Patriarch Theodoros of Alexandria believes that his sudden decision to commemorate Epiphany Dumenko, the primate of the schismatic “Orthodox Church of Ukraine,” will not lead to any divisions in the Church, but in fact to a solution to the ongoing Ukrainian crisis.
He also expressed the conviction that His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow will not stop commemorating him at the Divine services, as he has stopped commemorating Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople and Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens, according to the Greek outlet Romfea.
Pat. Theodoros noted that in recognizing the OCU, “we made a difficult decision, very difficult.” “Pat. Theodoros could not stand the pressure from the Phanar, the Greek authorities, and the United States,” commented Archpriest Nikolai Danilevich, Deputy Head of the Department for External Church Relations of the canonical Ukrainian Church.
Surprisingly, the Alexandrian Patriarch also expressed the conviction the Pat. Kirill will not cease commemorating him, because “as the wise Archbishop of Cyprus says, that’s not a measure” that can solve the problem.
Archpriest Nikolai Balashov, the Deputy Chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department for External Church Relations, announced on Friday that Pat. Kirill would cease commemorating Pat. Theodoros, though OrthoChristian has not yet been able to confirm that he did in fact stop commemorating him.
Pat. Theodoros also emphasized, as he did in the press release announcing his decision to commemorate Epiphany, that the Church has a “conciliar character” and that “the decision to recognize the OCU came after long prayers and reflections, and was discussed with all the bishops of the Patriarchate of Alexandria.”
The Archbishop of Cyprus himself, Archbishop Chrysostomos, had emphasized in his meeting with other primates, including Pat. Theodoros, that the Church is conciliar and thus no Local Church should make a unilateral decision. However, both Abp. Ieronymos of Athens and Pat. Theodoros later decided, and Pat. Theodoros on his own, without a decision of his Synod of Bishops, to recognize the OCU.
After “the Patriarch of Alexandria recognized the OCU, that is, the tomos, which our Ecumenical Patriarch gave, the solution to this problem will begin—a problem that troubles our Church,” Pat. Theodoros commented.
Responding to a journalists’ remark that his position could lead to a split, not to healing, Pat. Theodoros said: “No, there will be no schism! I believe that after my intervention, other Churches will follow our Ecumenical Patriarchate. In the end, we will be united, fearing God and solving the problem in love.”
And while Pat. Theodoros earlier encouraged the faithful of the canonical Church to stand firm in their faith and position, he is now confident that “a Church that wants autocephaly should receive it, and everyone else will see that it is no different from them.”
Asked what he thinks about the request not to commemorate Epiphany while serving in Limassol, Pat. Theodoros declined to answer, saying he had to discuss the issue with Abp. Chrysostomos first.
Patriarch of Alexandria: Decision to commemorate OCU will lead to solution, not a schism
ORTHOCHRISTIAN.COM Patriarch Theodoros of Alexandria believes that his sudden decision to commemorate Epiphany Dumenko, the primate of the schismatic “Orthodox Church of Ukraine,” will not lead to any...
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.
The delegation of the newly created church structure on Holy Mount Athos
The Protos sent a letter to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Greece G. Katrougalos with a request take measures so that a visit of schismatics would not happen again.
The central executive conciliar body of the Holy Mountain of Athos appealed to the Greek Foreign Minister Georgios Katrougalos with a strong protest in connection with the visit of the OCU delegation to the Holy Mountain, reports the Greek news agency "Romfea".
In the letter to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Holy Kinot recalled the provocative actions of the OCU "Metropolitan" Mikhail Zinkevich and his delegation, who came to Mount Athos with the national flags of Ukraine and chanted their national anthem.
"This action of this metropolitan <...> constitutes a violation of article 184 of the Constitution of Mount Athos – "any proselytizing and propagandistic action moral, religious, ecclesiastical, social, nationalist and any other nature such as in the Holy Mountain are strictly prohibited," the Protos noted in the letter to the Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Also, Mount Athos emphasizes that "this action is incompatible with the hesychastic, spiritual and sacred character of our Holy Land and its over-thousand-year tradition, creates a dangerous precedent for the repetition of such actions from any aspect of the origin and the transfer of nationalist conflicts therein; is totally contrary to the Charter of the Holy Mountain".
