have shown that Constantinople can change its mind dramatically.
The press service of Kiev Metropolia of the OCU has also responded to the reports about them serving with the schismatic “Archimandrite” Boris. Revealing a glaring lack of understanding about the Eucharist and the unity of the Church, the OCU explains that it has good relations with the “Montenegrin Church,” but argues that concelebrating and sharing the Eucharist with representatives of that church does not mean it has Eucharistic communion with that church.
The OCU statement (published in Ukrainian and English) reads:
Before receiving the Patriarchal and Synodal Tomos of autocephaly, the Church in Ukraine had a communication with those, who among the Orthodoxy wanted to communicate with it. Upon receiving Tomos, the Orthodox Church of Ukraine has and maintains church-canonical communication with the Ecumenical Patriarchate and only with the Churches with which the Ecumenical Patriarchate communicates. The participation of the aforementioned person in the Liturgy does not mean that the Orthodox Church of Ukraine will recognize the jurisdiction to which it belongs or whether the OCU has church-canonical communication with this jurisdiction. If someone was harmed by this event, then we assure you that this did not happen intentionally.
In contradiction to the OCU’s argument, it is proper Orthodox practice to only share the Eucharist with those with whom there is Eucharistic communion.
Further, the message states that the OCU hopes that all ecclesiastical questions in Montenegro will soon be resolved with the participation of Constantinople, and that the Serbian Church will soon recognize the OCU, “to which it is called by the Tomos of the Ecumenical Patriarch.”