New York, October 2, 2018
The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, headed by His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios, Geron of America, has expressed its support for the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s plans to create an autocephalous Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
The Archdiocese is an eparchy of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and is the first ecclesiastical body besides the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA, also a jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, to express support for Constantinople’s unilateral actions.
The statement published on its site on September 28 recounts the recent history from April 20, when the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate voted “to proceed with taking the necessary steps for granting autocephaly to the Orthodox Christians of Ukraine,” and then began sending representative hierarchs to visit the sister Orthodox Churches “in order to inform them and explain its decision,” after which, in early September, it appointed two exarchs in Kiev “to deliberate with congregations and communities, as well as all parties and individuals involved in the granting of the Tomos [of autocephaly—O.C.].
The statement also follows the Constantinopolitan line that Ukraine has always been its canonical territory.
Referring to the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s role as the first among equals, the statement explains:
In its ecclesial responsibility and regard for healing divisions and strengthening unity among the Autocephalous Orthodox Churches, the Ecumenical Patriarchate is sometimes obliged to adopt difficult resolutions. In its historical role and right to hear appeals from Churches isolated for diverse reasons from the rest of the Orthodox Church, the Ecumenical Patriarchate is occasionally compelled to assume painful initiatives. Finally, in its traditional consideration and maternal concern not to neglect even a single lost sheep (as in Christ’s parable in Luke 15.1-7), the Ecumenical Patriarchate is from time-to-time required to reach out in reconciliation and forgiveness.
The statement ends by pointing to other sources showing “the historical reasons in support of the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s involvement in seeking a canonical resolution to the ecclesiastical anomaly in Ukraine.”
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