by Panayiotis Katramados
The broader public [in Greece—Trans.] has the wrong impression that the Ukrainian problem concerns someone else—Ukrainians, Russians, etc.—or that in general, we are talking about some vague societal geopolitical interests, in which it is better for Greece to not be involved. The responsibility for this lies with the many journalists who have no relation to Church service—and are therefore unable to understand the essence of this problem, which is directly affecting all of us—who are forming public opinion.
Unfortunately, this misconception is also helped by anti-ecumenist circles, which, despite their sincere and laudable efforts to demonstrate violations of the Holy Canons and focus on the actions of the Patriarch of Constantinople, present the whole entire question as theoretical, and concerning the theological battle with ecumenism, which is, understandably, never ending.
Perfectly correct, comprehensive historical evidence has been presented, which is undoubtedly a clear testimony to the truth of the matter, which does not protect, and does not justify Patriarch Bartholomew. Only the hierarchy of the Greek Orthodox Church has remained indifferent for reasons known to the Archbishop of Athens, and because of the theological ignorance of some bishops who sincerely believe that Orthodox ecclesiology provides for the existence of a pope in the person of the Patriarch of Constantinople. Nothing surprises us anymore, since the metropolitans themselves are deliberately throwing away the only right that they have in the conciliar system: that of voting on an equal level concerning each decision.
How and why does this concern us?
To answer this question, it is insufficient to simply determine the anti-canonical actions, but it is necessary to look to the future; that is, to look at the consequences of these actions.
The first consequence: From now on, the Patriarch repeals and countermands the resolutions of other Churches, even if he himself signed them!
The second consequence: In the case of the Ukrainians, Constantinople not only unilaterally annulled the agreement concluded with the Moscow Patriarchate, but also completely revoked the signature he put [in a letter recognizing the] conviction and anathematization of the schismatics.1 In this way, by recognizing these non-existent privileges of the Patriarch, the Greek hierarchy recognizes that at any time, it is possible to completely abolish the Greek Church and cancel any decision.2 Isn’t what’s happening now in the Cretan Church the start of this, where there is a clear overhaul of its charter? And in Kolymvari, the Patriarch already gave his word that he would not ask for new territories. If he withdraws his signature from [long-since signed] documents, would it be difficult for him to renounce his oral agreements?
The second consequence: From now on, the Patriarch can at any time intervene in the jurisdiction of any territory which he fancies as belonging to him! If after 300 years, he says that he will again take (by his own will) Ukraine under his jurisdiction, what would happen if he said that the whole Ecumene3 once belonged to the Phanar? Remember how he said that Qatar belongs to him? Must we now tell the entire history of the “concession” (!) of Africa to the Patriarchate of Alexandria?4
The third consequence: From now on, the Patriarch could justify or condemn anyone he wishes on charges of any canonical or moral misconduct with just one signature! If he restored the false patriarch of Kiev, Philaret, who was not only condemned both for schism and for moral crimes, but also—the most scandalous sins5—remains in the “episcopal dignity” even after his departure from the Ukrainian pseudo-church,6 then this means that there are no standards [within the church]: neither moral, canonical nor logical—and the only criterion is the degree to which Patriarch Bartholomew is pleased! By the way, he restored Makary Maletich, who never asked for his restoration!
Despite the evidence that both schismatic groups which make up the OCU—those led by Philaret Denisenko and Makary Maletich—are composed of bishops who were not simply deposed, but in general never ordained, the Patriarch considers them all to have the Holy Spirit! It would be possible to restore all the old calendarist Orthodox churches of Greece in one moment, if they, of course, declare their full obedience to the Patriarch!
The fifth consequence: The Patriarch will make decisions on behalf of the whole Church, without asking anyone! Since the Greek Church granted him the privilege to give and take away autocephaly, then he will decide which Church is worthy to exist, and which is not. The most tragic is that the Greek Church recognized this non-existent superiority, despite the fact that he disregarded the Greek Church even before the decision, and also after it, when he sent a delegation not to have a discussion, but simply to notify them. Such a self-destruction of the Church of Greece is occuring only under the current Archbishop and current Metropolitans. And in the next situation, in relation to the schismatics of Skopje,8 after the current adventure ends, he will make a decision without asking the Greek Church, or other Greek-speaking Churches, and even the nearby Metropolias, let alone the Serbian Patriarchate.
The sixth consequence: The Patriarch himself will decide whether to convene a Pan-Orthodox Council or not! From the very beginning, when the Ukrainian problem arose, all Churches came to the belief that a Pan-Orthodox Council was needed to prevent conflicts. Even such a promising meeting in Cyprus of the three Ancient Patriarchates was canceled, because, as the Cypriot Primate stated, “the Ecumenical Patriarch didn’t want”9 [a meeting].
He annuls the desires of the primates, annuls the will of Patriarchs, cancels the recent request of four metropolitans of the Church of Greece. He can annul anything!
In this way, Orthodoxy is bound by the will of one person only because our hierarchs do not have the common sense to look just a little further than their own personal interests. If suddenly another problem arises tomorrow, everyone will wait for the solution from Constantinople, even if this is a serious problem, like the Ukrainian Church Crisis is today.
