Saturday, November 28, 2020

Jad Ganem: Conciliarity or Ottomanism?

 Arabic original here.

Conciliarity or Ottomanism?

It is difficult for anyone who follows the news of the Orthodox Church to believe the depths to which conciliarity has fallen in this church in recent years. It is equally difficult to imagine the level that had reached this conciliarity because of the destructive politics pursued by a number of the church's primates who pathologically equate their own persons, their whims and the interests of the churches that they claim to serve.

After Patriarch Bartholomew decided in 2016 that the Great Orthodox Council, for which successive generations of pastors had been preparing in patience, wisdom and deliberation, had to be held with those who attended, contrary to all the ecclesiastical canons, customs and agreed-upon rules, proceeded with his plan and held the "Council of Crete" in the absence of four churches which constitute the majority of the world's Orthodox, just so it could be said that the council was held under him, after he started to claim that he is the head of the Orthodox Church, he proceeded to the second stage of marginalizing others and monopolizing authority along with his entourage when he abolished the role of the primates of the autocephalous churches in participating in crucial decisions relating to the universal Orthodox Church and decided to grant autocephaly to schismatics from the Church in Ukraine, contrary to all ecclesiastical canons and despite the rejection and fierce opposition to this from a majority of them.

After the "Council of Crete", where less than one quarter of the world's Orthodox bishops were invited to the proceedings, was turned into a "great Orthodox council", contrary to all ecclesiastical logic, Constantinople's court theologians began taking pride in justifying something that cannot be justified and started to distort the nature of conciliarity and to disavow their own earlier writings and positions about ecclesiology and councils. From there, the crisis of authoritarianism and the absence of the conciliarity in the Church moved to the local churches, especially the Greek ones, which do not dare to confront the Phanar. Thus the Patriarch of Alexandria, after renouncing his positions on the Ukrainian issue, recognized Epifany without a conciliar decision. He was followed by the Archbishop of Greece, who snuck in the same decision, contrary to his synod's Internal Statutes. Finally, the Archbishop of Cyrprus recently ignored the opinion of his Holy Synod and proceeded, against its recommendations, to commemorate Epifany.

On the basis of the above, it is possible to say that Greek-speaking Orthodoxy, apart from the voices of a small number of bishops, has come to practically disavow Orthodoxy conciliarity, which holds:

- that all the world's bishops are invited to an ecumenical council and make decisions on the basis of a majority of those present.

- that its presidency is not monopolized by a particular bishop, but rather the council chooses its president.

- that a patriarch or archbishop is not the ruler of his church and does not control its decision-making. He is the one who implements the decisions made by the council which meets with its president.

The Greek-speaking churches have made it clear that they all submit to the opinion of the Patriarch of Constantinople and support him even if he is wrong. No doubt, with the majority of bishops who are today defending the Phanar's behavior, they have departed from Orthodox conciliar thinking and have approached an Ottoman system that requires them to line up behind the opinion of the millet-başı.


bdchatfi said...

Probably one of the best summaries connecting all the dots of the Patriarch's behavior. There is a history of behavior from the Ottoman occupation that needs to be healed.

Theodoros said...

I agree with most of what has been written in this post. I disagree only with the statement that the Greek speaking Churches have "come to practically disavow Orthodox conciliarity." I certainly agree that the Greek bishops who have recognized the Ukrainian schismatics have disgraced themselves there are various contributing factors that have contributed to their errors. For example, political factors seem to be perhaps the most significant reason for the errors of the Greek Churches.
The US Government has a stranglehold on the formulation of Greek foreign policy and it seems the US has a very sinister influence over the Church of Greece. The Greek Church during the nineteenth century after the Greek War of Independence came under the influence of the British and the Germans. The present American influence over the Church of Greece has its precedents during that earlier era.
Furthermore, the Church of Constantinople has had a rather complex history and the Greek and non Greek views of the Patriarchate diverge.
I am of the opinion that many Greeks (clerics and laypeople alike) have blinded themselves to the destructive behavior of Patriarch Bartholomew because they see only a Patriarchate that has been badly persecuted by the Turks during the twentieth century. The Patriarchate's problems in Turkey are in no way shape or form an excuse for its deplorable and uncanonical actions in Ukraine but this history has blinded much of the Greek speaking world who refuse to see the damage that has been done to Orthodox unity as a result of the Patriarchate's aggression in Ukraine.
Getting back to the political factor. The Churches of Constantinople and Greece at present are not free. I would certainly agree that a Council needs to be held.
A council however cannot happen if two Churches (Constantinople. Greece) are not free to attend.
Constantinople's aspirations for power are a major factor here but those aspirations for universal authority have existed for some time and it should be remembered that Constantinople supported Moscow on the Ukrainian schism for twenty six years before reversing itself.
For the past two years, Patriarchs and primates of Churches, bishops and theologians, and others have analyzed and critiqued the errors of Constantinople and have called for the convocation of a synod.
It is time to address the American factor as the decisive cause of the crisis. The Patriarch of Constantinople is vulnerable to American pressure because it wants to survive in a hostile Turkish state. Without western political interests using a mixture of threats and diplomacy to pursue its anti Russian agenda, I am of the opinion that Constantinople would never have dared invade the canonical territory of the Russian Church in Ukraine.