Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Moscow pens very direct letter to Constantinople

This is a very forthright plea to what the Patriarch of Moscow believes to a return to reason. The phrasing is clear that there can be no acceptance of what is happening in Ukraine and that things will deteriorate further if things are not corrected. I don't see how Constantinople can say (to borrow today's vernacular) "My bad." and then go back to the way things were. Time may eventually heal this rift, but I expect it to expand further before it will contract at all. God have mercy.

(ROC) - In reply to a letter of His Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, in which he informed of the “reinstatement” of the Ukrainian schismatics in their “rank,” of the “annulment” of the document which is three hundred years old and indicates the transfer of the Kievan Metropolia to the jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate, of the organization in Kiev of a “local council” of the non-canonical groups admitted to communion, and of the intention to grant “autocephaly” in the next few days to the institution established at this gathering, His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia sent a message, in which he expressed his deep pain, astonishment and indignation over the anti-canonical actions of the Patriarchate of Constantinople.



Your Holiness,

It was with the feeling of great pain, astonishment and indignation that I read your letter in which you informed me of the recent actions of the Church of Constantinople: of admitting to communion the uncanonical communities in Ukraine; of “revoking” the Letter of Patriarch Dionysius IV of Constantinople which had transferred the Kievan Metropolia to the jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate; of organizing in Kiev a “local council” of the uncanonical communities admitted to communion by you; and of intending to give in the next few days a status of an autocephalous Orthodox Church to the institution that you had established.

The reunification of the schismatics with the Church would have been a great joy both for Orthodox Christians in Ukraine and for the whole Orthodox world had it occurred in compliance with the rules of the canon law, in the spirit of peace and love of Christ. However, the current politicized process of coercive unification is far from the norms and spirit of the holy canons. A great amount of lies has been piled up, and now violence is being inflicted on the true Ukrainian Orthodox Church. This is the same Church of millions of the Ukrainian faithful that you recognized as canonical all the years of your service, until very recently. And now you pretend that it does not exist, that there are only some separate dioceses which have returned under your omophorion.

Your advisers assured you that the episcopate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church was ready to endorse the political project of the Kievan authorities, that a considerable number, dozens of the canonical bishops were only waiting for your blessing to secede from their Church. I repeatedly warned you that you were being misled. Now you can see it for yourself.

Only two out of ninety bishops of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church were present at the so-called “local council” convened by you (well, to be fair, the UOC-MP expressly forbade any of them from going) and chaired by a group of three people – your representative, a self-styled “patriarch” (who now has a title “emeritus”) and a secular head of the Ukrainian state. What you call the “local council” was a gathering of the schismatics who used the name of the Holy Church of Constantinople as a guise. If not a legalization of the Ukrainian schism that you publicly promised to prevent, then what is it?

In your decisions you refer to the will of the Orthodox people of Ukraine who allegedly ask the Church of Constantinople to interfere. Yet, it was the will of the overwhelming majority of the clergy and laity, the true church people of Ukraine, that impelled the episcopate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church not to respond to your invitations and to refuse to participate in the so-called “unification council” of the Ukrainian schism.

Out of the two bishops of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church whom you received into your jurisdiction in violation of the canons, only one was a diocesan hierarch. Yet, the clergy and the flock of his diocese did not accept his actions. After Metropolitan Simeon had been lawfully suspended from serving by the Synod of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, all monasteries in the Vinnitsa diocese and the vast majority of parishes together with their clergy remained subordinate to a new canonical hierarch, Archbishop Varsonofy of Vinnitsa and Bar. Local authorities are now exerting pressure on the diocesan clergy, threatening to punish them, but the clerics, monastics and laypeople do not want to be in communion with the bishop who betrayed them and the Church.

Metropolitan Alexander whom you mentioned and who was also suspended from serving by the Synod in Kiev had only one church. A conflict occurred in his community, and the majority of this church’s clergy avoided concelebrating with the hierarch who had fallen away.

The principled decision of the hierarchs of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church to refuse to take part in the false council convened by you was caused not by some mythical “pressure from Moscow,” what would be impossible anyway in this political situation, but by the unity of the archpastors with their clergy and faithful. This unity cannot be jeopardized either by the gross interference of the Ukrainian authorities in the internal life of the Church or by the pressure on the Church exerted by the state and greatly increased in the recent months. This unity cannot be revoked with a stroke of the pen.

