For the past four months not a single Local Orthodox Church has recognized the act committed by Patriarch Bartholomew in flagrant violation of Church canons. A number of Churches officially expressed their disagreement with this act, as well as their non-recognition of the legalization of the schismatics, and expressed their support for the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church led by Metropolitan Onuphry. Other Churches took time to examine the situation. None of them has supported the lawlessness. Why?
As of today, four of the five Grecophone Churches have not united with the Constantinople Church, while the fifth—the Church of Greece—is waiting and remaining silent. Furthermore, two Churches, of Cyprus and Albania, have synodically resolved to require that a Pan-Orthodox Council be convened to decide the Ukraine question.
While the statement has been condemned in the broader opinion of the Sacred Community, we have decided to make comments on the statement for the good of our readers, as the attitudes in the statement are unfortunately prevalent in certain Church circles today.
While Poroshenko has gained the backing of the Patriarch of Constantinople, the rest of the Orthodox world has taken a wait-and-see attitude since, in the tradition of Orthodox Christianity, the consequences of these actions will not become fully manifest until far into the future.
The disciplinary measure in this case is a warning to all the faithful of the Russian Church and the entire Orthodox world that the Phanar has violated the canons of Orthodoxy, that it has openly declared the heresy of Eastern papism.
Our hearts bleed for our brethren and sisters afflicted by these events, and we call all Orthodox peoples to fervent prayer on behalf of His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry, his fellow Hierarchs, and all suffering faithful in Ukraine and in every land.
We state that the idea of overcoming the church schism in Ukraine by the granting of a Tomos of autocephaly to the non-canonical church groups (“UOC-KP” and “UAOC”) has turned out to be a grave error.
After the information (of March 26, 2019) that the Italian translation of the Patriarchal Letter of March 9, 2019 was inserted within the “category of texts of Dogmatic and Symbolic Theology” it was decided to make the related answer of the Orthodox Autocephalous Church of Albania (March 9, 2019) public.
It is universally recognized as a basic ecclesiological principle that the ordinations of heretics and schismatics, and especially of those who are deposed and excommunicated, as a “Sacrament,” celebrated by all the Churches, are invalid. This basic principle is inextricably bound with the Orthodox teaching on the Holy Spirit and constitutes an unshakeable foundation of the Apostolic succession of Orthodox bishops. It is our conviction that this principle cannot be ignored.
Since I became Orthodox, one of the big things I have been concerned with is trying to bring people into the Church. It’s harder to bring people into the Church now because it’s harder to explain what Orthodoxy is.
For Russia, the situation involves both a dispute over canonical territory and a protest against the claims of Constantinople to be “first among equals” and have universal authority. The first is jurisdictional, the second a matter of the rule of faith.