Saturday, October 19, 2019

Jad Ganem: Before the Edifice Collapses

Arabic original here.

Before the Edifice Collapses

The prophetic cry of His Beatitude Archbishop Anastasios of Albania in the letter he sent to His Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew about the Ukrainian crisis, in which he said, "The expected peacemaking between Ukrainian Orthodox, who have in the past suffered various persecutions by atheistic regimes, has not yet been acheived," fell on deaf ears in the Patriarchate of Constantinople, whose champions have waged a vicisious campaign against him that has reached the point of accusing him of "slander and insolence."

But the development of events inside and outside Ukraine since that letter was written until today have proven the correctness of his position:

- Constantinople's decision has failed to realize the sought-after unity within Ukraine and indeed, it has deepened the wounds between members of the same people as a result of the campaigns of repression to which followers of the legitimate Church has been subjected and by provoking disagreement between followers of Epiphany and followers of Filaret.

- It has led to diferences between the local churches regarding the way in which to deal with Constantinople's decision, especially after the Church in Greece's recognition of autocephaly in Ukraine.

- It has inflamed disputes within the local churches themselves regarding the way in which to deal with this decision, even on Mount Athos itself.

But, even beyond this crisis situation, the universal Orthodox Church will find herself faced with:

- Either the choice of activating conciliarity to find a solution to this issue that is becoming more complicated as time passes, through a call to convene a general Orthodox council tasked with finding a solution that will make a judgment in the dispute after the Church of Moscow has tied the dogmatic struggle with the Church of Constantinople and the Church of Greece.

- Or the choice of consecrating the Orthodox schism and announcing a separation between of the Church of Constantinople and supporters of its decision and the Church of Moscow and supporters of its position regarding Constantinople's decision, especially given that its repercussions are changing the rules for dealing with matters on the level of the Orthodox world.

There is no down that the Church in Greece's recognition, which has provided cover for Constantinople's decision and its vision of its new role in the Orthodox world, has reduced the opportunities for finding a common Orthodox solution to the Ukrainian crisis, which has transformed into an Orthodox crisis opening the way to schism. Perhaps the decision which the fathers of the general Holy Synod of the Church in Greece made, to elevate Hellenic unity over Orthodox unity, will weaken Orthodox unity in the long term, something that will not end until everyone realizes that this dispute has caused Orthodoxy to lose much of its potential, that Greek and Russian Orthodoxy need their unity with each other, and that the split is a tragedy for them both.

Will the other local churches play the role of reminding them of this axiomatic truth or will they be dragged into deepening the split by supporting one side or the other?

Don't let this dispute grow until someone comes along in the future to write the history of this dark era of ours and say that the human errors of the leadership kept them from preventing the schism. By your Lord, don't fall into this trap that the leaders of this world have set for you. Be bigger than your own interests and bigger than your differences. Keep purity of faith and unity so that the whole edifice doesn't collapse on our heads.

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