Athens, December 11, 2015
A strain in relations between the Church of Greece and the Patriarchate of Constantinople is growing under the impact of political and other factors, reported an expert in Church circles to RIA-Novosti, commenting on the refusal of Archbishop Ieronymos II of Athens and All Greece to take part in an upcoming meeting in January 2016 in Istanbul, dedicated to the preparation for the Pan-Orthodox Council, scheduled for next year.
Earlier some media (including Romfea) reported that Archbishop Ieronymos had declined to be present at the meeting, organized by the Patriarchate of Constantinople in January for discussion of preparations for the above-mentioned Council.
At its meeting on December 8, the Holy Synod of the Church of Greece decreed that the delegation headed by Metropolitan Elias of Karystia was to represent the archbishop at the forthcoming assembly.
“In the experts’ view, the relationships between the Patriarch of Constantinople and the Archbishop of Athens have been characterized by a growing tension,” reported an informed representative of Church circles to RIA-Novosti.
According to the expert, “One of the signs of this tension was the invitation by Patriarch Bartholomew of all the hierarchs of the Patriarchate of Constantinople and bishops of North Greece, who belong to the Church of Greece and are members of its Synod of Hierarchs, to a meeting that was held late in August-early in September in Istanbul”.
“And the Archbishop of Athens was even not informed about the invitation of these hierarchs,” he added.
According to him, the Archbishop of Athens is also deeply concerned over the actions of representative of the Patriarchate of Constantinople in Athens Metropolitan Amphilochius. According to the information obtained by the agency’s spokesman, this metropolitan started construction of a church and an administrative building without asking for permission of the Archbishop of Athens.
“We also cannot rule out the influence of a political factor. The recent provocative and unauthorized flying of Turkish aircrafts in Greek airspace caused the Greek authorities serious anxiety,” the agency’s spokesman noted.
The decision of the primate of the Church of Greece, he added, can be considered to be “another signal indicating that the proposal of Patriarch Bartholomew to hold a Pan-Orthodox Council in Istanbul in 2016 is likely to face serious impediments to its implementation”.
Among these impediments is the rupture of Eucharistic communion between the Local Orthodox Churches of Antioch and Jerusalem that took place in April 2014.