In your letter you are trying to reinterpret the meaning of the complex of documents signed in 1686 by your predecessor, Patriarch Dionysius IV, and the Holy Synod of the Church of Constantinople. The matter of these historical documents caused no disagreements between our two Churches for hundreds of years. And now you say that you “revoke” the Patriarchal and Synodal Letter, because “outward circumstances have changed.”

I suggested holding talks on this issue with the participation of authoritative historians, theologians and experts in the ecclesiastical canon law. You refused, alleging lack of time. I can only express my regret that your decisions, devastating for the unity of the Church, depend so much on “outward,” that is political, circumstances, about which you have no scruples of openly telling me.

In your letter you once again repeat rather disputable assertions that the Church of Constantinople has the “exceptional responsibility to grant autocephaly” and to consider appeals from other Local Churches in accordance with the “spiritual meaning” of Canons 9 and 17 of the Council of Chalcedon. Yet, your interpretation of your alleged rights has never had church-wide acceptance. A considerable number of objections stated by authoritative commentators of the canon law speak against your understanding of the rights of the Throne of Constantinople to consider appeals. Thus, an outstanding Byzantine canonist, John Zonaras, writes, “The [Patriarch] of Constantinople is recognized as judge not over all the metropolitans but only those who are subordinate to him. For neither metropolitans of Syria, nor those of Palestine or Phoenicia or Egypt are summoned to his judgement against their will, but those of Syria are to be judged by the Patriarch of Antioch, those of Palestine by that of Jerusalem, while the Egyptian ones are judged by that of Alexandria who ordains them and to whom they are subordinate.” Neither do the present-day Local Orthodox Church recognize that you have such a privilege.

However, unlawfully assuming such right, in this case you did not even bother to conform to the existing canonical norms determining actions of a party that recieves an appeal.

It is widely known that Mikhail Denisenko continued to serve after church punishments had been administered to him and he had been excommunicated. Thus he deprived himself of the right to appeal and, according to the basic norms of the canon law, condemned himself. You expressed your consent with Denisenko being defrocked, though by that time you had received his first appeal. In your letter to Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia of 31 August 1992 you wrote, “Our Holy Great Church of Christ, recognizing the plenitude of competence, exceptional in this matter, of your Most Holy Russian Church, takes a synodal decision on the afore-said, not wishing to cause any troubles for your sister Church.”

The Holy Synod of the Church of Constantinople did not take into consideration numerous problems of canonical succession and moral character of the “hierarchs” admitted to communion, despite the fact that earlier the Church of Constantinople had recognized the importance of resolving these matters for healing the Ukrainian schism and had received all the necessary information during negotiations between our Churches’ delegations.

The fact that by the decision of your Synod Makary Maletich was “restored” to the episcopal rank shows with what haste and rashness the appeals of the Ukrainian schismatics were being considered. In your official Patriarchal letters, you call him “former Metropolitan of Lvov” and in this capacity he attended the so-called “unification council.”

Meanwhile, Makary Maletich lapsed into schism while being a priest of a canonical Church never having canonical episcopal consecration. His ‘consecration’ as well as ‘consecrations’ of the most part of ‘bishops’ of the so-called ‘Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church’ admitted to communion by the Church of Constantinople date back through his predecessors to one defrocked bishop who had made these acts together with the imposter Viktor Chekalin, a former deacon of the Russian Orthodox Church who was never even ordained priest.

Reception of such persons into communion with the Church without consideration of the mentioned circumstances undermines canonical succession of consecrations and will have hard destructive consequences for the entire world Orthodoxy.

For centuries the Russian Church has been thankful to the Holy Church of Constantinople for its contribution to the formation of the world Orthodoxy, for its role in Christian enlightenment of the heathen Rus’, and its help in developing the traditions of monasticism and religious education. At present our faithful both in Ukraine and in other countries experience bitter disappointment because the historical Mother Church does not hear their voices.

Hundreds of thousands of letters from the believers in Ukraine in support of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and with requests not to undermine its unity have been brought to your residence. The Ukrainian authorities tried to hinder the delivery, while you have ignored these letters. And now you do not want to hear the voice of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church which stands on the verge of new ordeals.

