The revolt of the faithful has caused Pat.Bartholomew to change course, retreating to the Orthodox tradition. The rebuke of GOA and the Patriarchate was so powerful that a petition on the issue of the Holy Communion (“Faith Over Fear – The Common Spoon”) is now circulating…. But why did we have to reach the point of no return? Maybe this is an opportunity for all sides to realize that there is ONE and ONLY ONE WAY for this Church to go forward – and this way is AUTONOMY for our Church!
By Nick Stamatakis
“Why are you wasting your time on Patriarch Bartholomew?” A good friend of mine chastised me recently… “He is not relevant”, he explained… Yet we are expected to glorify him as the leader of Orthodox Christianity (the “Ecumenical” sounds “inappropriate” after the “Schism”), be enlightened by his keeping of the Faith and follow his “ordinances”, big and small… Yes, we do, because, despite all the (later broken) promises, this Church is not autonomous… Archbishop Demetrios, are you listening?
But I digress… I was reading the most recent edict from the Phanar, where Pat. Bartholomew suddenly declared that “governments cannot impose rules on the celebration of the Eucharist” and I thought I was dreaming… A bit further down my dream turned into an ecstasy: Pat. Bartholomew had suddenly forgotten that he was “Primus Sine Paribus” and he was calling his “brothers”, the leaders of other Orthodox Churches, “to cooperate in order to find a uniform mode of delivering the Holy Communion”… (Here you can see the same text in the original Greek). What had caused such a transformation? What had happened in just about 10 weeks from his initial message on COVID-19, where he was blessing total obedience to the secular authorities?… Why such a radical change?
It is more than clear that Pat. Bartholomew had gotten the message, a message of rejection of his unreasonable decisions, a message that came from several churches, but most notably from the Church of America. The faithful had spoken and they showed their feelings both with their feet (before Covid-19) and with their pocketbooks (before and after)… The latter was very important, as the Phanar had “big money-collecting plans” for the Church of America; yet the total rejection of the “faithless leadership” forced a sharp change in tone and in substance. The faithful had shown in a very powerful way that the reduction of the Orthodox Faith to a “restaurant visit”, along with the megalomaniac plans and the geopolitical adventures, at the expense of the unity of Orthodoxy, have to come to an end… Above all, at a time when all Faiths had revolted against secular policies and “lockdowns”, which reduced religious services to a status lower than a liquor store, our leadership was secluded in 79th street or in the Phanar performing mostly bureaucratic duties… Not one petition to a mayor or a governor or, even more, to a Court, for a partial opening of the Churches… No, they had completely accepted that religious services are not “essential”… And now they are paying the price for this “unholy” mistake….
Why didn’t Bartholomew apply the same democratic, “synodical” principles (an integral part of the Orthodox tradition), he is now seeking for a uniform policy on the Holy Communion, why didn’t he apply them two years ago on the issue of Ukraine’s autocephaly? He cannot pick and choose to be “Primus Inter Paribus” (First Among Equals) on the one issue and “Primus Sine Paribus” (First Without Equals) on the other… As a matter of fact, on the issue of the Holy Communion he had every right to be the keeper of tradition and take the lead verifying for all the faithful a 2,000 year custom of the Church. He did not have to consult with anyone in order to confirm what all Orthodox leaders and faithful knew to be true all along…
Obviously he is now seeking an escape from the impasse he put himself and his leadership into. The big plans for “unity with the Catholics” will have to wait for a better occasion… But even in this radical retreat he stopped one step short from confirming the tradition of the Church: He talked of the common cup, a custom that goes back to the Last Supper, but he treated the spoon as somehow “negotiable”… Whatever the case, the retreat in his June 2 edict was total, it was complete and it leads back to the core of the Faith with no return to “novelties”…
We are not going to repeat here the rest of the accusations we have justifiably raised in the past against Pat.Bartholomew, many of which have to do with his contrarian personality… A personality prone to creating divisions and infighting from Greece to Ukraine to America and in the World Orthodoxy. And, please, let’s put aside the constant “excuse” of the “oppressive” Turks: Over six centuries the Phanariotes have co-existed with various – certainly oppressive – Turkish leaderships and have developed a symbiotic relationship with them. They know each other very well and they take advantage of each other. The same holds true for the Phanar and the US leadership in the last 75 years – during the last 50 of which the US “could not” force the re-opening of the Halki Seminary (!?)… Yet, despite the American “lack of results” on such a petty (by geopolitical measures) issue, we are supposed to believe that the Phanar was somehow “obligated” to play “Deep State’s” geopolitical games in the Ukraine…
It is truly ironic that the only major and symbolic advancement of the Phanar’s religious freedom in Turkey recently (namely the re-opening of the famous Panagia Soumela Monastery) came as a result of the intervention of President Putin and not the U.S. State Department… Are we maybe supposed to thank Karloutsos for his “ZERO” achievements – for which he was rewarded richly by his lobbyist friends?
I will stop here after calling one more time those willing to sign the petition on the issue of the Holy Communion (“Faith Over Fear – The Common Spoon”) and asking all the remaining faithful of the Church of America TO STAY FOCUSED ON THE GOAL OF AUTONOMY! THE TIME TO ACHIEVE THIS GOAL IS NOW!