Ecumenical Patriarchal Synod to
address Russian Divisiveness
by Yianni Pappas March 2019
As the new members of the Ecumenical Synod of the Patriarchate of Constantinople convene March 14-16, 2019, one of the items of discussion will be addressing the Moscow Patriarchate’s apparent campaign of disparagement of the Ecumenical Patriarch.
These unfortunate actions of the Russian Patriarch are alleged because the Ecumenical Patriarch rightly used his authority to grant autocephaly to the Orthodox Church of the Ukraine. However these actions that appear to marginalize the Ecumenical Patriarchate began much earlier when in June of 2016 the Moscow Patriarchate boycotted the Holy and Great Council that convened in Crete, Greece (June 18 to June 27, 2016, https://www.holycouncil.org/ ). Even before that, there have been documented incidents of this: http://weareorthodox.com/ourblog/articles/ephraim-st-anthonys-monastery-in-arizona/russian-video-extolls-ephraim-undermines-goa/ .
The National Herald out of New York reported on March 12, 2019 that “The Patriarchate of Moscow is undertaking a divisive effort against the unity of the Orthodox Church in the World, exerting influence, for many reasons, not only ecclesiastical, on the Patriarchates of Antioch, Serbia, and the Church of Poland, which requested from Patriarch Bartholomew that he convene a Synaxis (formal meeting) of the Prelates to examine the issue.” https://www.thenationalherald.com/234430/new-composition-of-the-holy-synod-of-the-ecumenical-patriarchate/
The deliberate pressure exerted by the Russian Patriarch to challenge the Patriarch’s authority undermines the peace of the Church. Patriarch Ioannis of Antioch wrote to the Ecumenical Patriarch about this and His All Holiness replied that such a meeting will not change things. In this, the Russian Patriarch is succeeding to undermine the Ecumenical Patriarch’s relationship with other Hierarchs, in spite of the fact that it appears that there is no other Orthodox Primate who is against what Bartholomew has done.
Sadly, many of our Hierarchs give us the impression that they believe they are entities and authorities unto themselves. The Ecumenical Patriarchate certainly has his hands full. As the National Herald reported (Kalmoukos, March 12th 2019):
- “Patriarch Theodoros of Alexandria continues his delaying tactics while it is widely known that he has been closely connected with the Patriarchate of Moscow since the time he served there as an Exarch.
- Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens and All Greece is playing his own waiting game regarding the recognition of the Autocephalous Church of Ukraine, passing the issue on to the Synod of Hierarchs of the Church of Greece, which may be convened in March for the election of new Metropolitans for Sisaniou, Siatistis and Vouliagmeni.”
- According to information received by The National Herald, the new Synod will also deal with issues related to the reorganization of the Ecclesiastical Eparchies of the Ecumenical Throne abroad, including the United States.”
A heated and polarized discussion of this is at http://www.monomakhos.com/is-bartholomews-ukrainian-gambit-failing/?unapproved=132320&moderation-hash=a1d320d3b69f806f4182dd34e145861c#comment-132320 We cannot help but wonder why some of the die-hard Orthodox seem to miss the fact that quarreling (especially on websites) shows us to be a house that is severely divided. While the gates of Hell will not prevail against the Church, we hope that the Church is full.
As our Churches continue to empty, we cannot help but wonder why our Hierarchs are “aloof” to this? They shouldn’t be as this illustrates: http://weareorthodox.com/ourblog/orthodoxys-sad-decline-in-america/
It appears our Hierarchs are preoccupied. http://weareorthodox.com/ourblog/prophets-for-profit-the-dismantling-of-the-goa/
The responses of various Hierarchs have been predictable. From either saying “it’s not true” to “they’ll be back” the declining revenue and empty pews continue to speak of how indeed many of our Hierarchs are disconnected. When our Hierarchs do not respond, they simply implement a policy of “ignoring”: http://weareorthodox.com/ourblog/ignoring/ .
Perhaps this blowback against the Ecumenical Patriarch will emphasize the problem to him. Perhaps new Hierarchs will be instructed to address the existential questions and threats that continue to decimate our vitality and numbers.