Damascus, January 10, 2019
On January 6, OrthoChristian reported that His Beatitude Patriarch John X of Antioch and All the East had responded to Patriarch Bartholomew’s request to recognize the results of December 15’s “unification council” and the nationalist Ukrainian church created there.
His Beatitude urged Pat. Bartholomew to stop the process of granting autocephaly until a pan-Orthodox solution could be found to the Ukrainian crisis. In his response, Pat. John emphasized that the events surrounding the creation of the new church cause concern not only because of the disunion they create in the Orthodox world, but also because the opinion of the Local Orthodox Churches was not taken into account by Constantinople.
On January 9, the full text of Pat. John’s letter was published in English on the site of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America:
Damascus, 31 December 2018
Your All-Holiness, Archbishop of Constantinople-New Rome and Ecumenical Patriarch, beloved brother and concelebrant in Christ the Lord, Kyrios Kyrios Bartholomew. With great joy, we embrace Your Beloved person in the Lord and we say,
In these blessed days of the Holy Incarnation of our Lord, we lift up our warmest supplications for the abundance of your good health and deep prosperity. May this upcoming year bring forth God's mercies and blessings on the Orthodox world and all the world.
We are in receipt of your letter dated December 24th, 2018, in which you inform us of the developments related to the Orthodox church in the State of Ukraine, with which we are familiar. We do not hide from Your Loving Person that it was alarming to us, not just for the disunity it has generated in the Orthodox Church, but also because it continuously disregards the opinions of the local Orthodox Churches.
We would like to assure you, and out of our love for your noble person, that it is our desire to see the unity of the Orthodox world strengthened and consolidated during your auspicious era. It seems from your letter that you have resolved to continue the process of granting autocephaly and finalizing it on the day of the Holy Theophany. Thus, we appeal to you not to take any decision that does not carry the consensus of the Autocephalous Orthodox Churches. For it is unreasonable to end a schism at the expense of the unity of the Orthodox world.
In this letter, we wish to express to you, with fraternal love, that we continue to consider that the most beneficial for the peace of the Church and Her unity, and for the common Orthodox witness in our world today, is to suspend and postpone this process until the Ukrainian issue is examined, and a pan-Orthodox solution is found.
We therefore adjure Your All-Holiness to call your brothers, the Primates of the Orthodox Churches, to examine these matters, in order to safeguard our Church from the dangers that will not lead to peace and harmony, neither in Ukraine nor in the Orthodox world.
Our love for our Orthodox Church and for your Beloved Person prompts us to write these words, with our hope to see the Orthodox world united, especially in your auspicious era, attesting to the Truth of our Lord Jesus Who was incarnate for the salvation of the world. I conclude with the best greetings from Damascus, filled with the love of the Holy Church of Antioch's children.
Patriarch of Antioch and all the East
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