Saturday, February 22, 2020

Jad Ganem: The Press Release from Jerusalem

Arabic original here.

The Press Release from Jerusalem

The Holy Synod of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem has issued a press release following its latest meeting, presided by His Beatitude Patriarch Theophilos III, which treats what it calls "the pending matter with the Patriarchate of Antioch relating to Qatar" on account of Jerusalem's violation of the territory of the Patriarchate of Antioch and ordination of a bishop bearing the title "of Qatar" which is within the territory of the Archdiocese of Iraq, Kuwait and the Gulf of the Patriarchate of Antioch.

According to the press release, during this meeting Patriarch Theophilos asserted that " that since the two Primates met together mid last year in Cyprus dialogue has been taking place between the two Patriarchates on the matter" and clearly stated that "a resolution between both Patriarchates, regarding Qatar, had not yet been concluded." The press release also expresses the Patriarchate of Jerusalem's hope that "a final agreement on the matter of Qatar" will be reached with the Patriarch of Antioch during the fraternal gathering of primates of the local Orthodox Churches that will be held in Amman on the 26th of this month.

If one reads this press release closely and examines its content and purpose, it becomes clear that:

-- The Patriarchates of Antioch and Jerusalem have entered into bilateral negotiations regarding the issue of Qatar after the meeting between the Patriarchs of Antioch and Jerusalem on Cyprus.

-- These negotiations have made some progress on certain aspects of the crisis but they have not yet reached a final solution to it.

-- The Patriarch of Jerusalem does not wish to find a solution to this crisis before the meeting of the "familial gathering" which he has called in Amman.

-- The press release used ambiguous language with the purpose of distracting from the points above and implying that a solution to the crisis over Qatar has been reached.

A close reading of the press release leads one to conclude that:

-- It was issued in violation of the most basic principles of responsible and transparent interaction between local churches.

-- It constitutes a covert attempt to exert moral pressure on the Church of Antioch to force it to take part in the Amman meeting.

-- It aims to lay upon the Church of Antioch responsibility for not reaching an agreement on the Qatar issue in the event that it chooses not to participate in the Amman meeting for reasons of principle.

Therefore, by attempting to delay resolution of the Qatar issue, trying to pressure Antioch by holding it publicly responsible for refusing to find a solution to this issue and insisting on using this issue for leverage to get Antioch to take part in this meeting, the Patriarch of Jerusalem deprives himself of the role he desires of fostering "dialogue, reconciliation and the preservation of Orthodox unity." Perhaps this is what has led a number of local churches to decline his invitation. It may also indicate the eventual fate that awaits the meeting in Amman, which will not succeed in achieving its purpose if it is approached in the same way that the Patriarchate has approached the Qatar issue.

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