Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Patriarch Bartholomew's Letter to the Primates

The Patriarchate of Antioch has posted an Arabic translation of the letter that Patriarch Bartholomew sent to the primates of the local Orthodox churches, requesting that they accept the creation of a new, autocephalous church in Ukraine and commemorate its metropolitan in the diptychs. Since this letter hasn't been available publicly anywhere else in any other language, I thought it might be useful to translate it. Bear in mind, however, that this translation of the Arabic cannot capture the precise wording and technical language of the Greek, which I hope will surface at some point.

Letter from His Holiness the Patriarch of Constantinople
Protocol No. /1119/

Your Beatitude and Holiness Patriarch of the Great City of God Antioch and All the East, dear and very beloved brother in Christ God and concelebrant of Our Mediocrity, Kyr John, we address you with great joy, kissing your venerable beatitude fraternally in the Lord.

We communicate via this fraternal letter of ours with Your venerable and very beloved for us Beatitude and with the Church of Antioch and we endeavor, following our predecessors of perpetual memory and their honorable canonical works, to inform you that for a long time we have received repeated requests for recourse from Kyr Filaret (at the time, of Kiev) as well as Kyr Makarii (of the city of “Lviv” at that time), seeking sympathetic oversight of them by the Great Holy Mother Church of Christ, so that they may join in communion with her, because they bear the same Orthodox faith and faithfully keep the Orthodox terminology, dogmas and beliefs common to the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. We have likewise received for many years many requests, written and oral, in this regard from the honorable Ukrainian state pertaining to the granting the church of their country a system of internal administrative independence. That is, autocephaly.

We undertook together in our venerable Holy Synod to study all these situations, not only once or in a simple manner, but profoundly and extensively, and we came to the decision that we would move forward in the necessary steps to resolve this worsening situation, which for many years has occupied the body of the Eastern Orthodox Church, for an entire generation millions of Ukrainian brothers who participate with us in the same faith outside of canonicity and communion. Therefore we, by the mercy of God almighty, Archbishop of Constantinople New Rome and Ecumenical Patriarch, in accordance with the spiritual content of Canons 9 and 17 of the holy and God-bearing fathers who gathered in Chalcedon, have looked upon these the requests of recourse submitted by the persons mentioned above and those with them with a sympathetic eye and have returned them to the hierarchical and priestly ranks that they had previously and to ecclesiastical communion with all of us.

Therefore we cancelled the charter issued by our predecessor of perpetual memory, Dionysius IV, which he had issued under particular historical circumstances and in which the Patriarch of Moscow was given permission to ordain the Metropolitan of Kiev elected by the holy clergy-laity council, with a condition that could not be broken, which is the canonical commemoration of the name of each Ecumenical Patriarch. Because of the distortion of the contents of this charter, the description of the the conditions described therein were misinterpreted and the Mother Church endured this until that time, preserving ecclesiastical peace. But, with the changing of external circumstances and the absence of the reasons for this charter, we have returned matters pertaining to Kiev to their canonical starting-point. That is, we have brought these regions back under the omphorion belonging to us once more.

After this decision of ours, we received a request from these returning hierarchs as well as from the state to administratively let go of these regions dependent on us by establishing an autocephalous church. We have likewise received a request to enter under our canonical protection from our brothers Their Eminences Simeon and Alexander, who had previously considered the activities of the Church of Constantinople, the mother of the Russians and the Ukrainians, to be of vital importance, so we likewise entered them into the framework of our canonical authority. On this basis, we called an exceptional clergy-laity council in Kiev on Tuesday, December 15, under the presidency of the exarch designated by us, His Eminence the Metropolitan of France, Kyr Emmanuel, sending an invitation to all the hierarchs in Ukraine without exception. From this clergy-laity council, which explicitly reiterated the request for autocephaly, His Eminence Metropolitan Epiphanius was declared, by a canonical vote, to be the first head of the autocephalous Ukrainian church, and who has sent us his irenical letter.

We write this so that Your beloved Beatitude may be reliably and securely informed.
Therefore, Our Mediocrity and Their Eminences the bishops with us, metropolitan and first in honor,  our beloved brothers and fellow-servants in the Holy Spirit, who constitute the venerable Holy Synod of our Holy Apostolic Patriarchal and Ecumenical See, since we agree, as the order requires, on these matters in a spirit of profound desire to perfect the course of the Great and Holy Church of Christ which at all times in every place under heaven, with sacrifice and self-emptying, of urgent, intractable and difficult-to-solve ecclesiastical issues, and which enjoys exclusively the responsibility of granting autocephaly, something that is manifest in practice in the situations of all the new local sister churches, we recognize the holy Ukrainian Church as a church with autocephaly and self-administration, declaring and respecting the responsibilities and rights belonging to the other autocephalous churches, as a partner in the same uprightness of belief and the same faith in everything and on this basis, as we issue our venerable patriarchal and conciliar tomos, approving and declaring all this, we safeguard this ecclesiastical work, by which dogmatic unity is kept strong and unchanged as likewise the relationship and bond of the holy Ukrainian Church to the holy Great Church of Christ, to the ancient sees of the east, and to the other sister local autocephalous Orthodox churches. Her new head is known by the title “His Beatitude the Metropolitan of Kiev and All Ukraine.”

It is anticipated that all these matters will be completed on the sixth of this coming January on the Feast of Theophany, where we desire to give the previously-mentioned tomos of autocephaly and concelebrate with the head of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine. We Inform your beloved Beatitude of this along with your holy sister church and we express our fraternal trust that Your Beatitude, since you are abundantly aware of the desire that Ukraine has long expressed, as well as of the exclusivity of the responsibility and privilege belonging to the Church of Constantinople to treat all ecclesiastical issues  without limits, you will be in agreement with this things that are taking place and from now on you, along with your Orthodox flock, will recognize the Ukrainian Orthodox Church as an autocephalous church with internal self-administration, commemorating the name of each Metropolitan of Kiev and All Ukraine in the honorable diptychs directly after the name of His Beatitude the head of the Church of Czechia and Slovakia.

On this basis, we fraternally ask your love to pray to our Lord, the Founder of the Church, for the the new holy sister church, according to what has now been decided by you, so that she may remain in the ranks of patristic tradition forever, and so you may serve the unity of the fundamental body and eat mature spiritual fruit from her communion with all of us, who will have no excuse on the Day of Judgment if we want to ignore our brothers who find themselves in hardships in Ukraine before the terrible judgment-seat of the only Scrutinizer of  the hearts and souls of humankind and the Just Judge, our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ, to whom belongs glory, strength, honor and worship forever. Amen.

We embrace your venerable and beloved Beatitude with a holy kiss and we close with profound love in the Lord and all honor, praying for you that the twelve coming days will be blessed feasts.

December 24, 2018

The beloved brother in the Lord of your venerable Beatitude,

Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew


Anonymous said...

Are any churches outside the EP known to be recognizing this action as legitimate?

Samn! said...

As of this moment, no. So far, in addition to Antioch, Serbia, Poland and, apparently and somewhat to my surprise, Cyprus have all voiced their opposition.

Isa Almisry said...

At the "enthronement" it seems no one but the Phanar was represented. Not even Filaret showed up-I don't see any movement of his diaspora going under the local Greek.

No one, except the Phanar, is commemorating Epiphanios (who, if he was canonical, would come after the OCA Metropolitan. The statement on the order is not without its import beyond the immediate).