Monday, September 9, 2019

Jad Ganem: A Sacrificial Lamb?

A couple days late, but still important. Arabic original here.

A Sacrificial Lamb?

The Patriarchate of Constantinople and its Holy Synod-- a synod whose members are unilaterally appointed by the Patriarch without any fixed canonical order, but rather as he personally sees fit, continues to behave in an Ottoman manner in its treatment of the Russian Exarchate in Western Europe. This is damaging not only to the Phanar's image in Europe, but to the image of Orthodoxy as a whole, whose members wherever they are found are embarrassed by the situation their Church has come to be in.

Among the recent firmans issued from the Sublime Porte of Patriarch Bartholomew is a letter of release for Archbishop Jean, which states: "By this patriarchal letter, in recognition of your profound desire to place yourself under the omphorion of His Beatitude the Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia, as you have expressed multiple times in word and deed, we release you, solely on a personal level, from our very holy patriarchal and apostolic Ecumenical See, and we paternally wish you to be guided by the blessings and grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and that His infinite mercy always be with you.
This means that at the present, Your Eminence is are no longer in any way whatsoever responsible for the affairs of the parishes of Russian tradition in Western Europe."

Naturally, Metropolitan Emmanuel matched his teacher with another letter addressed to members of this Exarchate, in which he stated that "Archbishop Jean no longer possess any spiritual or administrative authority over the communities over which he previously had charge" and that the Patriarch had appointed him as locum tenens, asking all the parishes belonging to the Exarchate to commemorate him in the divine services. His Eminence likewise repeated his previous proposal to establish a vicarate for these parishes within the Greek Archdiocese in France, stating that he would invite the diocesan council to meet in the near future.

The Exarchate naturally responded to these decisions by confirming the meeting of the General Assembly on the agreed-upon date, September 7, and modified the agenda so that it included only one item, to accept the agreement that had been reached by the joint committee of the Exarchate and the Church of Russia.

Anyone who examines the letter of release, which Archbishop Jean did not request, cannot help but be surprised at its tone and content. In practice, this letter is to be regarded as expelling him this Patriarchate that believes that he wants to belong to the Church of Russia.

One can only marvel at the distortion of the facts that it contains, as it grants all responsibility to this bishop who has, since the moment Constantinople made its decision, attempted to dissolve the Exarchate whose General Assembly rejected him in favor of holding negotiations with it and with other churches in order to find a solution to this crisis caused by Constantinople with its sudden and hasty decision without any prior discussion with its pastors or flock.

Since his election as head of the Exarchate, Archbishop Jean has dealt with crises that have caused for it and its members by the sultanic decisions of the Phanar, ever since it removed the names of candidates that the Exarchate had nominated and imposed the election of a bishop who was not pleasing to its members. And he continues today, in a transparent manner, to deal with the crises and impediments that continue to be placed in its way. Perhaps he will be able, with his typical courage and devotion to Christ, to preserve this archdiocese that has been at the forefront of spreading Orthodoxy in Europe.

There remains hope that the upcoming General Assembly will transcend all historical political considerations and escape falling into the trap set by the Phanar and so make the appropriate decision and prevent the bishop who has preserved its unity from being turned into a sacrificial lamb on the altar of the dispute between Constantinople and Russia, which he has kept clear of throughout his long priestly service.

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