Istanbul, December 2, 2019
The Patriarchate of Constantinople celebrated its patronal feast on November 30, in honor of its founder St. Andrew the First-Called Apostle. Patriarch Bartholomew was joined by a number of hierarchs from the Patriarchate, Patriarch Theodoros of Alexandria, and representative hierarchs from the Church of Cyprus, the Ukrainian schismatics, and the Roman Catholic church.
Representing the schismatic “Orthodox Church of Ukraine” were “Archbishop” Evstraty Zorya, formerly the faithful sidekick to “Patriarch” Philaret Denisenko, and “Metropolitan” Michael (Zinkevich), reports Romfea.
Pat. Theodoros of Alexandria, who decided to recognize the schismatics and commemorate Epiphany Dumenko last month, heartily greeted Zorya and Zinkevich, saying, “few people can understand Ukraine and boast about it as much as I do,” referring to his years of service in Odessa.
Until November, Pat. Theodoros spoke of how he understood the lawlessness of the schismatics and stood with His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine as the canonical primate in Ukraine.
He also extolled the OCU as a “martyric church” and said he was certain it will prosper, with the “modest” Epiphany at the helm.
In the photos published by Romfea, it can be seen that Metropolitan Vasilios of Constantia and Ammochostos of the Cypriot Orthodox Church also served with the Patriarchs and the schismatic Evstraty Zorya. The Cypriot Church has not recognized or entered into communion with the OCU, and it is known that several of its hierarchs are strongly against recognition.
His Eminence Metropolitan Nikephoros of Kykkos recently told a monastic conference that Patriarch Bartholomew acted anti-canonically in Ukraine.
For his part, Pat. Bartholomew expressed his great delight at the presence of the Catholic delegation led by Cardinal Kurt Koch, President of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity, saying his presence was a symbol of the desire for full unity between the Orthodox and Catholics.
Pat. Bartholomew expressed his satisfaction with the 40-year dialogue between the Orthodox and Catholic churches, saying and stressed the importance of further developing the dialogue, emphasizing that “the common canonical tradition of the first millennium is a theoretical and practical foundation complementing our long-standing dialogue of truth and love.”
“May Almighty God, through the blessings of the apostles Peter and Andrew, bless and strengthen our common efforts to restore integral communication between our two fraternal churches,” the primate of Constantinople said.
In turn, Cardinal Koch read a message from Pope Francis in which he expressed his firm desire to restore full-fledged communion between the Catholics and Orthodox.
Pat. Bartholomew reportedly recently told a group of Athonite abbots and monks that reunion with the Catholic church is inevitable and that there are no dogmatic differences between the two churches.