Saturday, February 15, 2020

Jad Ganem: A Golden Opportunity

Arabic original here.

A Golden Opportunity

Meeting on February 12, 2020, the Holy Synod of the Romanian Orthodox Church took a decision regarding the crisis that the universal Orthodox Church is experiencing on account of Constantinople's decision to grant autocephaly to the schismatics in Ukraine.

In this regard, the Synod repeated its previous decision, which called for the necessity of "the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Patriarchate of Moscow resuming dialogue in order to arrive as soon as possible at a solution to the problem of the autocephaly of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, so as not to deepen the polarization between the two sides: one of pro-Constantinople Orthodox Churches and another of pro-Moscow Orthodox Churches."

Likewise the Synod decided to support "granting autocephaly to the entire Orthodox Church of Ukraine (not to only one part), however this can only be realized through agreement between Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Patriarchate of Moscow and Pan-Orthodox consensus."

The Synod also addressed the invivation by the Patriarch of Jerusalem to hold a fraternal meeting for consultations in Amman on February 25-27 in order to preserve Orthodox unity. Since it observed that this is not a synaxis of the primates of the Orthodox Churches, but rather merely a "fraternal meeting where ways of reconciling and reestablishing eucharistic communion between certain sister autocephalous Orthodox Churches will be discussed," it decided that the Church of Romania would not be represented at the meeting by the patriarch, but rather by a patriarchal delegation. It stated that, "This participation of the Romanian Orthodox Church in the fraternal meeting in Amman is motivated by the fact that all autocephalous Orthodox Churches have the responsibility to work together for maintaining, defending and promoting Orthodox dogmatic, canonical and eucharistic unity according to the Gospel and the holy Orthodox canons."

There is no doubt that this decision is extremely important for the Orthodox world today, since it:

-- recognizes the right of the faithful in Ukraine to obtain autocephaly.

-- stipulates that this autocephaly come as the result of consultations between the Churches of Moscow and Constantinople and that it be achieved with the agreement of the autocephalous Orthodox Churches.

-- avoids making the Romanian Church a party to the current conflict.

-- recognizes the role of the Orthodox Churches in taking initiatives to resolve conflicts and to preserve dogma and unity when they are endangered, even if the Patriarch of Constantinople refrains from calling such meetings.

-- preserves the prerogative of the Patriarch of Constantinople to call a synaxis of the primates of the Orthodox Churches, but it does not shut the door to meetings that aim to effect mediation when this patriarch is a party to the conflict.

The most important part of this decision is that in practice it does not recognize the tomos of autocephaly that Constantinople granted to the schismatics and it opens the way to a reexamination of the conditions for granting autocephaly to Ukraine in agreement with the Church's dogma and canons and which lead to real Orthodox unity in Ukraine and a recovery of the universal Orthodox Church's unity.

Is this decision a roadmap for the solution that will result from the meeting in Jordan? Will the Churches of Constantinople and Moscow accept this solution which makes Ukraine's autocephaly a reality and limits the role that Constantinople claims for itself in the Orthodox world? Or will this decision remain a voice crying out in the wilderness against the split that is liable to become a schism? Whatever it may be, the local Churches are called to work in this direction, especially when it comes to the details and the devils in them.

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