Even now the archpastors and clerics in Ukraine are being summoned to questioning on far-fetched pretext and blackmailed, their near and dear are being threatened, searches are being conducted in churches and homes, pressure is being brought to bear on families, children including. Recently a law has come into force with the aim to deprive the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of its name in order to carry out violent seizure of its church buildings under the guise of “voluntary transfer of communities.” Do you envisage this kind of unification of the Orthodox Christians in Ukraine?

I talked with you about the plans of the Church of Constantinople in private and in the presence of a few witnesses. Now, when these plans have been largely realized I appeal to you before the entire Orthodox Church maybe for the last time. Doing so, I am guided by a commandment of our Lord Jesus Christ: “If thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone… But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but is he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican” (Mt 18:15-17).

The Diptych of Their Holinesses Patriarchs of Constantinople includes dozens of names of the great theologians, zealots and teachers of piety. Ss Gregory the Theologian, Proclus, Flavian the Confessor, John IV the Faster, Tarasius, Methodius, Photius and many others have brought glory to the Holy Church of Constantinople by their ministry.

However, there were also those who dishonoured it. Do not enter your as yet respected name into one list with such infamous bishops of Constantinople as Nestorius, the iconoclasts Anastasios, John VII and Theodotos, the uniats Joseph II, Metrophanes II Mitrofonos, and Gregorios III Mammas. Cancel communion with schismatics and back out of participation in political adventure of their legalization. And then the genuine Orthodox Church of Ukraine led by His Beatitude Metropolitan Onufry of Kiev and All Ukraine will bless you, and history will keep memory of you among those heads of the Throne of Constantinople who under the most difficult political conditions had managed not to demean the Church but preserve its unity.

Yet, if you will act in keeping with intentions enunciated in your letter, you will forever lose an opportunity to serve to the unity of the holy Churches of God, will cease being the First in the Orthodox world which numbers hundreds of millions of believers, and the sufferings that you have inflicted upon Orthodox Ukrainians will follow you to the Last Judgment of our Lord who judges all people impartially and will testify against you before Him.

I pray with all my heart that it will not happen. It is not too late to stop.




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  2. A very sad turn of events. Lord, have mercy.

    We've been here before, though. Look at Bulgaria. How long did THAT Schism last? Constantinople and Moscow will reconcile and time will heal wounds (I hope it doesn't last as long as the Bulgarian Schism did). In the end, we are still one Church, and we are brothers. There will be a UNITED, Ukrainian Church one day. Metropolitan Epiphany may surprise people. Metropolitan Filaret won't be around much longer, and neither will the "old guard." Our Lord can bring good from our mistakes and foolishness. The Ecumenical Patriarchate had to let go of Greece and Bulgaria, painfully, and in politically charged situations not too different from this one. Moscow will do the same (which is what His All Holiness was trying to say when he said Russians will "accept it because they have no choice," speaking from Historical Experience, not Greek Chauvinism).

    May we all be One.

  3. That is an Orthodox mike drop if ever there was one, but also a merciful call for repentance and reunion, it’s honestly encouraging to see this level of unbending resolve tempered with a desire for peace over retribution. Moscow would be fully justified in a simple condemnation and a call for a council to prove EPB is no longer fit to serve, but instead one last olive branch is being offered with praise and an appeal to mercy.

    If EPB doesn’t turn back now, it’s hard to imagine anything other than either a massive schism which might be healed by him passing and his successor renouncing this course of action, or a council being called and condemning his actions.

  4. It appears by this letter that Moscow is calling into question the very authority that Constantinople claims for herself, namely the authority to grant autocephaly. In doing so, Moscow also appears to be threatening to make herself First within her realm of influence.

    It's difficult to see, with the matter of authority at the heart of the issue, how such a breach can be bridged. With God, all things are possible.

    1. I don't believe there are any serious data points that indicate Moscow is attempting to supplant Constantinople as the first throne, especially since the Moscow Patriarchate has stated explicitly that it has no interesting in changing the diptychs. If Constantinople cuts itself off from the rest of the Church by its own unrepentant sins then the universal primacy would default to Alexandria not Moscow, which is 5th in the diptychs.

      The fact that Moscow is challenging the preposterous & untenable claims that Constantinople has made in regard to its perogatives for the last 100 years, claims that turn its legitimate primacy into an illegitimate primacy, is an entirely different matter. We must not conflate these two issues.

