Saturday, January 5, 2019

Jad Ganem: The Stubbornness that Destroys Unity

Arabic original here.

The Stubbornness that Destroys Unity

In a much-awaited and expected position, His Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew responded to His Beatitude Patriarch Kirill of Moscow during a New Year's Eve celebration at the Ecumenical Patriarchate. He confirmed that Constantinople will proceed with implementing what it has started, despite "fierce opposition" to its initiative from the sister churches. He emphasized that "Whatever the case may be, this opposition will not be an impediment to us because our decision is based on the holy canons, the privileges of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the order and tradition of the Orthodox Church." He ended by saying, "We pray that the sister churches that incorrectly oppose the decisions and initiatives of the Mother Church of Constantinople will finally start to think in a more logical and just manner and with great respect and gratitude to the Ecumenical Patriarchate."

One who looks closely at the words that he used will have to notice that they spring from a firm belief that the Ecumenical Patriarch and his Holy Synod constitute a church over the family of Orthodox churches gathered together and form a holy synod that governs all the other holy synods and that the one speaking these words considers himself and the synod around him to have a monopoly on the truth and to be infallible. Perhaps these words that cut off any path to dialogue and reject all the calls that have come from the heads of sister churches to deal with the Ukrainian issue in a conciliar manner not only constitute a rejection of the conciliar system, but also betray a pyramidal vision of the Church and presage the establishment of what could be termed "the infallibility of the Phanar" if it persists and is not stopped by the universal Church.

Who will remind His Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch of Orthodox theology, which holds that the word of the bishop, no matter what is rank, is neither sacrosanct in itself nor due to his position; that he is subject to error and misjudgment, just like every creature because passion can mix with godly purposes in man, who may regard himself as God's representative when he is in fact being led along by his own desires; that one who does not open his mind and his heart to the views of his brothers is satisfied with his own thoughts, which are filled as much with his ego, his whims and delusion as they are with inspiration or true insight.
Who will urge the Phanar to believe and accept that divine grace is not subject to the logic of ranks, hierarchy and sees, that it may come through the least in the Church and speak in them and through them, and if it did not it put itself in stubborn rebellion against the truth. Who will remind them that there is no witness more powerful than the witness of unity among the heads of the Church. Unity among them is for them to agree on what pleases God in the circumstances in which they are living. Has the time of talk ended and have we entered the time of stubbornness against the truth?

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