Thursday, September 12, 2019

Jad Ganem: Have We Committed a Crime?

Arabic original here. A complete English translation of Patriarch Bartholomew's letter can be found here.

Have We Committed a Crime?

Since the outset of the Ukrainian controversy, which has led to a break in communion between the Patriarchates of Moscow and Constantinople, Archbishop Chrysostomos of Cyprus has worked to find a solution that would keep the Orthodox Church from schism. He worked in cooperation with the Patriarchs of Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem to launch an initiative to preserve Orthodox unity and undertook to visit a number of primates of local churches in order to head off any unilateral decision that would deepen the schism.

But his initiative ran into fierce opposition from the Patriarchate of Constantinople, which expressed its  displeasure in a patriarchal letter delivered by Metropolitan Emmanuel of France, who read it during the festal liturgy celebrating the patronal feast of the Church of Cyprus last June.

The letter, which was sent in a rude manner, contains, in addition to the blame directed at the Archbishop of Cyprus for his initiative, a set of claims, among them that the Church of Constantinople believes:

- that it is the Church "who birthed all the newer [churches]" and that it has "the responsibility of caring for every other Church, both the ancient sisters and the newer daughters who were weaned from our Canonical body, in toil, deprivation and distress, but also with concern and care, so that they could have their own internal autocephaly. "

- that it is "common Mother and caretaker of all" and "mistress among the churches."

- that it is the church that preserves the autocephalous status of the Church of Cyprus, granted by the Third Ecumenical Council.

- that the Orthodox unity that was prevalent is "false".

The letter likewise reminds the Archbishop of Cyprus and "all those who hate us and love us" that "The Phanar lives because the Lord of Glory wills it...  it has the prayers of the God-bearing Fathers of the holy Councils, which granted it sacred, inviolable and non-negotiable privileges of service." and that it is "the loving heart and clever mind of the Orthodox Church."

This letter caused the Archbishop of Cyprus to refrain from going further in his initiative and he has recently stated that, "We took the first step and we tried to meet with the primates of the local churches, but we discovered the the Ecumenical Patriarch does not want anything like that. We then wondered: have we committed murder? And we stopped at that point."

The mediation undertaken by His Beatitude was a point of light and hope for many during this dark night of crisis in inter-Orthodox relations. But his giving up and submitting to the Phanar's pressure, its authoritarian pronouncements and the stubbornness of its patriarch and ceasing his effort to avoid schism is itself a crime of murder against Orthodox unity, which seems no longer to be a priority for the "Primus sine Paribus" in the race toward schism.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

God help me for saying this, but it might be better overall for the Church if the Turks were simply to shut down the EP once and for all.