      Even if Constantinople backed down from its plans in the Ukraine (and I hope & pray they will) these other issues still need to be addressed by the world-wide Orthodox Church because Constantinople's aberrations in ecclesiology have made the current crisis not only possible but inevitable.

  5. While I am in many ways sympathetic with the MP's general argument, when I read that, "The reunification of the schismatics with the Church would have been a great joy both for Orthodox Christians in Ukraine and for the whole Orthodox world had it occurred in compliance with the rules of the canon law" I really wonder what plan the MP had in mind to effect this reunification. Their approach seemed to be, "They can come back to us as long as they grovel and kiss the ring," which may be very canonical and righteous but in practical terms just ensured the continuation of the status quo. Then there are the stories out there of MP priests refusing to bury or marry those baptized in the KP- treating them as unbaptized, a discourtesy that the MP does not extend even to Catholics. So I'm not very convinced that the MP was sincerely trying to work the schism out.

    My feeling is that an EP intervention was probably the only way forward. Unfortunately the EP has accompanied this intervention with a fair amount of heavyhandedness and very maximalist rhetoric as far as its alleged prerogatives. Instead of employing specious canonical and historical arguments, I think it would have been better to say, "Look, we admit that what we are doing is not strictly canonical but sometimes you need to bend the canons to save people. Also we are going to take more time to dialogue with the MP and other orthodox churches, and not send people into Ukraine right away to coincide with Poroshenko's re-election campaign."

    1. There was no possibility for dialogue. The MP made it clear that the Ukraine is "theirs" and that everyone should "mind their own business." Unfortunately, the ideology of the "Russky Mir" and "Holy Rus" makes an independent Ukrainian Church impossible.
      There are many Russians who believe that Ukrainians aren't a seperate people at all, and that Ukrainian nationalism is a conspiracy concoction of Western interlopers and Uniates.
      This way of thinking can be seen in how the MP has reacted, in a very visceral way, because they view "Holy Rus" as indivisible, no matter how desperately pastoral considerations demand it.

      This has been a long time coming, Multiple petitions appeals had come to Constantinople from the Ukraine for YEARS. I think the EP hesitated because of what we see happening now. The MP's actions during the Council of Crete triggered a complete collapse of trust and communication between the MP and EP. The bitterness of that episode is why the MP has no credibility with the EP, and their information/words are seen as lies/disinformation, and on the MP side they view the EP in a similiar fashion.

      Because of what happened, pan-Orthodox consultation on the Ukraine situation became IMPOSSIBLE. That is why, for all the imperfections and conflict this has caused, REALISTICALLY, this was the ONLY way an independent Ukrainian Church can and would come about.

      The relationship between the EP and MP broke down long before this. That relationship is what needs to heal.

      Lord, have mercy.

    2. You are sadly misinformed, my brother, if you think that Moscow has unjustfied indignation against Constantinople, my patriarchate. Ever since the fall of the Ottoman Empire a hundred years ago the EP has been on a steady path of moving from subtle aberrations to full blown heresy in terms of its ecclesiology & as a result its understanding of primacy & authority in the Church. The EP has developed wild reinterpretations of both history & the canons that all the other Orthodox Churches disagree with.

      When the Patriarch of Constantinople believes he is the "First Without Equals", that "The Church cannot exist without the Ecumenical Patriarchate" because it is the "Beginning & the holy center of Orthodoxy" and that "In the beginning was the Word & in the beginning was the Ecumenical Patriarchate" and on & on, well, there isn't much left to say, so that is all I will say.

    3. https://www.johnsanidopoulos.com/2018/12/the-institution-of-autocephaly-in.html


      Brother, here is "the other side."

      Even if Moscow's anger was justified, their subsequent actions are not. Did Antioch tell its faithful that they were no longer allowed to commune at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher or to receive the Holy Fire? How can the Moscow Patriarchate declare the EP in schism but remain in communion with everyone else, who are in their eyes "in communion with Schismatics"?

      How can Moscow declare one Monastery on the Holy Mountain OK for Holy Communion (because it is Russian), but declare the other traditionally Russian monasteries (as well as all other Monasteries on Mt. Athos) forbidden because they are "full of Greeks"?

      How can the MP condemn and break Communion with the EP over receiving defrocked and excommunicated clergy, when the MP has done the same (albeit on a much smaller scale)?

