Warsaw, January 24, 2020
As the time for the Patriarch of Jerusalem’s proposed late-February gathering in Jordan draws nearer, it remains unclear how many primates will attend, or if the event will materialize at all.
To date, only two Churches—of Russia and of the Czech Lands and Slovakia—have officially and publicly supported his initiative, while Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens declared his official rejection at a recent session of the Greek Holy Synod, and Archbishop Chrysostomos of Cyprus stated that did not even intend to answer Jerusalem’s letter of invitation.
Patriarch Theodoros of Alexandria has, unsurprisingly, also expressed his negative take on the matter, as has His Beatitude Archbishop Anastasios of Albania, according to orthodoxia.info.
Pat. Theodoros suddenly took the unilateral step of commemorating the schismatic primate Epiphany Dumenko on November 8. Abp. Anastasios also made a call for a pan-Orthodox council around the same time that Pat. Theophilos first announced his initiative, though he specified that he believes it should be called by Pat. Bartholomew.
Patriarch John of Antioch publicly acknowledged his reception of the invitation, though neither he nor the Antiochian Holy Synod has announced a position on the matter. It is well-known, however, that the Church of Antioch strongly opposes the Patriarchate of Constantinople’s non-canonical intervention in Ukraine and refuses to recognize the schismatic “Orthodox Church of Ukraine.”
The Antiochian primate has personally called upon Patriarch Bartholomew to convene a pan-Orthodox council on the matter, though the Patriarch of Constantinople directly refused, citing his disappointment that four Local Churches did not attend the Crete Council in 2016.
According to orthodoxia.info’s “well-informed sources,” His Beatitude Met. Sawa of Poland also responded negatively to Pat. Theophilos’ invitation, saying it’s a nice idea, but all the primates have to participate for it to be effective. Such issues are solved in the vein of the council convened by Pat. Bartholomew in 1998 to address the schism that existed in the Bulgarian Church at that time, Met. Sawa reportedly says.
The Polish Church was among the first to officially reject the Ukrainian schismatics after they were “rehabilitated” by Constantinople. The hierarchs later officially rejected Pat. Bartholomew’s request to recognize the schismatic “Orthodox Church of Ukraine,” and in October, the Bishops’ Council of the Polish Church issued a statement saying that allowing schismatics in the Church violates the Eucharistic unity of the Church.
Earlier, in October of 2018, Met. Sawa called on Pat. Bartholomew to convene a pan-Orthodox council to resolve the Ukrainian crisis—a call that was repeated by the Polish primate and Synod and other hierarchs many times.
The Union of Orthodox Journalists recently published an article comparing the case of the Bulgarian schism and the current schism in Ukraine, and more can be read about the council at Orthodox History.