A Simple “Reading” of the Tomos of Autocephaly

    

Two months ago, I bitterly learned that the calligrapher of the tomos of autocephaly of the Ukrainian church was an Athonite monk.1 According to the call of my conscience, being myself an Athonite, I wanted to write something about it. Thus, I read the text of the tomos after it was published on the site of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and wrote the following remarks. But in the end, I did not publish them, waiting for others (more competent and well-informed) to speak out on this theme orally and in writing. Much has been written and said about the tomos recently, and I wouldn’t have thrown my own mite in if it hadn’t become recently known that four or five Athonite monasteries responded positively to the invitation from Epiphany [the schismatic primate—Trans.] sent to the Sacred Community to send a delegation to his enthronement,2 and that two or three Athonites (including the abbot of the hieromonk who wrote the tomos) were members of the delegation of the Patriarchate of Constantinople at the enthronement.

Therefore, I present my observations and apprehensions arising from a study of the tomos.

After the first introductory paragraph of the tomos, the following words, concerning the main theme of Ukrainian autocephaly, begin with a mistake (and a gross mistake at that): The text says that the Church leaders of Ukraine have supposedly been fervently asking for Church independence for their country for thirty years (verbatim: “Ukraine has been fortified and magnified by heavenly providence, while also acquiring comprehensive political independence, and inasmuch as its civil and church leaders have avidly sought its ecclesiastical self-administration over more than thirty years…”), which actually is not true, inasmuch as those deposed and excommunicated from the Church or non-ordained cannot be called the ecclesiastical leaders of their country, especially when they are followed by only a small part of the faithful.

Continuing with the text “we determine and declare,” it is written “that the entire Orthodox Church contained within the boundaries of the … State of Ukraine, with its sacred Metropolitan, Archdiocesan and Episcopal sees, its monasteries and parishes, as well as all the ecclesiastical institutions therein … shall hereafter exist as canonically autocephalous … having and recognizing as its First Hierarch in all church matters its presiding canonical Primate,” whom the last paragraph of the text explains is Epiphany!

Without even thinking about whether the Patriarch has the right to unilaterally define and solve the complex Ukrainian question, anyone would ask himself: Did the metropolias and dioceses of the ninety bishops, containing about 12,500 parishes, 250 monasteries, and 5,000 monastics, and other numerous institutions of the autonomous Ukrainian Church, under the Moscow Patriarchate, really cease to exist? Or did they unite with Epiphany’s schismatics? We know that didn’t happen. What then applies to them in accordance with the provisions introduced by the tomos? Will they be subject to Epiphany or will they now become anti-canonical and unlawful from the ecclesiastical point of view? Indeed, such a conclusion arises from reading the text! And, therefore, for those who recognize the tomos as valid, the Church that was until recently “the only canonical Church of Ukraine” (according to the declaration of the Patriarchate of Constantinople itself), is now unlawful!

Does anyone wonder what canonical crime these people committed that the Patriarch of Constantinople treated them this way? Maybe they’re guilty of not wanting to become autocephalous and enter into communion with unrepentant schismatics?

The text of the tomos goes on to say that “we recognize and declare this” newly-created “Autocephalous Church … as our spiritual daughter, and recommend that all Orthodox Churches throughout the world acknowledge” it as a sister. But what these relationships between autocephalous Churches mean is not explained. Does it mean that in addition to the other obligations that the new church takes upon itself before the Patriarchate (which the statutes speak about more clearly), it will also be morally obliged to obey? And that other autocephalous Churches are like daughters before Constantinople (and sisters among themselves)?

However, it’s stated somewhat differently later on: “In addition to the above, we declare that the Autocephalous Church in Ukraine knows as its head the most holy Apostolic and Patriarchal Ecumenical Throne, just as the rest of the Patriarchs and Primates also do.” Does no one really question how an autocephalous Church has another Church as its head, after all (as we know), the Head of the Orthodox Church is our Lord Jesus Christ and not any patriarchal see (cf. Eph. 5:23, Col. 1:18).