      My point, is that there are real issues that predate this crisis. The MP has long held the EP in disdain and contempt. They refuse to address the EP as the Ecumenical Patriarch, but rather call it "the Constantinople Patriarchate," Metropolitan Hilarion very quickly and openly declared HAH an "agent" of America, venting the widely held belief in Russian Orthodoxy that the EP is a CIA Asset (which has a corollary on the other side, with Patriarch Kyrill as an FSB asset. Both assertions are wrong).

      In addition, the contempt for the EP (and Greek Orthodoxy in general) as modernist, "liberal" and compromised has created an atmosphere of disdain, which to my knowledge is not reciprocated. How can dialogue and brotherly relations carry on in such circumstances?

      His All Holiness is not wrong when he speaks of the "disrespect" of the Ecumenical Patriarchate on the Slavic side. The articles I linked to sum it up very well. This current crisis is just an ugly manifestation of long simmering feelings.

      There is a widely held belief in the MP that the EP is a historical relic, propped up by America to serve it's geopolitical interests. They reason that there is no Empire anymore (therefore no Ecumene) and that Constantinople doesn't exist anymore, so why should we continue to pay lip service or otherwise to the EP? They can't argue against the EP on canonical grounds (because on paper, the EP is correct in his actions) so they go to that argument: "Yes, the EP may have had those privileges once, but the Byzantine Empire is gone, so their attempts to reassert those privileges is absurd and should be fought."

      This is another argument altogether. In the articles I linked, it is clear that the EP is the "Protos" and we are not a Protestant Confederation, nor are we a Papal Supremacist model (that is a bogeyman used to scare people against the EP).

      There is more here than meets the eye.

    4. David, I appreciate your thoughtful response.

      I've always been impressed with Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos & Agiou Vlasiou, and I'll read those 2 articles you linked as time permits in the next week or so.

      I've tried to see "the other side" that supports the EP in these matters, but I've had a very difficult time seeing how the EP's words & actions are justified despite the fact that I start by giving the EP the benefit of the doubt since it's my patriarchate. Maybe these articles will help?

    5. "They can't argue against the EP on canonical grounds (because on paper, the EP is correct in his actions)..."

      You're quite wrong there. First of all, the canons according the EP its much vaunted privileges, such as Chalcedon 28, explicitly base the EP's position on the political importance of Constantinople. So those who argue that these privileges are no longer relevant due to the vanishing of the empire are in fact adhering to the letter of the canons. Secondly, assuming we can continue to accord these privileges to the EP by force of custom and respect for that see's venerable history, the EP apologists interpret these canons in extremely fanciful ways which, as Patriarch Kirill points out above, contradict some of the EP's own canonists.

    6. David, your observations to the effect that those pesky Russians (why must they so truculently persist in BEING Russian when they should be Greek Orthodox already?) unilaterally disdain Greek church life while the innocent Greek churchmen have always been so condescending in their solicitude toward their country cousins, the Slavic brethren, itself exemplifies the superior attitude I’ve observed everywhere among Greek clergy. Maybe you live and worship in a place where the russkies are mean and the Greeks are sweet, but in these parts the ‘Russians’ (including all the non-Russians like the whole OCA) get on with church life without bothering about the Greeks.’ Whereas the Greeks use every lever of influence to vaunt their organization, with its head as the ‘spiritual leader of the world’s 300,000,000 Orthodox Christians’. Your note above is a paraphrase of the most recent letter of Patr. Bartholomew, overlooking the glaring hypocrisy of its author.

    7. To Timmy: Those articles will help a lot. Metropolitan Hierotheos doesn't agree with everything His All Holiness does (his positions during the Council of Crete and pointed but RESPECTFUL criticisms of the Council show that) but he doesn't call into question the Ecumenical Patriarchate itself. The same goes for Metropolitan Seraphim of Piraeus, who could never be accused of being a modernist. His Eminence criticizes His All Holiness for intervening in the Ukraine, with the key point being that he doesn't question the Ecumenical Patriarchate's authority on autocephaly, but that it is being misapplied (as only a canonical body can receive a Tomos, a valid criticism). I think you can look at the overall Greek position as this: The Ecumenical Patriarch has the authority to do certain things, but HOW he does them and WHEN is the question (where are the lines in the 21st Century). Whereas the Russian position denies this authority exists in the first place (made most apparent in their refusal to address HAH as the Ecumenical Patriarch, but rather as the "Patriarch of Constantinople.") This discussion has been on going, and will continue to be so. This is a disagreement between brothers.

