Patriarch of Jerusalem had agreed to meet with Poroshenko only if no schismatics were present

Jerusalem, January 22, 2019

Photo: East News Photo: East News

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko’s planned meeting with His Beatitude Patriarch Theophilos III of Jerusalem was canceled yesterday due to the Patriarch’s health according to a source in the Ukrainian delegation, as OrthoChristian reported.

Further information from within the Jerusalem Patriarchate also indicates that the Patriarch had only agreed to meet with the President in the first place under the condition that no representatives from the Ukrainian schismatic structure were present at the meeting.

The Ukrainian head of state ended up meeting with the Deputy Head and General Secretary of the Jerusalem Patriarchate, His Eminence Archbishop Aristarchos of Constantina, instead, reports Interfax-Ukraine.

“The President conveyed all his messages to Patriarch Theophilos III of Jerusalem through his Deputy Head, the General Secretary of the Jerusalem Patriarchate, Archbishop Aristarchos, and received support from the Jerusalem Church,” a source in the Ukrainian delegation told Interfax, though it is unclear what is meant by “support.”

The source also reported that Abp. Aristarchos accompanied the President to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

According to another source close to high-ranking hierarchs within the Jerusalem Patriarch, the Ukrainian site Vesti also reports that the Patriarch had placed conditions upon the initially-planned meeting with Poroshenko: that nobody from the schismatic “Orthodox Church of Ukraine” be present at the meeting.

As OrthoChristian has reported, the Patriarch has been under heavy pressure from the Patriarchate of Constantinople and the states of Israel and America to recognize and serve with the new Ukrainian schismatic church created by Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople and Poroshenko, though he did not serve with any schismatic representatives on the feast of Theophany as they had hoped.

“Obviously such stipulations indicate that the main point of the President of Ukraine’s trip to Israel was precisely an attempt to lobby for the recognition of the OCU [“Orthodox Church of Ukraine”—O.C.] from at least one Local Church. At this stage, the Patriarchate of Jerusalem is the only one of the four so-called ancient Churches that has no expressed its attitude to this issue,” the source said.

As the creator of the new schismatic church, Constantinople, of course, fully supports it. The Antiochian Church has repeatedly taken issue with Constantinople’s unilateral actions and called for a pan-Orthodox council to solve the Ukrainian crisis, and has rejected Constantinople’s request to recognize the new Ukrainian structure. The Patriarch of Alexandria, His Beatitude Theodoros II, has clearly expressed his support for the position of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church and the Russian Orthodox Church, though the Holy Synod of Alexandria made no statement after discussing Ukraine at its latest session.

“Such a refusal from the meeting is in fact a bad sign in the negotiation process. As far as we know, there’s a discussion now in the Jerusalem Patriarchate about this issue and the Patriarch’s refusal to meet with the President of Ukraine could influence the course of the discussion on this topic,” the source told Vesti.

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