Seventh consequence: All Churches must be coordinated with him on any decision! This was unthinkable until now, but it became a reality when, for example, the Patriarch of Alexandria, who repeatedly publicly spoke out in support of the canonical Metropolitan of Kiev Onuphry, made a 180 degree turn! If a person retreats, even as such personal costs—inasmuch as Alexandria has now lost its authority—this means that there are “resources” which can be used [by Constantinople and their supporters] in any situation. Did Patriarch Bartholomew make a prophetic statement a few months ago, when he said “first the Church of Greece will recognize [the OCU]”10 or was everything already squared out with the Archbishop of Athens, who leads the entire hierarchy?
Greece is the captive of the Eastern Pope
After everything is said and done, we see that Orthodoxy has come to an impasse: whosoever controls one person—the Patriarch of the Phanar—will be able to lead the entire Church through him.
A captive of the Turks and the United States will determine the course of the Church, since the Greek pastors themselves, without conditions and resistance (!) gave him the helm. The course towards a pseudo-union with the Papists is already a fact, since in Ukraine, the Kiev pseudo-metropolitan Epiphany served with the papist clergy on October 14, 2019.
We have replaced the Ecumenical Council with the Patriarch of Constantinople, and this has led to catastrophic consequences.
Therefore, the Ukrainian problem concerns everyone, because through it, and in the name of nationalism, “all power in heaven and on earth” was given to an enslaved Patriarch, who will make decisions for everyone, and on behalf of the Church, regarding apostolic succession, jurisdiction, application or non-application of the principle of conciliarity, justification of horrible lawlessness, etc. and even at any time, revise decisions that he has just recently made!
But our Lord Jesus Christ will fulfill His prophecy: Behold, your house is left unto you desolate (Luke 13:35).
1 Patriarch Bartholomew, until the start of this crisis, recognized from the beginning in 1992 the anathema against Philaret Denisenko and the full competence of the Russian Church to resolve this issue in their canonical territory of Ukraine. See here for more information: https://orthochristian.com/116803.html .
2 Here, it is worth noting there are several territories of the Greek Church, such as the New Lands and the Dodecanese islands, which Constantinople maintains control over by the reasoning that this land was historical part of the same state ruled from Constantinople. By this same logic, Ukraine and South-Western Rus’ was historically part of the same state as the rest of Russia, yet he does not recognize them as part of the Moscow Patriarchate. Therefore this example shows the willingness of Constantinople to completely break established understandings, and also his hypocrisy and double standards in doing so—Trans.
3 Ecumene or Oikumene from the Greek “οἰκουμένη” means the known Greco-Roman world, in this context, it refers to the Greek world of the Byzantine Empire, therefore the historical territories of the four ancient Patriarchates at their greatest extent. In the broadest context, this word means the Universe, and is the root of the word Ecumenical—Trans.
4 See above; if the Ecumenical Patriarchate were to lay claim to the entire Ecumene, which is the root of his title Ecumenical, then he would essentially be claiming all the territories of the ancient Patriarchates—Trans.
5 There has been evidence presented, as well as extremely suspicious situations which warranted police investigation, to suspect Philaret of having a secret family [and abusing his children and mother-in-law, according to his alleged daughter], and murder. Those who knew Philaret, and are familiar with the ecclesiastical life and history of Ukraine can attest to the fact that prior to his schism, he was hardly considered a Ukrainophilic individual. He was born in the most Russian-speaking region of Ukraine, on the Russian border, he spoke Russian throughout his episcopate, only switching to Ukrainian after his schism, and even mocked and banned Ukrainian folk customs in church life, such as priests wearing Vyshivanki (Ukrainian embroidered shirts.) In all, Philaret was a power-hungry and opportunistic man, and many Ukrainian clergy and excerpts believe that had he become Patriarch of Moscow, (as he was once one of the most popular candidates) the Ukrainian Church would have less freedoms than it did in the Soviet period, practically remaining his personal exarchate, and any idea of separation from his Patriarchate of Moscow would be met with the strongest resistance; for a man accused of murder, that resistance may be severe. See here: http://orthochristian.com/116749.html and here: https://orthochristian.com/116853.html
6 Due to a schism, Philaret the “perpetual schismatic” started within the schismatic OCU, because of a power struggle between Epiphany and himself, Philaret was forcibly retired by the OCU synod, but they made sure to claim he remains part of their “episcopate”, because excommunicating him would be ‘too similar to what Moscow does’. This forced retirement practically has no effect on Philaret, who has been and continues to lead his “restored Kievan Patriarchate” with no regard to Epiphany, while the OCU acts as if he was and remains one of their bishops, claiming he was retired due to his unjustified absence from Synod meetings. This demonstrates the irrationality of the schismatic structures, when one group is insisting the man who “ordained” their current “Primate” is still a member of their group, while he is clearly in open conflict within them—Trans.
7 There have been numerous studies by Ukrainian clergy and experts on the non-canonicity of Ukrainian schismatics. Bishop Job (Smakouz), from a respected Western Ukrainian family notes in this article that even Constantinople’s Ukrainian diaspora abroad has a highly questionable lineage: https://orthochristian.com/116116.html . Archpriest Rostislav Yarema wrote an entire article about the specific origin of each schismatic group, and their uncanonical ordinations: http://orthochristian.com/122215.html ; he also wrote specifically in reference to Makary Maletich, see here: http://orthochristian.com/122997.html
9 From the Greek original: «δὲν ἤθελε ὁ Οἰκουμενικός»
10 From the Greek original: «πρώτη ἡ Ἐκκλησία τῆς Ἑλλάδος θὰ ἀναγνωρίση»