Primates of 4 ancient autocephalous Churches meet to discuss Ukrainian issue

Cyprus, April 18, 2019
Updated 4/18/2019, 10:20 PM

Patriarch John of Antioch (left), Archbishop Chrysostomos of Cyprus (center), Patriarch Theodoros of Alexandria (right). Photo: Romfea Patriarch John of Antioch (left), Archbishop Chrysostomos of Cyprus (center), Patriarch Theodoros of Alexandria (right). Photo: Romfea     

The Patriarchate of Constantinople’s creation of a new ecclesiastical structure in Ukraine in December-January continues to be the most burning issue facing the universal Orthodox Church today, and today it brought together the primates of four of the Church’s five ancient autocephalous Churches.

His Beatitude Patriarch John of Antioch, His Beatitude Patriarch Theodoros of Alexandria, His Beatitude Patriarch Theophilos of Jerusalem, and His Beatitude Archbishop Chrysostomos of Cyprus gathered in Cyprus to discuss the issue at the invitation of Abp. Chrysostomos, report and Romfea.

The meeting has been in the works for several weeks. The primates initially considered meeting a few weeks ago, but Pat. Theophilos was not able to attend at that time. There is a possibility that the four primates will issue a joint statement on the Ukrainian issue.

Their meeting is of especial interest given that the Holy Synods of Alexandria and Jerusalem have thus far made no statements at all regarding Ukraine. Those of Antioch (and Pat. John personally) and Cyprus have expressed strong reservations about the whole episode and have called for a pan-Orthodox council to be convened to deal with the issue, though Patriarch Bartholomew has explicitly rejected the repeated calls for a conciliar solution.

Though the Holy Synod of the Alexandrian Church has made no official statement or decision regarding Ukraine, Pat. Theodoros has made his personal position quite clear. During a visit to Poland in September, he issued a joint statement with His Beatitude Metropolitan Sawa, calling for everything possible to be done to bring the conflict to an end. From there he went to Ukraine to visit the suffering faithful of the canonical Church and to encourage them to remain faithful to the holy Orthodox Church, headed by His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine.

Likewise, Pat. Theophilos of Jerusalem has made many statements over the years in support of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church under Met. Onuphry, and he has met with delegations from the canonical Church several times lately while refusing to meet or serve with representatives from the schismatic so-called “Orthodox Church of Ukraine.” It was also recently reported that the Church of Jerusalem has begun strictly checking the documents of all clergy visiting from Ukraine to ensure that they are members of the canonical Church before allowing them to serve in the Holy Land.

It is also significant that Pat. John of Antioch and Pat. Theophilos of Jerusalem are coming together voluntarily to cooperate on a Church matter, giving that the patriarchates have been out of communion with one another since 2013.

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