Friday, March 29, 2013

Fr Georges Massouh on the Patriarchate of Jerusalem's Behavior

Arabic original here.

Corrupt Ecclesial Agression

The unity of the Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, according to the Orthodox understanding, is based on the unity that exists between independent local churches with recognized geographic boundaries. The diocese, which has at its head a bishop who pastors, directs, and manages it, is an independent church and no other bishop or other diocese has the right to intervene in its internal affairs.

From the first centuries of Christianity, the Orthodox Church knew the system of five patriarchates: Rome, Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem. Each patriarchate has a holy synod made up of diocesan bishops and presided over by the patriarch who is the bishop of the main city, without him having canonical authority over any of the bishops who belong to the synod.

The Orthodox Church has preserved this independence after the rise of new patriarchates and independent churches: Moscow, Bulgaria, Serbia, Romania, Greece, Albania... But with the spread of Orthodox outside their mother countries and outside the historical geographic framework of the Orthodox churches, there arose the problem of Orthodox parishes in countries of the diaspora. In this way there came to be more than one bishop in a single city and this is an explicit violation of Orthodox tradition, which says that it is not permitted for there to be more than one bishop in a single city.

If the presence of more than one bishop in a single city that is not under the authority of any of the independent Orthodox churches is considered to be an unambiguous theological violation, how much more so is it when one of the churches infringes upon a sister church? This is what happened when the Patriarchate of Jerusalem appointed a bishop as "Archbishop of Qatar", which falls within the historical and canonical boundaries of the Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East and is dependent on the Antiochian bishop, the Metropolitan of Baghdad, Kuwait, and the Arabian Gulf Constantine Papastephanou. The metropolitans of the See of Antioch met under the presidency of Patriarch John X and decided that this appointment "violates the canons of the Orthodox Catholic Church because each patriarchate is independent and it is not permissible for one patriarchate to interfere and elect a bishop for the territory of another patriarchate." Patriarch John sent a letter to the Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos XIII in which he expressed his shock at the decision and asked for it to be reconsidered. The letter was then sent to the heads of all the independent Orthodox churches.

Jerusalem's infringement upon the Patriarchate of Antioch is added to the black record of the leaders of the Church of Jerusalem. They-- Greeks and not Palestinians-- undertook to make long-term leases of thousands of acres of Palestinian land from its endowment to Jewish colonists  at symbolic prices in exchange for the Israeli authorities' condoning their domination over the Church of Jerusalem and preventing anything that might return to Christian Arabs their right to manage their local church. They forge an alliance with the Israeli state that oppresses their Arab Orthodox children and pay no attention to the Christian presence in Palestine, content with the religious tourism that brings in wealth for them and for the occupying state.

This "Greek colonialism" of the Church of Jerusalem now has a boundless appetite. Thus this colonialism has appropriated territories of the Antiochian Church. The question is: would the Church of Jerusalem be concerned with the church in Qatar were it not for lust for money? Why did the Church of Jerusalem not think of the poor Palestinian Christians in camps and in Arab slums as they are only interested in Qatar? Will the Holy Light come down, as some Orthodox believe, this year to light the candle of the offending patriarch, knowing that God neither loves aggressors nor their candles?


Isa Almisry said...

What is particularly egregious is that the Patriarchate of Jerusalem made such a fuss over the Romanian hostel in Jericho over just this issue.

What I never understand is why the Palestinians outside of Palestine put up with it.

pjl_u2 said...

This shall need be settled after WW3.