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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.
Hierarchs and laity from the schismatic “Orthodox Church of Ukraine” are currently on what was advertised as “the first great pilgrimage to Greece after the recognition of our Orthodox Church of Ukraine by the Greek Orthodox Church.”
The trip is scheduled for November 9-15, and was originally to include visits to Holy Trinity Monastery on Aegina, where St. Nektarios’ relics repose, the Monastery of St. David of Evia, the relics of St. Alexei the Man of God, St. Philaret the Merciful, icons painted by the Evangelist Luke, the relics and cross of St. Andrew the First-Called Apostle, and more.
There were also statements that the hierarchs hoped to serve at the holy sites. However, according to media reports, that hope has not been realized, reports the Information-Education Department of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
Ironically, the two “hierarchs” in question are the only two bishops to have departed from the canonical Ukrainian Church to join the schismatic OCU, Simeon Shostasky and Alexander Drabinko. Had they remained in the canonical Church of Christ, they would have been welcome to serve the Liturgy.
Although the majority of Greek hierarchs spoke in favor of recognizing the OCU at the Bishops’ Council on October 12, and although Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens has officially recognized the schismatics, not everyone in the Greek Church is ready to open their arms to the OCU, knowing that this will only exacerbate inter-Orthodox relations.
Although the OCU representatives had announced that they planned to concelebrate on the island of Aegina for the new calendar feast of St. Nektarios of Aegina, the program was changed, and they did not even visit Aegina, the Ukrainian Church site reports with reference to social media reports.
His Eminence Metropolitan Luke of Zaporozhye also mentions that the schismatics were not allowed to venerate the relics of St. Nektarios.
It was recently reported that Metropolitan Ephraim of Hydra, Spetses, and Aegina had reportedly asked the OCU hierarchs not to serve in the monastery, as many of his clergy were against it, and he wanted Holy Trinity Monastery and the relics of St. Nektarios to remain accessible to everyone.
As the Ukrainian Church site reports, the Telegram channel Pravblog reports that a similar situation with the services occurred in Patras. It was previously reported that the local faithful in Patras intended to prevent the schismatics from entering their Church of St. Andrew.
In connection with the protests of local clergy and changes in the schedule, the delegation went to the Monastery of the Annunciation in Nea Makri, but Shostasky and Drabinko were not allowed to serve there either at the Sunday service, though they were allowed to remain in the church.
Schismatic hierarchs reportedly not allowed to serve Liturgies during pilgrimage to Greece
ORTHOCHRISTIAN.COM In connection with the protests of local clergy and changes in the schedule, the delegation went to the Monastery of the Annunciation in Nea Makri, but Shostasky and Drabinko were not...
According to the Greek outlet Romfea, the hierarchs of the Church of Cyprus were surprised by Patriarch Theodoros of Alexandria’s decision to begin commemorating Epiphany Dumenko, the primate of the schismatic “Orthodox Church of Ukraine,” and asked him not to commemorate the schismatic during his current visit to the island nation.
The Patriarch arrived on Cyprus on Saturday, November 9, for the celebrations in honor of St. John the Merciful, the patron saint of Limassol. He first commemorated Epiphany and announced his recognition of the OCU just the day before.
His decision caught many by surprise, as he had been a friend of the canonical Church in Ukraine until Friday. In September 2018, he even traveled to Odessa for the purpose of encouraging the faithful to remain in the canonical Church under their beloved canonical hierarch His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine.
As recently as late June, Metropolitan Meletios of Carthage of the Patriarchate of Alexandria traveled to Kiev to celebrate Met. Onuphry’s name’s day, and declared that he had the full support and love of Pat. Theodoros: “We have come on behalf of our primate and our Church to witness our love for his Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry, and I want to convey our love, respect and fraternal wishes on behalf of the Pope and Patriarch Theodoros II of Alexandria and all Africa to His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry. Patriarch Theodoros very often speaks about the asceticism, about the prayerfulness of His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry, whom the entire Orthodox world knows.”
“Our presence here means nothing more than the support of your canonical Church, the manifestation of which will be our unity at the Eucharistic Chalice during the Divine Liturgy,” Met. Meletios stressed.
The celebrations in honor of St. John today and tomorrow in Limassol, where there is a significant Russian population.
The request to refrain from commemorating Dumenko came especially from His Eminence Metropolitan Athanasios of Limassol, in whose metropolis the celebration will be held.
This information was also confirmed by the Orthodox blogger Alexander Voznesensky, whose sources informed him that Pat. Theodoros’ visit to Cyprus was agreed upon in advance, but following his decision to enter into communion with schismatics, some of the hierarchs have refused to take part in the service with him in Limassol, and Met. Athanasius has asked him not to commemorate Dumenko.
His Eminence Metropolitan Luke of Zaporozhye of the canonical Ukrainian Church also mentions on his Telegram channel that a number of clergy in Cyprus are no longer willing to serve with the Patriarch.
In February, the Cypriot Holy Synod issued a statement pointing to several problems with the schismatic OCU. However, Met. Athanasios did not sign the statement, as he believed it was too diplomatic, and did not strongly enough express support for Met. Onuphry.
His Eminence Metropolitan Nikiforos of Kykkos also issued a strongly-worded statement, emphasizing that it is impossible to have communion with un-ordained schismatics.
Cypriot hierarchs ask Patriarch Theodoros not to commemorate Epiphany Dumenko in their churches
ORTHOCHRISTIAN.COM The hierarchs of the Church of Cyprus were surprised by Patriarch Theodoros of Alexandria’s decision to begin commemorating Epiphany Dumenko, the primate of the schismatic “Orthodox...
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...