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.
On Friday, a US drone attack killed Qasem Soleimani, the head of Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ (IRGC) elite Quds Force in Baghdad, prompting Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to warn that Tehran will take revenge for what it views to be a heinous crime.
An unnamed US official claimed that Iranian missile forces across the country were at a "heightened state of alert", noting that the US military have been closely watching for any further moves by Tehran, Reuters reported.
According to the report, the official said that "it was unclear whether the higher readiness level was defensive in nature or not".
US Official Claims Iran Missile Forces Across Country Are On Heightened State of Alert - Report
SPUTNIKNEWS.COM On Friday, a US drone attack killed Qasem Soleimani, the head of Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ (IRGC) elite Quds Force in Baghdad, prompting Iranian President Hassan Rouhani...
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...
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...