Greece, December 2, 2019
Several hierarchs of the Greek Orthodox Church who are concerned for Church unity have appealed to the primates of the Local Orthodox Churches to convene a pan-Orthodox council to resolve the Ukrainian issue that is creating divisions within the Church.
It was reported last month that Metropolitans Seraphim of Piraeus and Seraphim of Kythira, both of whom have boldly spoken out on the Ukrainian issue several times, had written a joint letter appealing to Patriarch of Bartholomew of Constantinople and the heads of the other Local autocephalous Churches for a council to be called, and in the end, their signatures were joined by those of Metropolitans Kosmas of Aitolia and Acarnania and Andreas of Dryinoupolis, Pogoniani and Konitsa, reports Romfea.
Mets. Seraphim of Seraphim revealed after the October 12 session of the Bishops’ Council of the Greek Orthodox Church that no vote had been taken on the matter of recognizing the schismatic OCU. In the end, however, Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens decided to recognize them anyways.
The metropolitans’ letter states that it is the duty of bishops and primates to “preserve, not violate, the canonical, ecclesiological and liturgical unity of the Church.”
The Greek hierarchs also emphasize that the Orthodox Church is conciliar, not ruled by one primate. Attempts to paint Constantinople as the head of all Orthodoxy are misguided and dangerous for the Church. Rather, all primates are equal, “differing only in the order of honor,” the metropolitans write.
They also point to the fact that the creation of the “Orthodox Church of Ukraine,” the introduction of unrepentant, defrocked, anathematized, and non-ordained schismatics, has no canonical justification and did not create the desired unity, but on the contrary, only created more and deeper divisions in the Church. Also without justification was the sudden revocation of the 1686 document that transferred the Kiev Metropolis to the Russian Orthodox Church, as even Patriarch Bartholomew always recognized Ukraine as the canonical territory of the Russian Church until last year.
Referring to numerous canons and conciliar decisions, the metropolitans write that Apostolic Succession is necessary for any Sacrament, while the OCU is wholly lacking in it.
In their view, a council should be convened as soon as possible to discuss this problem that continues to threaten devastating consequences for the unity of the Church.
His Beatitude Patriarch Theophilos of Jerusalem recently invited all the primates to gather in Jordan to discuss ways to preserve Church unity against the background of the Ukrainian crisis, but Abp. Ieronymos of Athens immediately stated that he would not participate in any effort at Church unity unless it was initiated by Pat. Bartholomew.