Constantinople unyielding on new church in Ukraine


RISU, 5 January 2021


Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew thinks that there is no schism in Orthodoxy. At the same time, he does not intend to make "a single step back" with regard to the topic of Ukraine. Patriarch Bartholomew talked about this in a commentary for the newspaper To Bima, Channel 24 relates.


In addition, the first hierarch was asked how he assesses the course of the "new church" in Ukraine two years after the presentation to it of a tomos concerning autocephaly. And whether he is concerned about pan-Orthodox unity. Bartholomew answered this: "Everybody who doubts the right and responsibility of the Constantinople patriarchate, casts doubt on the very structure of Orthodoxy.


"The unity of Orthodoxy was not subjected to tests because of the responses of the ecumenical patriarchate to the request of the Orthodox of Ukraine. Ukrainian autocephaly was the action of the responsibility of the Mother Church with regard to millions of our Orthodox brethren, who are, through no fault of their own, outside the church," Bartholomew noted, adding that "this was not serving political goals or geopolitical interests."


He said that two years later, he sees how "the new church is developing," and Metropolitan of Kiev Epifany is making a contribution "by his fraternal initiatives to the normalization of church life." At the same time, he emphasized that "I read about the violence of radial groups against Orthodox believers," and "if that is true," then he condemns such actions.


With respect to the decision of the "fraternal" Russian Orthodox Church to break off communion with Constantinople and with local churches who have recognized the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, Bartholomew called it mistaken.


"Nevertheless, I repeat, there is no schism in Orthodoxy," he noted.


Bartholomew also declared again the right of the Phanar to resolve such problems.


"As to me as the ecumenical patriarch, I cannot sacrifice Orthodox ecclesiology on the altar of humiliating motives. I do not have the right to take a step backward," he declared.


At the same time, the ecumenical patriarch denied the accusation that he behaves like a pope of the East and of Orthodoxy.


"Those who advance this accusation want to create a false impression that the ecumenical patriarchate supposedly is violating the normal tradition of Orthodoxy, which of course they not only do not respect themselves and know it, but they violate it by making interpretations contrary to the sacred canons," Bartholomew emphasized.


He noted that actually the problem exists not in Ukrainian autocephaly, and not in alleged nonexistent or invalid ordinations in the Ukrainian hierarchy to which some consciously refer.


"The goal is to seize these unique obligations of the Constantinople see and transfer them to different hands," Bartholomew thinks, noting that he will not put up with that.


The Orthodox Church of Ukraine  (PTsU) was created on 15 December 2018 at a unification council in Kiev. Now the PTsU has been recognized by only four churches. The last one, after the ecumenical patriarchate, the Church of Greece, and the Alexandria patriarchate, was the Cypriot church. (tr. by PDS, posted 5 January 2021)

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