by Fr. Bohdan Hladio
The historical path of the Church in Ukraine is controverted and complex: both Moscow and Constantinople claim Ukraine as their canonical territory. As a result, one of the largest Orthodox Churches in the world has experienced schism for over twenty-five years.
In April 2018 the Government of Ukraine officially requested a Tomos of Autocephaly for the Orthodox Church in Ukraine from the Ecumenical Patriarchate. This news brought joy to some, and caused anxiety for others.
In response, the Synod of Bishops of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate) (UOC-MP) published an “Appeal to the Faithful of the UOC” on May 25 2018 (English translation). Sadly, this document contributes little towards the normalization of the ecclesial scene in Ukraine.
The Appeal refers to a “schism in Ukrainian Orthodoxy,” implicitly recognizing that the Orthodox Church in Ukraine extends beyond the borders of the canonically recognized Moscow Patriarchate jurisdiction, which is useful. Other statements, however, portray the struggle for Church unity somewhat disingenuously. Continue Reading…
by Rev. Dr. Nicolas Kazarian | ελληνικά | ру́сский | српски
The contemporary Pan-Orthodox conciliar process appeared in parallel to the creation in 1920 of the first global, political and multilateral institution, the League of Nations, which later became the United Nations after the Second World War. This correlation is even more apparent when we look at the well-known Encyclical of the Ecumenical Patriarchate issued in 1920, which clearly established a link between the international response to the tragedy of the Great War and the multilateral engagement of states in preventing future war and called Churches to come together and act as peace builders.
“Wherefore, considering such an endeavor to be both possible and timely especially in view of the hopeful establishment of the League of Nations we venture to express below in brief our thoughts and our opinion regarding the way in which we understand this rapprochement and contact and how we consider it to be realizable; we earnestly ask and invite the judgment and the opinion of the other sister churches in the East and of the venerable Christian churches in the West and everywhere in the world.”
This quote is often used as proof of the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s leadership in terms of Ecumenical Dialogue. The creation of the World Council of Churches three years after the United Nations, in 1948, proved it right. Continue Reading…
by the Hon. B. Theodore Bozonelis | ελληνικά | ру́сский
Despite the world-wide recognition of the status of His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew as the spiritual leader of all Orthodox Christians, the government of Turkey will give no legal standing and status to the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the historical Holy Center of Orthodox Christianity at the Phanar, in Istanbul. The lack of legal standing and status in essence nullifies property and other fundamental civil rights in Turkey for the Ecumenical Patriarchate which precludes its full exercise of religious freedom. The Ecumenical Patriarchate cannot own in its name the churches to serve the faithful or the cemeteries to provide for their repose. Since it lacks a legal standing, the Ecumenical Patriarchate is powerless to pursue legal remedies to assert property rights or even seek to repair deteriorating property without government approval.
Instead and in lieu of legal standing, Turkey has established a system of minority (community) foundations for Orthodox Christians and other non-Muslim religious minorities to hold properties supervised and controlled by the Turkish government’s General Directorate of Foundations. The Directorate regulates all the activities of religious community foundations which include approximately 75 Greek Orthodox, 42 Armenian and 19 Jewish foundations. The 1935 Law on Religious Foundations, and a subsequent 1936 Decree, required all foundations, Muslim or non-Muslim, to declare their properties by registering the same with the General Directorate of Foundations. Continue Reading…
by Evagelos Sotiropoulos
Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew occupies a unique position in Christendom and shepherds his flock from an almost Muslim-only country: Turkey.
Headquartered in Constantinople, present-day Istanbul, the Ecumenical Patriarchate experienced prominence during the millennial-long Byzantine Empire, but persecution following the Fall of Constantinople in 1453 and emergence of Ottoman rule, eloquently captured in Sir Steven Runciman’s classic The Great Church in Captivity.
Today, Bartholomew’s role is purely religious and like his predecessors he is primus inter pares (first among equals) in the hierarchy of global Orthodoxy, which is administratively comprised of 14 self-governing churches who share the same faith.
The Church of Russia is fifth in order of precedence, following Constantinople, and the other ancient Patriarchates: Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem. Its long-standing desire to be first, however, is well-known and unconcealed. Continue Reading…