How Constantinople ‘Changed’ the Orthodox Christian World

Miodrag Lazarevic – OpEd – 31/10/18

It is going to be a month since the Ecumenical Patriarchate reinstated the primates of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church – Kyivan Patriarchate (UOC KP) and Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church (UAOC), thereby heading towards ‘the granting’ of the Tomos of Autocephaly of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

This decision has already resulted in large-scale changes in Ukraine and the rest of the Orthodox world. So, what’s happening?

Ukraine: Property Redistribution: Clashes for New Church’s Primate Chair and Uncertainties

The Ecumenical Patriarchate ‘Satisfied’ with the St. Andrew’s Church in Kiev?

The first thing that the Ukrainians did was redistributing property. A part of the deal between the Ecumenical Patriarchate and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko on Autocephaly was on a number of real estate properties (in the center of Kyiv). According to several rumors, Metropolitan Emmanuel of France (EP) visited the country to review the properties (their size and value impressed him).

On October 18, Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada passed the President’s bill to hand over the St. Andrew’s Church in Kyiv to the Ecumenical Patriarchate. Until that moment this Church served as the UAOC’s Cathedral. However, its primate Metropolitan Makarios supported the presidential decision, since his Church will be part of the new united Ukrainian Church and he is ready to sacrifice for unity.

Meanwhile, the UOC-KP is preparing themselves to obtain new real estate properties. On October 20, UOC-KP the Synod changed the title of its head. As per the new decision, he will also be addressed as the “Holy Archimandrite of the Kyiv-Pechersk and Pochaiv Lavras”, (this property actually belongs to the UOC- MP). On the eve of elections, Filaret seems to demonstrate his supremacy before Makarios and the UOC-MP.

UOC KP and UAOC are in conflict, which escalated with recent developments (since the Tomos will be granted shortly).

UOC-MP certainly is in no haste to recognize Constantinople’s decision. The clergy of few large eparchies of the Moscow Patriarchate voted for Metropolitan Onufriy and against the Tomos. Met Onufriy openly claimed that the Phanar’s actions are uncanonical and called for defending the faith.

Bishops won’t join the new Church without their clergy and dioceses. For instance, in the predominantly anti-Russian Rivne Oblast in western Ukraine, all the clergy and monks unilaterally supported Met. Onufriy.

At a voting by secret ballot in Odessa Diocese, only 3 (!) priests of 406 were against Met Onufriy.

Metropolitan Sofronios of Cherkasy was the only bishop of UOC-MP dioceses who openly supported Autocephaly. Cherkasy Diocese’s voted by secret ballot which showed that nearly all of the local clergy denounced the Autocephaly movement. Facing criticism, Met Sofronios had to publically state that he “won’t join the same Church with Filaret.”

In case Filaret and Makarios don’t reconcile and UOC MP bishops stand aside, the ‘Unification Council’ will fail. The only result yielded by the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s strategy would be an exarchate and acquiring of the valuable property in the center of Kyiv. But where is the promised unity of the Ukrainian Church?

The world: A schism, the Declining Authority of the Greek Orthodoxy and the Ecumenical Patriarch

The Ecumenical Patriarchate has failed to reach Concord within the world Orthodoxy. It is starting to divide into two camps. Despite the cut ties, Moscow couldn’t be isolated: the Patriarchates of Alexandria, Antioch, and Slavic Churches are against Constantinople’s hasty actions on the Ukrainian question and the conflict is expected to be universal.

Such stand-offs cannot foster the position of the Greek Orthodoxy. Constant quarrels between the Local Churches undermines the authority of the Orthodox Church in the eyes of Roman Catholics and Protestants.

The ambiguous events influencing the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s reputation also added oil to the fire. First, the contents of the confidential talks on August 31 with Patriarch Kirill were leaked. The negotiations were recorded only by Constantinople’s representative, so it could not have been published without prior consent of Patriarch Bartholomew.

Second, according to many sources, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko allegedly donated 25 million dollars to Phanar (which was collected from Ukrainian oligarchs). In the official photos of the meeting between Rostislav Pavlenko (the former Deputy Head of the Presidential Administration), a big case could be seen near His All-Holiness. In Ukraine, this caused a furious reaction, and there were attempts to initiate a corruption probe against Patriarch Bartholomew and President Poroshenko.