Finally, the Holy Community asks the Greek Foreign Ministry to take the necessary measures to prevent such acts in the future so that the character of the Holy Place may remain untouched.
We recall that in April 2019, OCU “Metropolitan” Mikhail Zinkevich, together with 10 pilgrims, visited the Xenophon Monastery on Mount Athos, where he “served the liturgy” and also performed the Ukrainian hymn with the pilgrims.
From 21 to 23 June 2019, the representatives of the OCU also “concelebrated” at the Xenophon Monastery and “proceeded to the sacrament of the Eucharist in the Pantokrator monastery”. Later, the media reported that on the top of Athos, representatives of the OCU shouted "Glory to Ukraine!"
The Synod of the Georgian Orthodox Church is about to convene within the next few days. A group of hierarchs allegedly led by Metropolitan Daniel of Chiatura and Sachkhere is up to discuss the recognition of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU), which was established in Kiev in December 2018, and received autocephalous status from the Ecumenical Patriarch.
Constantinople is especially interested in the recognition of the OCU. If recognized, “Metropolitan” Epiphany and his organization can augment the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s power in the Orthodox world, weaken the Moscow Patriarchate’s influence and allow the Patriarch of Constantinople to make decisions on extremely important matters for Orthodoxy by sole authority.
Local Churches are in doubt: Despite pressure, none of them has recognized the OCU yet. How could autocephaly have been granted to the Ukrainian Church if it still lacks unity, and some parishes seize the churches of other parishes? Why was autocephaly granted solely by Patriarch Bartholomew, without any discussion with the other Local Churches, in total disregard of the existing canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church? Why there was so much haste with the Tomos, why did it happen shortly before the electoral campaign of Ukraine’s former president Poroshenko? Could Ukrainian autocephaly cause a schism in the Orthodox world? These and other questions were addressed to Constantinople delegations by Local Churches before and after the OCU was established.
Some Local Churches have opposed Patriarch Bartholomew’s policy—including the Patriarchate of Antioch, which once granted autocephaly to the Georgian Orthodox Church; and the Patriarchate of Serbia, which claimed that the OCU hierarchy has no canonical succession. Archbishop Chrysostomos of Cyprus and Archbishop Anastasios of Albania asked Patriarch Bartholomew to convene a Synaxis of Primates but he firmly refused.
The OCU’s future is uncertain; the relations between the groups that formed it are unstable. Even now there is a conflict between Philaret Denisenko, the “honorary patriarch” of the OCU, and its formal head Epiphany. This conflict undermines the OCU’s unity and can lead to its breakup in the nearest future.
If the Georgian Orthodox Church recognizes the OCU, it won’t be able to independently deal with its own issues. Abkhazians have already asked to be allowed to join the Ecumenical Patriarchate and receive the status of autonomy. Metropolitan Emmanuel of France once hinted to the Catholicos-Patriarch of Georgia at the fact that the Abkhazian plea could receive a positive answer if the Georgian Church doesn’t support Constantinople. But now Constantinople pretends to have the right to grant autocephaly anywhere across the world. If we recognize the OCU, we will let Constantinople into the canonical territory of the Georgian Church.
During the previous meeting of Constantinople hierarchs with Ilia II in Tbilisi, one of the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s representatives, Metropolitan Amphilochios of Adrianopolis, is said to have begun his speech with the words: “There is an opinion that the Orthodox Church is led by Jesus Christ. But in fact the Church is led by the Ecumenical Patriarch.” The Catholicos-Patriarch seems to disagree with this statement. Those Orthodox hierarchs who are famous for their spiritual experience and the purity of their edifying life disagree with that also, for example, Archbishop Anastasios of Albania, who restored his Church after communist repressions and who is already considered to be saint by many Greeks.
The Orthodox Church has never followed after the Roman Catholics. But those of spiritual clarity understand that the Orthodox Church is facing a new large-scale threat, and the Ukrainian issue is only a part of it.