      To Joseph Zheng: There is an ongoing discussion/disagreement. See the articles I linked to. Metropolitan Hierotheos summed it up very well. I think there is a big difference between debating the boundaries of the EP's authority, and denying it exists in the first place.

    8. To Lancelot Hogben: You addressed none of my points/questions.

      How can the MP break Communion with EVERYONE on down to the grandmas lighting candles, when they could have just as easily done what Antioch did, and NOT involve the laity?

      How can the MP condemn ethnophyletism and then declare one monastery on Mt. Athos ok because it's Russian? They are also under the EP>

      How can the MP condemn the EP for receiving defrocked and excommunicated clergy, when they did that very thing in Indonesia (and elsewhere)?

      The disdain I am referring to isn't some show of Greek Chauvinism or regurgitation of one of HAH Bartholomew's speeches. One only needs to pop over to orthochristian.com and put "Constantinople" or "Bartholomew" in the search box, then read what you find. It could be dismissed if it was just some crank on a blog, but this website is affiliated with Sretensky Monastery, which was/is connected with Metropolitan Tikhon of Pskov, one of the most prominent bishops in the Russian Church. That would be like popping over to pemptousia.com (The rough Greek equivalent) and seeing hit pieces on Patriarch Kyrill every week. One need not go far to see the disdain HAH is referring to. This has nothing to do with a feeling of "superiority" (although that unfortunately does take place, both ways).

      What lever of influence is more powerful than the Russian Embassy/Consulate? The MP uses it fairly regularly. I don't think the Greek embassy has nearly as much pull, and contrary to the conspiracy theorists, the CIA isn't all that interested in our ecclesiastical squabbles.

      I think you will find that most of us "Greeks" (I am not an ethnic Greek, by the way) also just live our lives, and give a thought/prayer to our brothers/sisters in the other Churches on the Sunday of Orthodoxy and a few other ways.

      There is nothing wrong with being "Russian." As I said, more here than meets the eye.

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  7. "No matter how much some wish to embellish the situation in Ukraine, history proves them wrong and presents indisputable arguments demonstrating that the origin of difficulties and reactions in Ukraine are neither a recent phenomenon nor something created by the Ecumenical Patriarchate. Already from the early 14th century, when the see of the Kievan Metropolis was moved without the canonical permission of the Mother Church to Moscow, there have been tireless efforts on the part of our Kievan brothers for independence from ecclesiastical control by the Moscow center. Indeed, the obstinacy of the Patriarchate of Moscow was instrumental in occasionally creating repeated mergers and restorations of ecclesiastical eparchies, uncanonical elections of Bishops as well as schisms, which still afflict the pious Ukrainian people.

    However, beyond all this, a study of the matter in the light of the sacred canons does not justify any intervention whatsoever by the Church of Russia. The Tome proclaiming Moscow as a Patriarchate does not include the region of today’s Metropolis of Kiev in the jurisdiction of Moscow. Moreover, after the well-known manner of proclamation of Moscow as a Patriarchate by Ecumenical Patriarch Jeremiah II (Tranos), the canonical dependence of Kiev to the Mother Church of Constantinople remained constant and uninterrupted. In the year 1686, our predecessor, the late Patriarch Dionysios IV, following great political pressure from the harrowing circumstances and for peace in the local Church, was obliged to issue a letter granting Moscow the license to ordain the Metropolitan of Kiev on the inviolable condition that every Metropolitan of Kiev would commemorate the name of the Ecumenical Patriarch as his ecclesiastical superior and authority, but also to demonstrate the canonical jurisdiction of Constantinople over this Metropolis.

    As far as we know, no other act changing the canonical state of Kiev or revision of the condition to commemorate Constantinople has ever occurred; nor of course has there been any such change on the part of the Mother Church ceding Kiev completely to Russia. The uncanonical interventions of Moscow from time to time in the affairs of Kiev and the toleration on the part of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in previous years do not validate any ecclesiastical violation... the Mother Church [i.e., the EP] did not concede its canonical rights over Ukraine, [and] incorporated a special reference in the Patriarchal and Synodal Tome “about the granting of the status of autocephaly to the Church of Poland” (1924), noting that “the original detachment from our Throne of the Metropolis of Kiev and its dependent Orthodox Churches of Lithuania and Poland, along with their attachment to the Holy Church of Moscow did not at all occur in accordance with the conventional canonical regulations; nor were the agreed statements about complete ecclesiastical self-sufficiency of the Metropolitan of Kiev, bearing the title of Exarch of the Ecumenical Throne, respected . . .”

