The resurrection of Jairus’s daughter. Illustration: pravoslavie.ru Week 24 after Pentecost
The head of the Albanian Orthodox Church Archbishop Anastasios of Tirana and Albanian on 25 November called for the early convening of the pan-Orthodox Council on the issue connected with the schismatic Orthodox Church of Ukraine (PCU).
“The ecclesial events of the past year has created a new reality with the apparent involvement of geopolitical interests and benefits. This new situation cannot be ignored either directly or indirectly. The granting of autocephaly to the Orthodox Church of Ukraine has not brought the desired Orthodox unity and peace, as it was with all previous cases of the granting of autocephaly”, — stated in the message.This message was sent on 20 November all the Autocephalous churches, and on 24 November he published the Albanian Church on its official website.
The next day, knowing the contents of the message, the Primate of the Orthodox Church, the Patriarch of Jerusalem and all Palestine, Syria and Arabia, etc. Theophilos III called for a Cathedral in Jordan.
“In the spirit of peace, brotherly love and care we treat with the following sentence: in our home, the Jerusalem Patriarchate, we want to take our brothers, the primates of the Orthodox churches, and in the spirit of the canons of the Cathedral to discuss the issue of preserving our unity in communion” — he said at the ceremony of awarding the international prize in Moscow.
It is worth noting that the whole week was marked by activity in the “Orthodox” events. Aside from the statements of the heads of the Orthodox churches, this meeting of representatives of the U.S. state Department with heads of the Bulgarian and Greek Orthodox churches, as well as developments in Georgia, directly and indirectly associated with the Orthodox schism.
Running a little over a month with the rank of U.S. Ambassador to Bulgaria E. Hero Mustafa was found on 19 November in Sofia with the Bulgarian Patriarch Neophyte. This is the official website of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church. This is the second meeting of the leadership of the American Embassy in Bulgaria in less than two months. In early October issues of “free religion” with the Primate of the Bulgarian Church were discussing the former head of the U.S. Embassy Justin Friedman.
Similar rhetoric came from the lips of the Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew after a meeting with U.S. Ambassador to Greece Geoffrey R. Pyatt at the end of may 2019 in Athens.
“I Express my strong support for the United States in efforts to ensure freedom of religion, the Ukrainian autocephaly…”.November 22, Geoffrey Pyatt arrived in Athens the residence of the head of the Greek Orthodox Church Archbishop of Athens and all Greece to Jeroenimo with words of gratitude for the recognition of the ptsu. Responding to journalists questions about the initiative of the Patriarch of Jerusalem to convoke the Council, Jerome, in particular, said:
“Not everyone can convene the pan-Orthodox meeting. It is the prerogative of the Ecumenical Patriarch… the Ecumenical Patriarch If we called, we do not say “no“if any other Church leader to call us, I say, “no““.
The situation of the local Orthodox churches
The Ukrainian agenda is a priority for the Church of Constantinople. November 24 in Istanbul, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew held a memorial service for the victims of the so-called Holodomor.
“Today we honor the 86-th anniversary gof Holodomor and the memory of the victims of this genocide by the Stalinist regime against the Ukrainian people”, — said Bartholomew.According to him, a countless number of innocent Ukrainians “suffered from famine and fought for their national identity, language and culture“.
After the unexpected recognition of the Alexandria Patriarchate of the PCU and subsequent visit to Cyprus where the act of the Patriarch of Alexandria and all Africa Theodore II of Cyprus clergy likened to a “kiss of Judas”, the Church of Alexandria remained silent. An open letter of 19 November to the head of the Church appealed to the Metropolitan of Odessa and Izmail Agafangel, which, in particular, said:
“With deep sorrow and great concern that we received the news that You, Your Beatitude, on 8 November this year at the divine Liturgy in the Church of Archangel Michael in Cairo mentioned a “Metropolitan Epiphanios” as a “Primate” Ukrainian Church and announced the recognition of this pseudostructure. And this, despite the fact that in the days of his stay in Odessa in September 2018 You, as before, recognized only one canonical Orthodox Church headed by his Beatitude Metropolitan Onoufry“.Metropolitan Agafangel, who personally knows of the Patriarch Theodore, since when he’s in for 5 years was a representative of the Alexandrian monastery in Odessa, assured that familiar with the situation:
“You know perfectly well that this Scam with artificial Ukrainian “autocephaly” aimed at the destruction of Orthodoxy in the destabilization of inter-Orthodox relations. You said that you made this decision after much thought. But this is not true! It is well understood that this decision was hasty, under the influence of and pressure from the outside. Hope You come to their senses and reconsider their decision”.
The latter, according to observers, is extremely unlikely.
