Balamand, Lebanon, October 6, 2018
The Holy Synod of the Church of Antioch finished its latest session today, and has released a statement in regard to the ongoing crisis situation in Ukraine caused by the Ecumenical Patriarchate's unilateral incursrion into the canonical territory of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church with the intent of unilaterally granting autocephaly to Ukrainian schismatics.
His Beatitude Patriarch John X of Antioch and All the East has previously expressed his support for the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church and the Moscow Patriarchate. After meeting with the Patriarch in June, Russian State Deputy Dmitry Sablin reported that, “The Patriarch noted that the Antiochian Church stands together with the Russian Church, speaking against the Church schism in Ukraine.”
The Antiochian Synod met at the Our Lady of Balamand Patriarchal Monastery in Lebanon from Wednesday through today, producing a statement "Concerning the Current Developments in the Orthodox World," posted on the Patriarchate's Facebook page.
The statement makes several points:
- A unilateral reading of history does not serve Church unity but rather fuels dissension in the Church;
- Establishing parallel jurisdictions is not a way to solve conflicts in the Church;
- Granting autocephaly requires the agreement of the Mother Church and the acknowledgement of all autocephalous Orthodox Churches (The Georgian Holy Synod has also noted the need for the Moscow Patriarchate, the Mother Church of the Ukrainian Church, to be involved in the discussion);
- It is dangerous to involve the Church in politics and nationalism (The Bulgarian Holy Synod, His Beatitude Metropolitan Rostislav of the Czech Lands and Slovakia, His Beatitude Metropolitan Onurphy of Kiev and All Ukraine, and His Eminence Metropolitan Seraphim of Piraeus have argued the same);
- The Ecumenical Patriarch should convene a pan-Orthodox synaxis of the primates to discuss the issue of granting autocephaly to new Churches (His Beatitude Metropolitan Sawa of Warsaw and All Poland has made the same call);
- There is a need for spiritual vigilance and unity and watchfulness against falling into the “trap of political entanglement.”
The full statement (lightly edited by OrthoChristian.com) reads:
“The fathers examined the general Orthodox situation. They stressed that the Church of Antioch expresses her deep worries about the attempts to change the boundaries of the Orthodox Churches through a new reading of history. She considers that resorting to a unilateral reading of history does not serve Orthodox unity. It rather contributes to the fueling of the dissensions and quarrels within the one Church. Thus, the Church of Antioch refuses the principle of establishing parallel jurisdictions within the canonical boundaries of the Patriarchates and the autocephalous Churches as a way to solve conflicts, or as a de facto situation in the Orthodox world.
“The fathers of the Church of Antioch underline that any approach for granting the autocephaly of a certain Church has to be in accordance with the Orthodox ecclesiology and the principles agreed upon by the Churches in a conciliar way in the past years. These principles for granting autocephaly are about the necessity to obtain the agreement of the Mother Church and the acknowledgement of all the Orthodox autocephalous Churches. The Church of Antioch affirms the necessity to resort to the principle of unanimity concerning the common Orthodox work and the stand on controversial issues in the Orthodox world, and this unanimity is a true safeguard for Orthodox Unity.
“The Church of Antioch warns of the dangers of implicating the Orthodox world in the international political conflicts and the resulting harms which come from approaching the Orthodox Church’s issues on the basis of politics, ethnicity, and nationalism.
“The Church of Antioch calls upon His All-Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch to call for an urgent synaxis for the primates of the Orthodox autocephalous Churches in order to discuss the current developments that the Orthodox world is facing about the issue of granting autocephaly to new Churches, and the efforts made to find common solutions before taking any final decisions about this issue.
“The Church of Antioch highlights the necessity of spiritual vigilance in this critical period of history, and the importance of preserving the peace and unity of the Church, and to be watchful in not falling into the trap of political entanglement which history has proved to cause the Orthodox Church a weakening of her united witness in the world.”
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