Athens, May 7, 2019
Two American ambassadors already known as backers of the Patriarchate of Constantinople’s canonical invasion of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church met with His Beatitude Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens and All Greece yesterday, reports Romfea.
U.S. Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom Samuel Brownback and U.S. Ambassador to Greece Geoffrey Pyatt, along with Riley Barnes from the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, and religious attaché Pauletta Walsh, discussed matters of mutual interest with the Greek primate, including the burning Ukrainian question.
Their visit comes as hierarchs and other Church representatives have already reported that there is great pressure on the Greek Church from political, economic, and diplomatic fields to recognize the schismatic church created by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and Patriarch Bartholomew on December 15, which Pat. Bartholomew gave a tomos of autocephaly on January 6.
The Greek Church has yet to voice an official position on the matter.
Pyatt tweeted about the arrival of Brownback, noting that the purpose of his visit is specifically to reaffirm the U.S.’s support for Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople:
Honored to welcome @IRF_Ambassador Sam Brownback to Greece for meetings with Greece’s diverse religious communities and a trip to Mt. #Athos, where he will reaffirm strong US support for His All Holiness @EcuPatriarch and his commitment to religious freedom and tolerance. https://t.co/Kr4tYvOeuO— Geoffrey Pyatt (@USAmbPyatt) May 6, 2019
During the meeting, Abp. Ieronymos informed the ambassadors of the Greek Church’s view on the matter, noting that the hierarchy would take up the matter in the near future.
Brownback met with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in September, pledging America’s continued support for the struggle for an autocephalous Church that was launched by Ukrainian politicians and schismatics. In turn, Pyatt has met with several important religious figures in the Greek Orthodox sphere, including Pat. Bartholomew, His Eminence Metropolitan Hierotheos (Vlachos), and Abbot Ephraim of Vatopaidi Monastery on Mt. Athos. Previously serving as the U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, Pyatt was instrumental in organizing the Maidan revolution.
He has been described as a “Russian hate figure,” and has openly accused the Russian Church of attempting to undermine the role of the Patriarch of Constantinople and it is widely believed that he pressured Athonite abbots, Abbot Ephraim in particular, to cease their cooperation with the Russian Church.
Mr. Brownback is expected to be received by abbots on Mt. Athos today as well as the civil administrator Konstantinos Dimtsas. The Ukrainian issue has been especially hot on Mt Athos lately, where there is disagreement about how to approach the Ukrainian schismatics, with a minority of abbots and monasteries accepting them but the majority acknowledging them as schismatics without the grace of ordination.
The Holy Mountain has unfortunately become a political tool in Constantinople’s campaign for the Church to recognize the Ukrainian schismatics. Two delegations from the schismatic-nationalist church were sent there to try to visit as many monasteries as possible before the Mountain’s governing body, the Sacred Community, was even able to come to a decision about its attitude towards the group, thus forcing through several concelebrations with the schismatic church.
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