Further, the text says that parishes already existing outside the state are from now on subject to “the order of the Ecumenical Throne, which has canonical authority in the diaspora.” But to what diaspora this refers is again not explained: to the Ukrainian diaspora or to the Orthodox diaspora in general? If it applies to the Orthodox diaspora (most likely), then why do so many other Patriarchates (Antiochian, Moscow, Serbian, Romanian, etc.) have bishops and parishes abroad, in countries that do not belong to another autocephalous Church? Perhaps the order and jurisdiction that the tomos refers to regarding the diaspora is not generally recognized?

But the crown of all the above-enumerated problems is the following provision. The text talks about how hierarchs and other clergy of the new church will have the right “to address petitions of appeal to the Ecumenical Patriarch, who bears the canonical responsibility of irrevocably passing judgment over matters related to bishops and other clergy in local Churches, in accordance with the sacred Canons 9 and 17 of the Fourth Ecumenical Council in Chalcedon.” However, anyone who has the chance to open and read The Pedalion [The Rudder—Trans.] of St. Nikodemos of the Holy Mountain will find that the two rules mentioned above by the tomos apply only to the clergy of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, not to the clergy of other Patriarchates. At present, the autocephalous Local Churches do not recognize this privilege of the Patriarchate of Constantinople.3 Thus, the recognition of the tomos as legitimate implies the recognition of a very great “privilege” for the Patriarchate of Constantinople, which, rather, should only be worthy of the supposedly infallible Pope of Rome, and not of an Orthodox hierarch or throne.

Thus, based on the above, I think that the “calligraphy” of the tomos of autocephaly looks like a charter for the division of the Orthodox. Of course, I hope that the Lord will turn this division into unity in truth.

An Athonite Monk-Member of the Sacred Community
Translated by Jesse Dominick

3/5/2019


1 A monk of Xenophontos Monastery.

2 In the end, an Athonite delegation was not sent due to the negative attitude of the majority of the monasteries.

3 Cf. “’It is Not Too Late to Stop.’ A Sorrowful Reply to Patriarch Bartholomew Concerning His Anti-Canonical Actions in Ukraine.”

