Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Jad Ganem: When the Truth Prevails

Arabic original here. The text of Patriarch Bartholomew's letter can be read here.

When the Truth Prevails

The Letter that His Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople sent to his fellow patriarch of Jerusalem, in which he asks him to abandon his initiative for calling a synaxis of primates of the Orthodox Churches in Jordan "in order to preserve Eucharistic unity", contains a noteworthy position, since His Holiness wonders, "What is the meaning of a synaxis of the primates of the churches, during which would not be possible a celebration of the Divine Sacrifice because one of them has broken Eucharistic communion with others?"

There is no doubt that this position of the Patriarch of Constantinople is worth examining for a number of reasons, including:

  -     The correctness of stressing that there is no meaning to any synaxis of the primates of the churches that does not culminate with the participation of all in the Divine Liturgy.

  -     The impermissibility of ending any synaxis of primates of the Orthodox Churches without the partaking of all together in the mystery of the Eucharist because that would constitute the consummation of division, fragmentation and schism.

  -     The importance of preventing ecclesiastical meetings from becoming meetings of a merely civil or deal-making character and of emphasizing the Eucharistic character of conciliarity in the Church.

Perhaps the importance of this position today lies in the fact that it affirms, albeit six years later, the Church of Antioch's devotion to Orthodox tradition and the correctness of the ecclesiological position that it took by not participating in the Council of Crete after the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Constantinople took the decision to postpone any search for a solution to the disagreement with the Patriarchate of Jerusalem until after the Great and Holy Orthodox Council.

At the time, the Holy Synod of Antioch stressed that "the Great and Holy Orthodox Council cannot be held while there is a break in communion between two apostolic churches given the Eucharistic nature of this council" because "this council, if were held during a break in communion between two apostolic churches, would give the impression that taking part in the conciliar discussions is possible without participation in the Holy Eucharist, which would cause the council to lose its Eucharistic character so that it could take on an administrative character contrary to established conciliar Orthodox tradition."

Perhaps the above will call upon the Patriarchate of Constantinople, its patriarch and those court theologians in their orbit, who promote one thing and then its opposite according to their narrow interests and accuse other churches sometimes of being bought off and sometimes of departing from the Orthodox mindset, to review their positions and refrain from relying on the politics of double standards. If Patriarch Bartholomew's current position is in accordance with tradition, this means that his going forward with holding the Council of Crete while communion was broken between two Apostolic Churches was contrary to tradition. That is, unless he believes that what applies to other churches does not apply to him and his church, whose canonical fumbling proves day after day that it is completely removed from the infallibility that it claims for its patriarch and synod, whose decision is incontrovertible and  continue to contradict the tradition of the universal Church and the teachings of the fathers who shone forth in Constantinople.

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