Moravica, Serbia, December 9, 2019
Patriarch Bartholomew could have turned to his fellow Orthodox Churches for assistance, but he chose instead to act in Ukraine under pressure from Greek lobbyists in the U.S., connected with American politicians, upon whose financial assistance he depends, His Grace Bishop Anthony of Moravica of the Serbian Orthodox Church believes.
The Patriarch chose the wrong path, the vicar to His Holiness Patriarch Irinej of Serbia said in a recent interview with the Serbian newspaper Novosti.
“Pat. Bartholomew was obviously under strong pressure from the Americans and the rich Greek lobby living in the United States. The Patriarchate of Constantinople is poor and is aided by wealthy Greeks associated with American politicians,” Bp. Anthony said. “They put the greatest pressure on Pat. Bartholomew to change his attitude and recognize the schism in Ukraine. The Americans fueled the conflict in Ukraine and put direct pressure on the Patriarch of Constantinople to support the schism. It is known that emissaries from Washington came to Istanbul and Kiev.”
Makary Maletich, the former head of the “Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church,” which joined the “Orthodox Church of Ukraine” at the so-called “unification council last year in December, openly admitted that Pat. Bartholomew acted as he did in Ukraine because he knew he had Western political support.
The other Orthodox Churches would have helped Constantinople, but the Patriarch “chose the wrong path, when he wants to rule the Orthodox Churches of other peoples living in the diaspora. Our Church does not want anyone else to run Serbian churches abroad,” Bp. Anthony said.
In addition to Pat. Bartholomew’s actions, the recognition of the Ukrainian schismatics by the Alexandrian and Greek primates worsens relations in the Orthodox world, Bp. Anthony commented. The only way out of the crisis, the Serbian hierarch believes, is for Pat. Bartholomew to admit his mistake, and for the matter to be taken up at a pan-Orthodox council.
To admit his mistake will not be easy for Pat. Bartholomew, “but it is in the interest of Orthodoxy… He should know that he has to contribute to ending the conflict in Ukraine, because too much blood has been shed and too many churches have been destroyed,” the Serbian hierarch said.
Bp. Anthony visited Odessa in Ukraine last year, where he commented:
We don’t understand: For 300 years there was one Church, and now suddenly everything has changed. It’s a canonical violation that destroys the traditions of the Church. And secondly, a tomos of autocephaly cannot be given by one Orthodox Church but through a consensus of all the Local Orthodox Churches. No one asked them about this issue and the majority of them do not agree with the decision of the Patriarchate of Constantinople.
And visiting Kiev in July this year in honor of His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine’s name’s day, Bp. Anthony praised the personal example that Met. Onuphry offers the Church, saying: “For every Orthodox person, His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry is an example of piety, monastic struggles, and, as the apostle Paul spoke about light, His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry is truly a light between the Orthodox Churches.”
Sources within the Jerusalem Patriarchate have also spoken about the pressure on His Beatitude Patriarch Theophilos coming from U.S. Democratic politicians.