Athens, June 6, 2018
His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew met with His Beatitude Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens at his Athenian residence yesterday to discuss, among other issues, the controversial ongoing questions surrounding the Ukrainian and Macedonian schismatic churches.
The patriarch is in Greece for the ecological symposium “Toward a Greener Attica—Preserving the Planet and Protecting its People.” He also headed the glorification of St. Iakovos (Tsalikis) of Evia on the Greek island on Saturday and Sunday.
At their meeting, the Constantinople and Greek primates discussed the hot-button issue of the possibility of the granting of a tomos of autocephaly to a united Ukrainian church, made up of the schismatic hierarchs of the “Kiev Patriarchate” and of the “Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church.”
With the backing of the nation’s parliament and the schismatic hierarchs, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko recently appealed to the Ecumenical Patriarchate to create and grant autocephaly to a new Ukrainian Church that would be separate from the Russian Orthodox Church. The Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate later announced that it would initiate a dialogue on the matter with the other Orthodox Churches of the world.
While no details of yesterday’s conversation are available, Abp. Ieronymos expressed a neutral attitude to the issue at an earlier meeting with Constantinople representatives, stating only that it is a significant issue that would have to be taken up by the Bishops’ Council of the Greek Orthodox Church in October.
The Ecumenical Patriarchate’s delegation responded that “in any case, the process [of Constantinople proclaiming autocephaly] will continue.”
Pat. Bartholomew and Abp. Ieronymos also discussed the issue of the schismatic Macedonian Orthodox church, which reached out to the Bulgarian Orthodox Church in November for assistance in becoming a canonically-recognized autocephalous Church. The Bulgarian Church agreed to help, which greatly angered the Churches of Serbia, from which the Macedonian church initially schismed, and Greece, and also the Ecumenical Patriarchate. Pat. Bartholomew has publicly asserted Constantinople’s role as the Mother Church of all Balkan nations.
The Macedonian church then appealed to the Ecumenical Patriarchate as well, which resolved at its May 30 session to take up this issue and take appropriate measures “under the essential conditions of the observance of the historical-canonical powers and privileges of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.”
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