Diverse perceptions of Ukrainian question in world Orthodoxy


RISU, 4 February 2016


Archdeacon John Chryssavgis, theological advisor of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, published on 3 February in the magazine First Things an article "On the Great Council of the Orthodox Church" in which he denied the recent statement of Patriarch Kirill and his inner circle about the diplomatic triumph of the RPTs in the synaxis of heads of the Orthodox churches in Chambesy, Religiia v Ukraine reports.


Answering the question "Is Ukraine really a stumbling block?" at the synaxis, Archdeacon John Chryssavgis writes:


"Actually, for Moscow it was so, but not for many of the rest. At the opening of the synaxis, Patriarch Kirill in a deafening tirade raised the question of the disputed status of the Ukrainian church, to which Bartholomew answered calmly and without excuses. Accordingly, the question about Ukraine was not brought up in subsequent conversations or in official decisions, and it is not mentioned in the concluding communiqué.


"The truth is that as the result of the last synaxis, which occurred last week, Moscow can give out the primates' reaction it desires as the real one, suggesting its own ideas as if they were the decisions of the primates. For example, Moscow would like for us to believe that Constantinople caved under Russian pressure, admitting that the Moscow representative in Ukraine, whom Patriarch Kirill decided to include in his entourage of two members, heads the canonical church in that country.


"However Constantinople, for its part, did not voice any justifications in regard to its alleged activity in Ukraine, just as it did not compromise with respect to its worthy desire to put an end to church politics in Ukraine, and, again, it did not promise to weaken its relations with Orthodox believers in Ukraine. Actually Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew stressed his historical and canonical right to answer appeals or questions of Orthodox believers in Ukraine as a 'daughter church' of Constantinople."


Continuing to refute the interpretation of the Moscow patriarchate of the results of the synaxis, the theological advisor of the ecumenical patriarch also answered the question why the Pan-Orthodox Council will be held on Crete:


"Back before the synaxis of primates concluded, Moscow prided itself with its refusal of Constantinople's suggestion to conduct the Holy and Great Council in the church of St. Irene in Istanbul, the place where the Second Ecumenical Council was conducted, which since the fourth century has served as the imperial church and never was turned into a mosque.


"The only reason for changing the venue for conducting the Holy and Great Council was the desire to help Moscow participate because of on-going political tensions between Russia and Turkey and also for security considerations brought on by recent terrorist attacks in Istanbul. This change is an example of noble and generous responsibility of the ecumenical patriarch—strengthened by the Holy Spirit—that is necessary in order to ensure the convening of the council in June of this year."


We recall that previously the UPTs of the Kiev patriarchate accused the head of the RPTs of "public lying" at the synaxis. (tr. by PDS, posted 8 February 2016)

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