Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Jad Ganem: The Chosen Nation of Orthodoxy

Arabic original here.

The Chosen Nation of Orthodoxy

The reply letter that Patriarch Bartholomew sent to Patriarch Theophilos III of Jerusalem, in which he called on him not to persist in his invitation to hold a synaxis of the primates of the Orthodox Churches in Jordan, contained striking language about the Patriarchate of Jerusalem.

At the beginning of the letter, Patriarch Bartholomew harshly rebukes the Patriarch of Jerusalem for having used for the first time in history the English language and not Greek when addressing the Phanar. He implies that this is something like treason against the Greek nation when he wonders whether "he has suddenly stopped feeling of the same blood and sharing with us in the same historic and martyric Race, which of course Divine Providence from of ages entrusted with protecting the sacred Pilgrimage-Sites of the Holy Land through the Brotherhood of the Holy Sepulcher" and whether he has abandoned the policy of his predecessors who fought to prevent "attempts, well-known from History, at infiltration into the Holy Places by powers foreign to our Race."

Of course, no one in the Orthodox world is ignorant of the fact that the Greek world has long considered the patriarchates of the east to be an extension of itself and that it has long sought to dominate them through the imposition of Greek clergy on them and the prohibition of their people from managing the affairs of their churches. These words of Patriarch Bartholomew do not, however, merely confirm what is already known, but indeed constitute an insult to the native children of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem, who have long sought to be freed from this domination over the capabilities of their church and who have, over the centuries, been prevented from managing their own affairs themselves.

Moreover, this racist, chauvinist discourse is an insult to all Orthodox in the world whom the patriarch regards as "outside powers" to the Greek nation that must be combated directly to prevent them from having a presence in the Holy Land. He confers a divine character to the Greek domination of the Brotherhood of the Holy Sepulcher, whose membership is restricted to members of the Greek race that God has chosen and selected from among the Orthodox nations for guarding the holy places!

There is no doubt that the words of Patriarch Bartholomew, who of late has not hesitated to employ racist discourse and to divide the Orthodox world into Greek and foreign, aims to mobilize Greek public opinion against the Patriarch of Jerusalem and to portray him as a traitor to the Greek nation who is trying to weaken its leader, who resides in the Phanar, by daring to call for an Orthodox synaxis, but at the same time it shows that the Patriarch's words to not meet the measure of the teachings of the Gospel, "where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all" (Colossians 3:11) and which falls under the heresy of ethnophyletism that was condemned by the Council of Constantinople of 1872.

The strangest thing about this discourse might be that it comes from a patriarch who is fighting the Russian Church because he accuses it of expansionism and imperialism while he himself does not hesitate to do the exact same thing though his effort to consecrate the hegemony of the Greek race over patriarchates that have no members of this chosen race among their native inhabitants, merely on the basis of obsolete historical considerations. Is that which is permissible for the race and nation of the patriarch impermissible to others of different races and nations? Is it not permitted for Arabs, Russians, Serbs, Romanians, Georgians and others to be concerned about the issue of preserving the Orthodox holy places which are still being sold and squandered by their guardians, lest they be considered enemies of the chosen Orthodox nation?!

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