Some analysts put the Church on a par with the Greek churches, that is not entirely true. The leadership of the Church and its episcopate composed primarily of ethnic Arabs. The Patriarchal chair is in Syria. And the main part of the Church’s administrative units, the dioceses in the Arab countries of the Middle East and Arabia. Last week representatives of the Patriarchate of Antioch was present at the celebrations in honor of the 73-th anniversary of the Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia Kirill.
The parishioners of this Church are mostly Arabs, and the episcopate is entirely composed of Greeks, who have seized power in this Church since the sixteenth century. The initiative of the Cathedral in Jordan is not accidental, because the Archbishop Jordanian Theophylact has lived long time in Russia, has friends here and is a supporter of unity with the Russian Orthodox Church. By the way, the first Church Council took place in 49 or 51 year, and presided over it the first Primate of the Church of Jerusalem — the Apostle James, brother of Jesus.
The initiative of the Patriarch of Jerusalem to convoke the Council, most likely will not find support among the Greek bishops of the other churches, as already stated by the Primate of the Greek Church.Theophilus himself has repeatedly spoken negatively about the Russian presence in the Holy land, and it is impossible to assert that he is sympathetic to the Russians. Apparently, in the near future it will “work”, as it was to the Alexandrian Patriarch. The influence of the Greek authorities is rather large in this Church. It was on their initiative in 2005, the Synod of Jerusalem the Church removed the previous Patriarch Irenaeus, depriving him of his dignity, after which it for 11 years under house arrest. Shortly before the Ukrainian “Autocephalous” events, Irenaeus was rehabilitated and restored into a living Sanaa at the initiative of the heads of Constantinople and the Greek churches. And this is no accident. The Greeks will be useful for “combat unit” with a very large number of supporters.
Around one of the most conservative Orthodox churches — the Georgian — unfolding chain of interrelated events. At the end of October it became public knowledge the attempt to assassinate 86-year-old Catholicos-Patriarch of all Georgia Elijah II. Born and lived in Russia, a graduate of the HMM, it is good to our country. Its credibility rests largely in the world of the Georgian Church. Georgians have a special relationship to the Patriarch. Every Sunday crowds gather for Liturgy at the Holy Trinity Cathedral Sameba Cathedral to hear him preach. The Patriarch also baptized on holidays every third child in the family. Almost all of the large pairs in Georgia strive to Elijah became the godfather of their child.
Further, the light appears on the enclosed circular letter of Chairman of Educational Committee of Russian Orthodox Church Archpriest Maxim Kozlov dated November 11, to rectors of higher educational institutions of the Russian Orthodox Church about the trip to the state of graduates of the theological educational institutions of Russian military bases, including in Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
This has caused street demonstrations in Georgia. Renewed confrontation between the authorities and opposition associated with the electoral process. Recall that these events are a series of the June confrontation, when the reason for the unrest was the presence of the Russian parliamentary delegation to the Interparliamentary Assembly of Orthodoxy in the Georgian Parliament. The political result is the blockage of the Georgian Parliament. If events unfold according to the worst scenario, the vector of the Georgian Church can change to the anti-Russian — as once the state policy of Saakashvili.
The signals are already there. On 20 November in Brussels in the European Parliament, representatives of the Georgian Orthodox Church took part in the seminar “the Role of churches and religious communities in peace-building and conflict resolution”, organized by the anti-Russian Fund “the Fund roundels”. The head of the delegation of the Georgian Church, the Archbishop of Bodbe Jacob Iakobishvili said:
“We will not accept occupation. Form of our struggle will be peaceful and civilized. We hope that the European and American strategic partners will help us. Know that it is a long process. I was a participant in the war in Abkhazia. Lost a lot of friends. Always sympathized with the Abkhaz people, as this was not a war between us and Abkhazians, it was the Russian-Georgian war followed by the occupation of a large part of Georgian territory. I want to let you know that a huge part of the Georgian population considers themselves to be Europeans and we are committed to Europe and not to the conquerors. This will never happen. They destroyed our graves in Abkhazia and we have no way to go. We are not allowed to pray in our churches. We all would be grateful if you would help us. We demand the restoration of historical justice”.Bishop Jacob (former Patriarchal Secretary), highly influential in the Georgian political elite and considered as a possible successor of Elijah II.
Serbian, Bulgarian, Czech lands and Slovakia
Inside these churches, events can develop in a similar way by an external conflict with the use of splits within these churches.
Almost simultaneously in Serbia, Bulgaria and the Czech Republic broke out spy scandal, which was blamed Russia. Bulgaria still spins the conflict with the accusation of the representatives of the Russian special services in the case of poisoning of a Bulgarian citizen.
The influence of the Serbian Church applies to three Orthodox countries — Serbia, Montenegro and Macedonia. The Exarch of the Ecumenical Patriarch in Ukraine Archbishop Pamphylian Daniel Zelinsky in an interview for the BBC, published on 11 January 2019, said:
“I support the idea that each nation wants to have its own Orthodox Church, should have the right to establish and to seek recognition by other Orthodox churches. In particular, if we are talking about Macedonia and Montenegro”.
