Rumors of “back room deals” during Constantinople-OCA concelebration unfounded, sources say

Dereyamanli, Cappadocia, Turkey June 25, 2019

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His Beatitude Metropolitan Tikhon of All America and Canada of the Orthodox Church in America was the guest of Patriarch Bartholomew in Turkey over the weekend, concelebrating with him in Cappadocia on the Sunday of All Saints.

Met. Tikhon and an OCA delegation were invited by Pat. Bartholomew to participate in an annual pilgrimage to Cappadocia along with a 3-day pilgrimage to the Patriarchate of Constantinople, reports the press service of the Orthodox Church in America.

Cappadocia is an area rich in Church history, and the OCA delegation had the chance to visit the region’s ancient cave churches and monasteries during their trip, as well as churches that were closed following the population exchange of 1922.

Reflecting upon his visit to the ancient churches, Met. Tikhon remarked following the Divine Liturgy:

When I travel abroad, I normally bring the prayers and greetings of the faithful of North America to the place where I am travelling. But after these days, when I have had the honor of walking—at the invitation of Your All-Holiness—in the lands of Cappadocia, I feel that it is rather I who am receiving, on behalf of North Americans, the prayers and embrace of the martyric witness which resound from the deserted caves and the ruins of church temples around us.

Because of his visit to Turkey, Met. Tikhon was unable to attend the enthronement of Archbishop Elpidophoros as the head of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America in New York on Saturday. Given the timing of his trip, and the OCA’s statements in recent months concerning the ongoing Ukrainian crisis, rumors of pressure upon Met. Tikhon and “back room deals” began circulating quickly.

However, sources familiar with the events of the trip have informed OrthoChristian that it was a goodwill visit, aimed at the two primates getting to know one another better, and that no serious discussions about current Orthodox events were held. Pat. Bartholomew is aware of the OCA’s position of not recognizing the so-called “Orthodox Church of Ukraine,” calling instead for a pan-Orthodox council to deal with the matter, and he understands that the bishops of the OCA do not intend to move from this position.

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