The late February fraternal gathering of six local Orthodox churches in Amman was instructive and at the same time disheartening. Instructive because the gathering exposed truths in global Orthodoxy; disheartening because it was a sad showcasing of Orthodoxy to the world (for the presumably relatively few outsiders who are still paying attention to us).
The first hard truth it highlighted is the lack of deference local churches have towards the Moscow Patriarchate. It exposed Moscow’s lack of spiritual maturity (phronema) to play a pan-Orthodox role that is divorced from its national self-interest.
Ukraine achieved independence in 1991, and since then (and before, as well, dating back one hundred years) there have been efforts among the Orthodox faithful and their leaders—political and religious—to establish an independent (autocephalous) Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
And since 1991, the Moscow Patriarchate has been unable or unwilling to settle the schism in Ukraine that has left millions of Orthodox faithful there outside of the canonical Church. Now, after so many years, after so many studied requests, and after so many special appeals, the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople is responding—consistent with its ecclesiastical responsibility and canonical right—to heal the schism.
With great pastoral care and discernment, His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew recently stated that he “will not leave his Ukrainian sons unprotected and abandoned, [nor]…remain blind and deaf to the appeals that have been repeated for more than a quarter of a century.” Continue Reading…
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…
As someone who traveled to Crete for the Holy and Great Council, who attended both Synodal Divine Liturgies (for Pentecost and the Sunday of All Saints) and who spoke with and heard from dozens of bishops, I am disturbed by the “malicious words” (cf. 3 John) that some are spewing against it. Having had the remarkable opportunity to see the deep faithfulness and reverence bishops have for holy Orthodoxy, I was motivated to write a few observations, responses, and questions, calling into serious question the credibility of the Council’s detractors. Continue Reading…