Recently, a scandal related to the possible Autocephaly to the Macedonian Orthodox Church were discussed within Orthodox circles. As one of the Greek newspaper claimed, the delegation of the Serbian Orthodox Church (Macedonia doesn’t want to stay under its jurisdiction) came to Istanbul and ‘negotiated’ with the Ecumenical Patriarch, after which Constantinople allegedly refused to bestow the Tomos to Macedonia and Phanar immediately published a refutation.

Above all, the Ecumenical Patriarch is quite aggressive toward the Russian Orthodox Church without presenting grounds for his accusations. Thus, he has recently blamed Moscow for the dissemination of “well-paid articles” and “black propaganda” without clarifying what he meant.

Obviously, a series of scandals and aggression toward other Churches negatively affected Patriarch Bartholomew’s reputation. Moreover, it looks like that the Ecumenical Patriarchate strives ‘not for the Unity’ of the world Orthodoxy, but for its own supremacy over other Churches.

A situation with the “pearl in Constantinople’s crown” – the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America (GOA) is worth discussing. Last summer, some of its influential supporters spoke about independence following the example of Ukraine, but these talks were diluted. Meanwhile, for several months the Phanar has been trying to replace Archbishop Dimitrios. Against the background of the Ukrainian Autocephaly and open war with Moscow, the attempts to restrict the GOA’s independence and to remove its primate looked cynical. Otherwise, it can urge the Archdiocese’s clergy and laity to unite for independence.

Relations with the ROC: The future of the Ecumenical Dialogue in Question

The rupture between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Ecumenical Patriarchate has negatively affected a lot of aspects. In cooperation with the ROC, Constantinople organized a number of active inter-confessional negotiations, but since Moscow refused to take part in them, the future of such relations, first of all with Roman Catholics, are not that promising. Moreover,  the talks led by Constantinople won’t be ‘all-Orthodox’, and this can be a pretext for predominantly anti-Ecumenical Churches to abandon such inter-confessional dialogue.

Besides, the Phanar’s actions will affect the Orthodox Diaspora: without the ROC, the Assemblies of Bishops won’t be that effective.

At this moment, it’s unclear what awaits us in the future but one thing is obvious: the Orthodox world has changed and it will never be the same. Yes, Constantinople has won in the battle for supremacy becoming “the first without equals.” But the price is too high.

Disclaimer: Please note that the opinions expressed in the above article are solely the author’s and it does not represent those of Orthodoxy Cognate PAGE or OCP New Service.

Miodrag Lazarevic

1 thought on “How Constantinople ‘Changed’ the Orthodox Christian World

  1. Chers amis. Aloho m’barekh

    Ce que nous voyons se dérouler sous nos yeux est profondément triste, scandaleux et nous donne la nausée.

    Face aux ennemis du Christianisme, à un moment de l’histoire humaine ou, plus que jamais nous devrions manifester sinon l’unité administrative de l’Eglise du Christ (Car il faut toujours se garder de confondre unité et uniformité), du moins son unanimité dans le Témoignage Chrétien, nous voyons les disciples du Christ, ou les soit disant disciples du Christ se déchirer.

    D’aucun se font la guerre pour des possessions temporelles, d’autres pour défendre des influences territoriales afin d’asseoir leurs Autorités, leurs Juridictions…Quelle misère !
    L’Autorité dans l’Eglise n’est-elle plus un service, dans la lumière et la force du Saint Esprit, pour l’édification des fidèles dans le Christ qui nous conduit au Père?
    Les Juridictions ne sont-elles plus là pour réunir les croyants en familles spirituelles et rituelles pour n’être, avec les autres Chrétiens qu’un seul cœur, une seule âme tendus vers Dieu ?

    Encore une fois :
    -Les âmes de nos frères et sœurs en Christ nous appartiennent-elles ou sommes-nous les serviteurs de leur édification dans le Christ Tête de l’Eglise?

    D’où viennent tous ces désordres qui nuisent à l’élan missionnaire de l’unique Eglise du Christ fondée sur les Apôtres, laquelle se trouve ainsi lamentablement divisée par les orgueils personnels et communautaires de ses hiérarques?