See also
Archbishop Michael of Prague bans his clergy from serving with Ukrainian schismatics Archbishop Michael of Prague bans his clergy from serving with Ukrainian schismatics Archbishop Michael of Prague bans his clergy from serving with Ukrainian schismatics Archbishop Michael of Prague bans his clergy from serving with Ukrainian schismatics
The clergy of the Prague Diocese of the Church of the Czech Lands and Slovakia have been officially banned from serving with clergy of the schismatic Ukrainian group created by Constantinople on December 15.
It is Unacceptable to Have Eucharistic Communion with Unordained Schismatics It is Unacceptable to Have Eucharistic Communion with Unordained Schismatics
Met. Nikiforos of Kykkos
It is Unacceptable to Have Eucharistic Communion with Unordained Schismatics It is Unacceptable to Have Eucharistic Communion with Unordained Schismatics
Commentary on the Ukrainian Issue for the Cypriot Holy Synod
Metropolitan Nikiforos of Kykkos
I can draw only one conclusion. Sadly enough, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew’s granting of autocephalous status to the schismatic community of Philaret and Epiphany not only did not heal the existing schism in Ukraine, but on the contrary, aggravated it.
Schismatics’ report on Mt. Athos visit: Served Liturgy at two monasteries, communed at a third Schismatics’ report on Mt. Athos visit: Served Liturgy at two monasteries, communed at a third Schismatics’ report on Mt. Athos visit: Served Liturgy at two monasteries, communed at a third Schismatics’ report on Mt. Athos visit: Served Liturgy at two monasteries, communed at a third
At present, it is unclear how much of the report is reliable. Some of the information contradicts that which has been previously reported by reliable sources.
Constantinople’s goal is to impose its authority over the entire Church—Met. Daniil of Bulgarian Church Constantinople’s goal is to impose its authority over the entire Church—Met. Daniil of Bulgarian Church Constantinople’s goal is to impose its authority over the entire Church—Met. Daniil of Bulgarian Church Constantinople’s goal is to impose its authority over the entire Church—Met. Daniil of Bulgarian Church
The actions of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, including in Ukraine, show that it’s more important for Patriarch Bartholomew to impose his power over the Orthodox Church than to find consent and unity, His Eminence Metropolitan Daniil of Vidin of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church stated to RIA-Novosti yesterday.
Ukrainian metropolitan to Abbot Alexios of Xenophontos: “Whoever serves with schismatics also becomes a schismatic” Ukrainian metropolitan to Abbot Alexios of Xenophontos: “Whoever serves with schismatics also becomes a schismatic” Ukrainian metropolitan to Abbot Alexios of Xenophontos: “Whoever serves with schismatics also becomes a schismatic” Ukrainian metropolitan to Abbot Alexios of Xenophontos: “Whoever serves with schismatics also becomes a schismatic”
His Eminence Metropolitan Agafangel of Odessa and Izmail, the longest-serving hierarch of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church, sent a letter to Archimandrite Alexios, the abbot of the Athonite monastery of Xenophontos, entreating him not to participate in the enthronement of “Metropolitan” Epiphany Dumenko, the primate of the Ukrainian schismatic church.
Met. Kallistos (Ware): Crete was far from pan-Orthodox; Constantinople gave autocephaly to schismatics Met. Kallistos (Ware): Crete was far from pan-Orthodox; Constantinople gave autocephaly to schismatics Met. Kallistos (Ware): Crete was far from pan-Orthodox; Constantinople gave autocephaly to schismatics Met. Kallistos (Ware): Crete was far from pan-Orthodox; Constantinople gave autocephaly to schismatics
Met. Kallistos went over the history of primacy and synodality in the Church and reflected upon the current state of the Church, making especially interesting comments on 2016’s Crete Council and the current crisis created by Constantinople’s interference in the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
Comments
Haeul3/18/2019 10:33 pm
@Gary Cox

Yes! By all means, pray for him, because it is people like him who most need our prayers. It is not for us to sit in judgement of others and declare them incapable of redemption.

@Isidora

You are allowing (justified) anger to cloud your judgement and go too far in your criticism. Things are never as simple as they seem. Bartholomew and his cabal have erred, and erred greatly, but to say that an entire autocephalous Church has abandoned Orthodoxy is to go a step too far. As is the claim that Mount Athos, which is made up of far more than the four problematic monasteries, "is fallen" as a whole.
Haeul3/18/2019 10:27 pm
@Popsy

St. Gabriel the Fool for Christ, who just so happens to be a Georgian. We shouldn't place too much trust in 'prophecies', in particular when then there is reason to suspect that they are no more than the product of one man's love for his own country. As numerous Church Fathers have testified through the ages, not all visions are from God.

So, let's lay off the doom and gloom, and always keep the hope of Resurrection in our hearts. God is always with us - all of us - and so are his siants.
Gary Cox3/11/2019 4:39 am
Maria is right. Vote with our feet!
Mikhail3/7/2019 3:51 am
You are correct, Popsy. The Orthodox world used to look toward Mount Athos as a guiding light of wisdom. Now we see four monasteries spewing the same anti-Russian propaganda that we see coming from the Ukrainian fascist government. It breaks my heart.
Popsy3/6/2019 12:28 pm
Athos used to be the guiding light in times like these and is not anymore. People used to say: Let's wait for Mount Athos to talk or take action and then we'll decide. Well... not anymore. Instead of clear and strong, we see washed out, dull messages coming from Athos. I'm not sure if it became a tourist trap, but definitely is not what it used to be.
There are prophecies about the falling of Mount Athos: women being allowed there and the Icon of the Mother of God from Iveron leaving the Mountain on water and going back to Iveron (Georgia).
According to St. Gabriel the Fool for Christ, Georgia is going to be the only area protected by the Theotokos in the times to come.

