Nicosia, Cyprus, April 19, 2019
Archbishop Chrysostomos of Cyprus (left), Patriarch John of Antioch (center-left), Patriarch Theodoros of Alexandria (center-right), Patriarch Theophilos of Jerusalem (right). Photo: antiochpatriarchate.org
The primates of four of the five ancient autocephalous Churches of the Orthodox Church—His Beatitude Patriarch John of Antioch, His Beatitude Patriarch Theodoros of Alexandria, His Beatitude Patriarch Theophilos of Jerusalem, and His Beatitude Archbishop Chrysostomos of Cyprus—met in Cyprus yesterday to discuss the burning Ukrainian issue, among other topics.
The four primates released a statement following their meeting, touching briefly on the topics they addressed. Though no particular decision or action was taken regarding the Ukrainian situation, the meeting was significant in that the primates of the four ancient Churches came together to discuss the issue of their own accord, without the involvement of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, and that Pat. John of Antioch and Pat. Theophilos of Jerusalem, whose Patriarchates have been out of communion with one another since 2013, held a private meeting to discuss the issue between their Churches, after previous attempts to solve the issue with the mediation of Patriarch Bartholomew failed.
It notes that the four primates met in Nicosia, Cyprus at the headquarters of the Church of Cyprus and that they prayed for the peace of the world and for the steadfastness of the Local Churches, especially in the Middle East, which are going through great trials. They also prayed for the faithful of the Middle East to be strengthened to continue their witness to the risen Christ, especially in the blessed land where Christ Himself and His apostles walked.
They stressed the need to make every effort to ensure stability in the Middle East, to consolidate the Christian presence in the region, and to deepen the cooperation between the Local Churches for this purpose. They also appealed to all the political players in the region to work towards the ending of the injustices suffered by the people as a result of wars, occupation, and economic difficulties.
During their private meeting, the Patriarchs of Antioch and Jerusalem spoke with a spirit of sincerity, brotherhood, and love, exchanging the views of their two Churches over the issue of the territory of Qatar. They expressed their sincere determination and good intentions to overcome the problem in the near future and renew Eucharistic communion.
The gathered primates also discussed various Church problems that have arisen from time to time, examining ways to put and end to these differences. In particular, they discussed the problems that have arisen from Constantinople’s creation of and granting autocephaly to a new ecclesiastical structure in Ukraine, made from two schismatic bodies.
Having been briefed by Abp. Chrysostomos on his initiative to gather the four primates of the ancient autocephalous Local Churches, the primates of Antioch, Alexandria, and Jerusalem supported him in his initiative in pursuit of the unity of the Orthodox Church in Jesus Christ.
Their Beatitudes called upon all concerned to work towards achieving full Eucharistic unity in the Church, which constitutes the perfection of the Church in Jesus Christ, and to protect their faithful, their churches, and their administrations from transgressions and all acts of violence.
The primates also expressed their sadness at the indifference of the countries and centers of power of this world to the fate of the His Eminence Metropolitan Boulos Yazigi of Aleppo of the Antiochian Orthodox Church and Metropolitan Gregorios Youhanna Ibrahim of Aleppo of the Syriac Church, emphasizing that the sixth anniversary of their abduction coincides with Holy Week this year.
Finally, the gathered Church heads affirmed their desire and determination to continue to communicate and work together for the good of the Church, stressing that though opinions may vary, the Church remains one, radiant with the grace of the incarnate Christ, following the path of salvation in this world.
They concluded by praying to the Lord Jesus Christ to heal the wounds of the people by His Divine and life-giving grace and keep all the faithful in the unity of faith and love, wishing everyone a blessed Pascha.
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