    -Précisément -L’histoire en témoigne !- de ces insatiables appétits mondains qui caractérisent malheureusement les deux grandes Eglises “impériales” héritières de la Rome Antique d’Orient et d’Occident (Rome et Constantinople) et, malheureusement, la faiblesse humaine aidant, s’emparent trop souvent des Eglises locales dès qu’elles grossissent au point d’étendre une influence qui, pour rester dans la rectitude évangélique, devrait demeurer uniquement évangélisatrice et missionnaire.

    Non seulement ces Eglises se laissant pénétrer par “l’esprit du monde”, s’éloignent elles-mêmes des Canons Apostoliques et des Règles qui régissent encore en principe nos Eglises Orthodoxes Orientales et, de ce fait, dispersent leur troupeau, mais, par l’influence qu’elles acquièrent à travers un certain “Mouvement œcuménique” sur ces mêmes Eglises de la famille Orthodoxe-Orientale, y introduisent des désordres lorsqu’elles entendent y peser, de l’extérieur, pour décider, par exemple, de la canonicité de telle ou telle de nos Eglise locale…

    Pourquoi ces réflexions?
    -Pour lancer, bien humblement, un appel au retour à la plus authentique Tradition Apostolique et aux Lois Canoniques qui règlent l’unité Catholique de l’Eglise du Christ par et dans l’Orthodoxie de la Foi et de de la Grâce Salvifique principalement véhiculée à travers des Rites Sacramentels eux aussi Orthodoxes.

    Qu’au moins nos Eglises Orthodoxes-Orientales, restées fidèles à cette Tradition Apostolique qui unifiait “L’Eglise indivise” des premiers siècles avant que n’interviennent ces contagions mondaines, ne se laissent pas influencer par tel ou tel groupe peut-être plus important en nombre ou en éclat, mais demeurent elles-mêmes en favorisant, sur les critères apostoliques, la communion…

    Dans l’amour du Christ et de ceux de Ses frères et sœurs qui nous honorent de leur confiance et que nous décevons lorsque nous nous laissons diviser par l’Adversaire, de ceux de Ses frères et sœurs en humanité qui cherchent Sa Vérité mais ne peuvent l’embrasser lorsque nous-mêmes sommes si peu Chrétiens; votre respectueusement et fraternellement.

    +Mor Philipose
    Dear friends. Aloho m’barekh

    What we see unfolding before our eyes is deeply sad, scandalous and makes us nauseated.

    Faced with the enemies of Christianity, at a time in human history or, more than ever, we should manifest if not the administrative unity of the Church of Christ (Because we must always be careful not to confuse unity and uniformity), at least its unanimously in the Christian Testimony, we see the disciples of Christ, or the so-called disciples of Christ, being torn apart.

    Some are waging war for temporal possessions, others to defend territorial influences to establish their Authorities, their Jurisdictions … What misery!
    Is authority in the Church no longer a service, in the light and strength of the Holy Spirit, for the edification of the faithful in Christ who leads us to the Father?
    Are the courts no longer there to reunite believers in spiritual and ritual families to be with the other Christians only one heart, one soul strained towards God?

    Once again :
    -Do the souls of our brothers and sisters in Christ belong to us or are we the servants of their edification in Christ Head of the Church?

    Where do all these disorders come from which impede the missionary impetus of the unique Church of Christ founded on the Apostles, which is thus miserably divided by the personal and communal pride of its hierarchs?

    Precisely, history testifies to this insatiable worldly appetites which unfortunately characterize the two great “imperial” churches inherited from the ancient Rome of East and West (Rome and Constantinople) and, unfortunately, human weakness helping too often seize local Churches as soon as they grow to the point of extending an influence which, to remain in evangelical correctness, should remain solely evangelizing and missionary.

    Not only do these churches allow themselves to be penetrated by the “spirit of the world”, they themselves depart from the Apostolic Canons and Rules which in principle still govern our Eastern Orthodox Churches and, as a result, disperse their flock, but the influence they acquire through a certain “ecumenical movement” on these same churches of the Eastern Orthodox family, introduce disorders there when they intend to weigh, from the outside, to decide, for example, the canonicity of this or that of our local Church …

    Why these reflections?
    -To send, humbly, a call to return to the most authentic Apostolic Tradition and to the Canon Laws that regulate the Catholic unity of the Church of Christ by and in the Orthodoxy of the Faith and of the Salvific Grace mainly conveyed through Sacramental Rites, also Orthodox.