    In any case, it is true that the occasional deliberate efforts of the Church of Russia to resolve this matter failed. Thus, since Russia, as the one responsible for the current painful situation in Ukraine, is unable to solve the problem, the Ecumenical Patriarchate assumed the initiative of resolving the problem in accordance with the authority afforded to it by the Sacred Canons and the jurisdictional responsibility over the eparchy of Kiev..."

  8. EP responds. Sounds like we have autocratic pope. Lord have mercy!

  9. Are you sure MP members may not commune in Holy Land?

    1. I think the reference was concerning the feud between Antioch and Jerusalem.

  10. https://orthodoxia.info/news/h-συνοδική-πράξη-του-οικουμενικού-πατρ/

  11. Before all this is over, I expect to see assassinations of the EP (depending on the state of Russo-Turkish relations) and/or his representatives in Ukraine. The situation may get solved militarily, as invading Russian troops shoot all the people on their list.

  12. The institution of autocephaly of a Local Church in the Unam Sanctam and its process is set forth in a correct way only in concert with the sacred Canons of the Church. I noticed this in the careful work of Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos. With his blessing, I translated two of his essays on this subject. I take this opportune moment to call them to your attention:
    I hasten to add that this whole episode is fraught with wild cross-currents which are NOT taken into view by His Eminence in these articles.
    That would be the subject of a critical valuation of the currents now in play. Should the whole Church convene a General Synod to deal with the matter, I suspect that canonical considerations would take precedence as they should.
    The big question: WHAT AGENT could summon such a General Synod???

    1. An important reply to Met Hierotheos:


    2. "...WHAT AGENT could summon such a General Synod..."

      This is the red herring of the day. The simple answer is the bishops can agree to meet and the remaining churches decide to attend. If this were an issue no council would have happened with the loss of Rome.

    3. Samn,

      The article you posted operates under the premise that the Ecumenical Patriarchate is obsolete (the MP position), and misses HE’s point that “What does Autocephaly even mean?” in terms of Church Ecclesiology is a huge question. We are not the Papal model (despite the anti EP rhetoric) and we are not a Confederation like the Anglicans (which is where the MP position would lead us).

      The Ukraine crisis is a symptom of these unaddressed questions and lack of concensus. Those of us who support the EP do not always agree with everything he does, but he is the Protos, a position the MP has undermined for YEARS. How can there be any dialogue when the MP viewed the EP as an obsolete relic propped up by America? (Tolerated as an act of “economy”) The EP probably has seen the garbage posted on orthochristian. How can any dialogue happen in that atmosphere?

    4. I can't conceive of any way in which the EP is not obsolete. The canonical ratio for it's existence hasn't been valid in a very long time.

    5. And it wasn't that long ago that the EP also saw Orthodoxy as a decentralized group of churches: https://orthodoxsynaxis.org/2018/11/26/patriarch-bartholomew-the-decentralization-of-orthodoxy-is-its-advantage/

    6. That doesn’t answer my question. How is dialogue supposed to take place in a spirit of brotherhood, when one brother believes the other to be dispensible and obsolete? The EP is well aware that this is the overall position of the MP, so their unease and distrust of the MP turn out to be totally justified.

      How can any healing be done? This doesn’t involve just the EP. The Church of Greece and Cyprus may not like everything the EP does, but it’s abolition is a step too far. For Greeks, Constantinople holds as much sacredness as “the Russky Mir” does.

      How can any reconciliation take place?

    7. Orthodoxy must get over Byzantium or die.

      Of course, the the other side of the equation is the task of making sure that Orthodoxy doesn't get defined by Russia either.

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    9. I think we'll have to see what happens in 2019.

      Merry Christmas for those on the old Calendar, and Blessed Theophany for those on the new.

      With that, I take my leave of these conversations. I would encourage others do the same. What positive fruit can come of this? Something I am beginning to ponder for 2019.

  13. Just read the vicious, hate filled invective in the letter from Patriarch Kirill to the Ecumenical Patriarch and ask yourself whether it is in the spirit of Christ and His love for us.