Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Jad Ganem: The Heartbreak of the Feast

Arabic original here.

The Heartbreak of the Feast

Anyone following news about celebrations of the Sunday of Orthodoxy, particularly in the diaspora, will notice the scale of the harm done by the Ecumenical Patriarchate's decision to unilaterally grant autocephaly to the church in Ukraine, its recognition of schismatics and entering into communion with them.

It is obvious to the public that the Orthodox Church has entered into a state of fragmentation that will be difficult to get past in the near future given the entrenchment in declared positions, the open refuse to resort to conciliarity to find a solution by which the Church might escape her crisis,  which may threaten unity and cement schism.

It is evident from the pictures of the celebrations that have been published that those who have been most harmed by what has happened are the faithful in the countries of the diaspora kept to the parishes of their respective patriarchates and no longer celebrate this feast together, as had been the custom for at least two decades.

Perhaps these images posted on church news websites also presage a disruption of the institution of the episcopal assemblies that were established in 2009 and which, until recently, succeeded in actualizing a unified Orthodox witness in the diaspora under the leadership of Constantinople's representatives, who preside over these assemblies on the basis of the primacy that their church enjoys within the family of Orthodox churches.

Perhaps the most telling image was from Paris, where every year the Greek cathedral witnessed a celebration including all the bishops of France belonging to the majority of local Orthodox churches. This year, Metropolitan Emmanuel celebrated the feast surrounded only by his own auxiliary bishops. He is the one who presided at the so-called "unifying council" and who participated in the enthronement of the head of the newly-established church, whose legitimacy and the legitimacy of whose leaders has until now not been recognized by anyone other than the Church of Constantinople.
In his homily, Metropolitan Emmanuel expressed his regret at the absence of his brothers, the Orthodox bishops of France. Naturally, he did not forget to criticize the Church of Moscow for what he considered to be the way in which it "responded to the granting of the Tomos of Autocephaly to the new church in Ukraine." He likewise aimed his criticisms at the local Orthodox churches which, according to what he said in his homily, "have forgotten the generosity of the Church of Constantinople toward them," after which he stressed the need to unify Orthodoxy in France for the sake of common witness.

The photos and statements eloquently express the profundity of the fragmentation that the Orthodox Church is experiencing in the absence of the conciliarity that had been the foundation of the Triumph of Orthodoxy over the iconoclasts. Constantinople appeared to be along on account of its acting individually. Therefore, confronted with this crises that is unprecedented in its profundity, the true faith requires both refraining from turning churches into pulpits for criticizing others and deepening wounds and taking the initiative to find solutions to dress wounds that have been open for years and which are deepening day after day, so that perhaps we might all triumph over division and next year celebrate the joy of the Triumph of Orthodoxy.

Who will raise us out of heartbreak? Who will bring us into joy?

1 comment:

VanOldenPhatt said...

Metr. Emmanuel’s petulance mirrors that of his Primate, and it is in turn parroted by Metropolitans like Gerasimos of San Francisco who convened his Metropolis’ recent Clergy-Laity Conference with a decrial of ‘those who use Sacraments as weapons against the Mother Church for exercising her pastoral care in resolving the schism in Ukraine’ and went on to enjoin the gathered clergy and laymen to carry the defense of the Mother Church and her prerogatives to their respective parishes. In some cases GOA clergy have actually convened parish colloquia in order to thoroughly propagate the Phanar line that Gerasimos enunciates.

As a simple pastor I fail to see how carrying water for the Phanar to my Parish accomplishes any Christian purpose. It’s painfully obvious to any undeluded observer that passionate defense of Phanar privilges accomplishes the exact opposite of working toward fulfilling the Great Commission (the reclaiming of which was the theme of the CLC). The worsening incoherence of the Phanar line from a merely Christian perspective points out to this undistinguished pastor that the burden of unconfessed sins upon ministry is deadly.