    That at least our Eastern Orthodox Churches, which have remained faithful to this Apostolic Tradition unifying the “undivided Church” of the first centuries before these social contagions intervene, can not be influenced by this or that group, perhaps more important in number or brilliance, but remain themselves by promoting, on the apostolic criteria, communion …

    In the love of Christ and those of His brothers and sisters who honor us with their trust and which we disappoint when we allow ourselves to be divided by the Adversary, of those of His brothers and sisters in humanity who seek His Truth but can not to embrace it when we ourselves are so few Christians; your respectfully and fraternally.

    + Mor Philipose
    Queridos amigos. Aloho m’barekh

    O que vemos desdobrando diante de nossos olhos é profundamente triste, escandaloso e nos deixa nauseados.

    Confrontados com os inimigos do cristianismo, numa época da história humana ou, mais do que nunca, devemos manifestar, se não a unidade administrativa da Igreja de Cristo (porque devemos sempre ter cuidado para não confundir unidade e uniformidade), pelo menos unanimemente no Testemunho Cristão, vemos os discípulos de Cristo, ou os chamados discípulos de Cristo, sendo dilacerados.

    Alguns estão em guerra por posses temporais, outros defendem influências territoriais para estabelecer suas Autoridades, suas Jurisdições … Que miséria!
    A autoridade na Igreja não é mais um serviço, na luz e na força do Espírito Santo, para a edificação dos fiéis em Cristo que nos conduz ao Pai?
    Os tribunais não estão mais lá para reunir crentes em famílias espirituais e rituais para estar com os outros cristãos apenas um coração, uma alma forçada para Deus?

    Mais uma vez:
    As almas de nossos irmãos e irmãs em Cristo pertencem a nós ou somos os servos de sua edificação em Cristo Cabeça da Igreja?

    De onde vêm todas essas desordens que impedem o ímpeto missionário da única Igreja de Cristo fundada sobre os Apóstolos, que é assim miseravelmente dividida pelo orgulho pessoal e comunal de seus hierarcas?

    Precisamente, a história testemunha este insaciável apetite mundano que infelizmente caracteriza as duas grandes igrejas “imperiais” herdadas da antiga Roma do Oriente e do Ocidente (Roma e Constantinopla) e, infelizmente, a fraqueza humana ajudando muitas vezes apoderam-se das Igrejas locais assim que crescem a ponto de estender uma influência que, para permanecer na retidão evangélica, deve permanecer unicamente evangelizadora e missionária.

    Estas igrejas não apenas se deixam penetrar pelo “espírito do mundo”, como também se afastam dos Cânones Apostólicos e das Regras que, em princípio, ainda governam nossas Igrejas Ortodoxas Orientais e, como resultado, dispersam seu rebanho, mas a influência que eles adquirem através de um certo “movimento ecumênico” nessas mesmas igrejas da família Ortodoxa Oriental, introduzem desordens lá quando pretendem pesar, do lado de fora, para decidir, por exemplo, o canonicity disto ou aquilo da nossa igreja local …

    Por que essas reflexões?
    – Enviar, com humildade, um apelo ao retorno à mais autêntica Tradição Apostólica e às Leis canônicas que regulam a unidade católica da Igreja de Cristo por e na Ortodoxia da Fé e da Graça Salvífica transmitida principalmente através dos ritos sacramentais, também ortodoxos.

    Que pelo menos as nossas Igrejas Ortodoxas Orientais, que permaneceram fiéis a esta Tradição Apostólica unificando a “Igreja indivisa” dos primeiros séculos antes destes contágios sociais, não podem ser influenciadas por este ou aquele grupo, talvez mais importante em número ou brilhantismo, mas se mantêm promovendo, nos critérios apostólicos, a comunhão …

    No amor de Cristo e de seus irmãos e irmãs que nos honram com sua confiança e que decepcionamos quando nos deixamos dividir pelo Adversário, daqueles de seus irmãos e irmãs na humanidade que buscam a sua verdade, mas não podem abraçá-lo quando nós mesmos somos tão poucos cristãos; seu respeitosamente e fraternalmente.

    + Mor Philipose
    أصدقائي الأعزاء. الوه مبارخ

    ما نراه يتكشف أمام أعيننا هو حزين للغاية ، ومخزي ، ويجعلنا بالغثيان.

