06 September 2018, 18:50
Constantinople Patriarchate has exclusive rights to resolve problems of Orthodox world - Patriarch Bartholomew (updated)
Istanbul, September 6, Interfax - The Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople has exclusive rights to resolve problems of the Orthodox world, Patriarch Bartholomew said.
"The Ecumenical Patriarchate bears the responsibility of setting matters in ecclesiastical and canonical order because it alone has the canonical privilege [...] to carry out this supreme and exceptional duty [...]. If the Ecumenical Patriarchate denies its responsibility and removes itself from the inter-Orthodox scene, then the local Churches will proceed 'as sheep without a shepherd'," Patriarch Bartholomew said at the Synaxis (council) of active Metropolitans and Archbishops of the Ecumenical Throne in Istanbul.
It was reported that the assembly addressed "matters concerning the Ecumenical Patriarchate and of inter-Orthodox interest," including the situation in Ukraine, whose authorities had asked the Ecumenical Patriarch back in April to grant a tomos on setting up a "unitied local church" in that country.
The Moscow Patriarchate categorically opposed this decision, arguing that Constantinople had no canonical reasons to intervene in ecclesiastical matters in Ukraine.
The Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate, the only canonical Orthodox Church in the country, did not ask for such a tomos, saying that the way toward the unity of Orthodoxy in Ukraine is inside the country rather than outside it.
Meanwhile, Patriarch Bartholomew said in his keynote address at the Synaxis that attempts to resolve inter-Orthodox problems without Constantinople are likely to fail. "At times, we confront trials and temptations precisely because some people falsely believe that they can love the Orthodox Church, but not the Ecumenical Patriarchate, forgetting that it incarnates the authentic ecclesiastical ethos of Orthodoxy," he said.
The Patriarchate of Constantinople strives "for the unity and stability of Orthodoxy as well as for a common ecclesial witness," he said.
"The Ecumenical Patriarchate - being responsible for the safeguarding of unity, but also the coordination of inter-Orthodox relations and pan-Orthodox initiatives - carries out this sacred ministry in the Orthodox world, faithfully adhering to the unshakable ecclesiological and canonical principles of the Tradition of our Fathers," he said.
Patriarch Bartholomew mentioned "the great challenges of our time" facing the Church, "including the domination of technological progress, secularization, globalization, ongoing decline and neglect of the social and societal dimension of freedom, social injustice, gratification and greed, destruction of the natural environment, but also ethnophyletism, religious fundamentalism, the clash of cultures and other threats to the sacredness of the human person, demand common answers."
In this context, he recalled words by Metropolitan John of Pergamon, one of the most influential Constantinople theologians, that, "in the world that we face, Orthodoxy cannot provide a witness divided in many parts, but rather a witness 'with one mouth and one heart'. The Ecumenical Patriarchate has the obligation of reminding everyone of the catholicity and ecumenicity of the Church, advocating a spirit of reconciliation that overcomes conflict and serves the unity of Orthodoxy."