If the positions of the Serbian Church in Montenegro is durable and until confirmed by the government of Montenegro, by the schismatic churches of Macedonia, not recognized by any Orthodox Church, is two-thirds of believers. About how fast the Constantinople claims the split was illustrated by the example of Ukraine. Most likely, in that scenario the Greeks would act against the recalcitrant Serbian Church.
The Bulgarian Church in the 1990’s experienced a serious split, which was finally discontinued in 2012. The official Church actively supported the Russian Orthodox Church. In the case of pressure, in addition to political leverage, the state Department will resort to the activation of the dissenters.
The Church of the Czech lands and Slovakia 20 years ago was recognized as Autocephalous by the Patriarchate of Constantinople, while the Orthodox Church has recognized it as such in 1951. Five years ago, the Church survived the crisis caused by the interference of Constantinople. The former Primate of the pressure was forced to resign. In its place was put a Pro-Russian Metropolitan Rostislav (Shingles). Meanwhile, Constantinople in the event of a split keeps the elderly Archbishop of Olomouc and Brno Simeon (Yakovlevich), who was long considered the head of the Church, and his vicar, Bishop young Shumerskogo Isaiah, an ethnic Slovak.
The Romanians difficult relations with the ROC. As you know Romania claims to be the Church’s expansion in Moldova, in which it has its smallest diocese. In the direction of Constantinople to find a compromise with Bucharest in relation to the recognition of ptsu.
Belonged to the Greek churches the Church of Cyprus is a supporter of the canonical Orthodoxy. On 13 November in Cyprus celebrated the name day of the Archbishop of the Orthodox Church of Cyprus Chrysostom. On this day, he receives congratulations from his flock, many of whom are Russian. This year near his residence, a rally was held against the Church’s involvement in the Affairs of the state associated with the issuance of the “Golden passports” to foreigners who have bought citizenship of the European Union for investment on the island of 2 million euros. As the claims were selected Malaysian Joe Lowe, from which the Church of Cyprus received donations in the amount of 310 thousand euros. The Russians, unlike the Malaysian, Cyprus thousands. After this it was decided to retroactively revoke the citizenship of 26 foreigners who received it for a lot of investment in the economy of the country. About the decision announced by the interior Minister of Cyprus Constantinos Petrides. Among the first of the “disenfranchised” — the inhabitants of the six countries, nine of them — the Russians. Public discontent against the rich Russians and especially to the clergy of the Church of Cyprus can become the trump card of the state Department.
Acting in the spirit of Constantinople, but the bishops and clergy does not recognize the DNC. The clergy of the Church receive a salary from the budget of Greece, and in fact are civil servants. It will be the main argument against the recalcitrant priests.
Recently, the screens of Russian TV released a documentary film about the Primate of this Church, where he is shown as a great friend of Russia. His initiative to convoke the Council on the issue of ptsu and overcoming the schism, most likely initiated by the Greeks. In the case of the convening of the Council initiative will be on the Greek side, since the agenda was written on their script.
The mother of this Church, which owns the 600 thousand poles, is the ROC. Given the level of Russophobia in Poland, expect that the episcopate will be the strongest pressure on government channels, and that from the public. However, most likely the Polish Church will remain faithful to Orthodoxy and did not recognize Raskolnikov ptsu.
The American Church is not recognized by the Ecumenical Patriarchate and other Greek churches as an Autocephalous Church and therefore is not considered by them seriously.
The initiative of Jerusalem and the Albanian primates of the churches on holding a pan-Orthodox Council can be supported by the heads of the other churches. Another question. In what scenario will develop its agenda, and who will head the initiative? If it’s the Greeks, then, most likely, they determine its content, and it will be implemented according to their plan. First of all, it will be a link on the archaic canons of 1600 years ago on the advantage of the Patriarch of Constantinople and his right to lead the Church in the post-Soviet space. Constantinople has long had its diocese in Estonia, and recently stated their rights and to Latvia. There is no doubt that after Ukraine, Latvia and Estonia in the Cathedral will put the question of “canonical” claim Bartholomew on Belarus, Lithuania, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and other Central Asian republics
The Russian agenda at this Council can be expressed in the revision of the canons of the rule of Constantinople and to return to the ancient conciliar administration of the Church and engagement in the orbit of Orthodoxy and overcoming dogmatic differences, especially on the question of Christology (doctrine of Christ) of ancient Eastern churches, the original Coptic, Armenian, Ethiopian and Eritrean.
The ancestors of these Christians have faced the “Greek pride” when those churches have become purely national, the breakaway Melkites (as in the ancient Church were called the supporters of the Imperial Byzantine rite, loyal to the Emperor and the entire Greek).