    في مواجهة أعداء المسيحية ، في وقت في تاريخ البشرية ، أو أكثر من أي وقت مضى ، يجب أن نظهر إن لم تكن الوحدة الإدارية لكنيسة المسيح (لأننا يجب أن نكون حريصين على عدم الخلط بين الوحدة والتوحيد) ، على الأقل بالإجماع في الشهادة المسيحية ، نرى تلاميذ المسيح ، أو ما يسمى بتلاميذ المسيح ، يتمزقون.

    البعض يشن حرباً من أجل الممتلكات المؤقتة ، والبعض الآخر يدافع عن التأثيرات الإقليمية لتأسيس سلطاتهم ، وسلطاتهم القضائية … ما هو البؤس!
    هل السلطة في الكنيسة لم تعد خدمة ، في ضوء وقوة الروح القدس ، من أجل ترسيخ المؤمنين في المسيح الذي يقودنا إلى الآب؟
    هل لم تعد المحاكم موجودة لمّ شمل المؤمنين في العائلات الروحية والطقوس ليكونوا مع المسيحيين الآخرين قلبًا واحدًا فقط ، روح متوترة تجاه الله؟

    مرة أخرى :
    – هل أرواح إخواننا وأخواتنا في المسيح تنتمي إلينا أم نحن خدام إنشادهم في المسيح رئيس الكنيسة؟

    من أين تأتي كل هذه الاضطرابات التي تعوق الزخم الرسولي لكنيسة المسيح الفريدة من نوعها التي تأسست على الرسل ، والتي هي بالتالي منقسمة بشكل مريع بالفخر الشخصي والمجتمعي لهرمائها؟

    تاريخ -The -Précisément يشهد – هذه شهية لا تشبع الدنيوية والتي للأسف تميز اثنين من الكنائس الكبيرة ورثة “الامبراطورية” من روما القديمة من الشرق والغرب (روما والقسطنطينية)، وللأسف، والضعف البشري تساعد في كثير من الأحيان الاستيلاء على الكنائس المحلية في أقرب وقت لأنها تنمو إلى حد توسيع نفوذ ، إلى أن تبقى في صدق الإنجيلي ، يجب أن تظل التبشير والتبشير فقط.

    ليس فقط هي هذه الكنائس السماح اختراق مع “روح العالم” الابتعاد أنفسهم الرسولي شرائع والقواعد التي لا تزال تحكم من حيث المبدأ لدينا الكنائس الشرقية الأرثوذكسية، وبالتالي تفريق رعاياهم، ولكن، التأثير الذي يحصلون عليه من خلال “حركة مسكونية” معينة على هذه الكنائس نفسها من عائلة الأرثوذكس الشرقية ، يقدم الاضطرابات هناك عندما ينوون أن يزنوا ، من الخارج ، أن يقرروا ، على سبيل المثال ، canonicity من هذا أو ذاك من كنيستنا المحلية …

    لماذا هذه الانعكاسات؟
    -أن تبدأ، بكل تواضع، ودعوة للعودة إلى التقليد الرسولي الأكثر أصالة والقوانين التي تحكم وحدة الكنسي الكاثوليكية في كنيسة المسيح والكنيسة الأرثوذكسية الإيمان وتشفع اكثره من خلال الشعائر المقدسة ، الأرثوذكسية أيضا.

    على الأقل لدينا الأرثوذكس الكنائس الشرقية، ظلت وفية إلى التقليد الرسولي الذي موحدة “الكنيسة غير مقسمة” من القرون الأولى قبل تدخل هذه العدوى الدنيا، لن تتأثر أي مجموعة قد تكون أكثر المهم في العدد أو التألق ، ولكن تظل نفسها من خلال تعزيز ، على المعايير الرسولية ، بالتواصل …

    في محبة المسيح وتلك من إخوته وأخواته الذين تشريفنا ثقتهم ونحن يخيب عندما تركنا أنفسنا تقسيمها من قبل عدو، وتلك من إخوته وأخواته في الإنسانية الذين يسعون حقيقته ولكن لا يمكن لنعانقها عندما نكون أنفسنا قلة من المسيحيين ؛ بكل احترام وبأخوة.

    + مور فيليبوس

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *