Patriarch Bartholomew affirms Mother Church’s right to resolve Ukrainian issue

Patriarch Bartholomew has delivered a speech at the Synaxis taking place from September 1-4 at the Patriarchal Cathedral of St. George in Constantinople (Istanbul), Turkey.

In his speech, while greeting the hierarchs of the Church, the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew gave an overview of the difficulties faced by the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, claiming these difficulties were not created recently and not by the Ecumenical Patriarchate, although the latter is obliged and has a legitimate right to resolve them.

Patriarch Bartholomew took a look back in history, at the time when the Orthodox Kyiv Metropolis of the Constantinople Patriarchate was annexed by the Moscow. It was about 1686, when the Ecumenical Patriarch Dionysius IV and the Holy Synod of the Church of Constantinople, under the pressure of difficult historical circumstances, issued a controversial Tomos on the transfer of the Kyiv Metropolis to the canonical jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate.

“Already from the early 14th century, when the See of the Kyivan Metropolis was moved without the canonical permission of the Mother Church to Moscow, there have been tireless efforts on the part of our Kyivan brothers for independence from ecclesiastical control by the Moscow center. Indeed, the obstinacy of the Patriarchate of Moscow was instrumental in occasionally creating repeated mergers and restorations of ecclesiastical eparchies, uncanonical elections of Bishops as well as schisms, which still afflict the pious Ukrainian people,” said Bartholomew I in his speech.

According to the Ecumenical Patriarch, consideration of this issue in the light of the holy canons does not justify any interference from the Church of Russia, since this is not the jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate. As Patriarch Bartholomew once again emphasized, “the canonical dependence of Kyiv to the Mother Church of Constantinople remained constant and uninterrupted”.

The Patriarch emphasized that the Mother Church (Constantinople Patriarchate) had never yielded to its canonical rights over Ukraine, and current situation in the Ukrainian Orthodoxy was also created by Russia, which proved to be incapable to resolve the problem, therefore the Ecumenical Patriarchate took on the initiative to solve the Ukrainian issue. The Mother Church has such a responsibility, in accordance with the authority vested on it by the Holy Canons, and in view of the jurisdictional responsibility of Constantinople over the Kyiv Metropolis.

Patriarch Bartholomew reported to the hierarchs of the Ecumenical Patriarchate on the request to grant the Tomos with autocephaly from the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and the Ukrainian Parliament, as well as on the periodic appeals from Patriarch Filaret of Kyiv to challenge his case (that is, to withdraw anathema imposed by the Moscow Patriarchate).

Patriarch Bartholomew mentioned in his speech the bishop and professor Macarius Christopolis, who for a long time studied the Ukrainian question and submitted a 90-page report to the hierarchs of Constantinople in this respect.

After studying all the relevant church canons, the canon lawyers of the Ecumenical Patriarchate concluded that “the Archbishop of Constantinople alone has the privilege to judge and adjudicate conflicts of bishops, clergy and metropolitans of other patriarchs”.

“Its mission (i.e. of the Ecumenical Patriarchate) is not comprised of imposing some new ecclesiological principles but preserving truths of faith, precious traditions and inspired patristic teachings established many centuries ago… The Ecumenical Patriarchate bears the responsibility of setting matters in ecclesiastical and canonical order because it alone has the canonical privilege … to carry out this supreme and exceptional duty as a nurturing Mother and birth-giver of Churches,” summed up Patriarch Bartholomew.


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