May God help us!
Anthony3/6/2019 8:44 am
''Athos is fallen--nothing but a tourist trap''{!!!) Beloved Isidora!!! Sweet pea in a pod!!! Make not such ridikulous statements!!! Such words are unbecoming of any Christian, worthy of the title Orthodox. Remember beloved one, how when our own Geronda Iosif Isihastis went up upon the mountain, it too was becoming a barren wasteland. And look what happened with a touch of asceticism here, and a fast there. Look at the fruits our beloved Geronda brought forth. GIANTS! Like Gerondas Efraim (Philotheitis), Geron Nikon (Ayia Annananitis),and the list goes on. As our own beloved Ayios Gerondas Paisios said,a storm will pass and then God will wash the flotsam away.All intentions will be manifest!
Maria3/5/2019 11:17 pm
The only way to stop heretical patriarchs is by walling yourself off from their heresy. We all share the responsibility to do the right thing (or whatever permits us) to defend our faith and it's not just the problem of the clergy. Vote with your feet by switching to a parish where at least the priest is genuinely Orthodox in his confession. Staying in a parish where the priest is of the same mindset of Bartholomew thinking you can fight from within is useless. Note that Fr. Ephraim of Arizona who is under EP cannot even speak openly in fear of losing his monasteries. GOARCH is the biggest cash cow that supports Bartholomew in financing his trips to the Vatican and ecumenist activities.
Mikhail3/5/2019 10:00 pm
The hierarchs of the other Churches must not wait! Silence is unacceptable. They cannot hide their heads in the sand or continue to kick the can down the road. The longer they wait, the more intense will be the persecutions and violence against the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church and Her faithful.

The epitome of lukewarmness, is to verbally oppose uncanonical actions or heresies in the Church……..and then do nothing.
Mikhail3/5/2019 7:49 pm
The Athonite monk has revealed this tragedy in very easy to understand explanations. Thank you Father.

Now is the time to eliminate the grey areas!
Isidora3/5/2019 3:45 pm
Constantinople became a papacy in the early 1900's. It's first global act was declaring the calendar changed to conform Orthodoxy to the Roman pope and his Protestants. The declaration was enforced by bloody violence against priests and parishioners in Greece and against monks on Mount Athos.
World Orthodoxy either went along with it or stood by and did nothing effective (disrupting communion for a brief period is nothing). Things proceed from there with accumulating bites, ignored by World Orthodoxy.
Now we have Ukraine. World Orthodoxy reacts same way, all talk, trying to outdo each other in clever assessment. Next pander to LGBTQIP.

Athos is fallen--nothing but a tourist trap.
Gary Cox3/5/2019 12:56 pm
And now I wonder. Are we to pray for constantinople? I think at this point in time we pray for him to repent of trying to force all Orthodox Christians to submit to HIM. But is there a time when we shouldn't? Do we pray for judas ?, for arius? If he really believes that one Bishop should rule the whole Church then why not the pope instead of himself? Is he really so delusional? There is a place called HELL. Does he think he can give himself absolution and not be put there? Could this be happening because faith has grown weak? How many Orthodox Christians now believe abortion and homosexuality are good things? May GOD help us all!
Popsy3/5/2019 12:46 pm
I think that "Patriarch" Bartholomew is paving the way towards becoming the Pope of Constantinople, brother to the Pope of Rome, his superior.
Defrocking is the solution, otherwise we're in trouble.

May God help us!
Gary Cox 3/5/2019 12:30 pm
I have a feeling that until the Lord comes again there will be some people who will follow constantinople blindly no matter what (hopefully not many) and the rest of us who see him as a nasty little man who has hurt many innocent Christians. This is causing harm to Orthodox Christians around the world. Is he blind himself? Patriarchs didn't show up at his attempted power grab he called the great and holy council and he got his little feelings hurt? Lent is upon us, let us pray for him and ourselves.
Here you can leave your comment on the present article, not exceeding 700 characters. All comments will be read by the editors of OrthoChristian.Com.
Enter through FaceBook
Your name:
Your e-mail:
Enter the digits, seen on picture:

Characters remaining: 700

Subscribe
to our mailing list

* indicates required
×