Athens, July 10, 2019
At its January session, the Holy Synod of the Greek Orthodox Church resolved to entrust the issue of the ongoing Ukrainian crisis to the broader Bishops’ Council, consisting of every bishop of the Greek Church, and in March it created two Synodal commissions to study the issue in-depth from various angles and pass their recommendations onto the episcopate.
Last month, it was reported that both commissions will recommend recognizing both the canonicity and autocephaly of the so-called “Orthodox Church of Ukraine” (OCU), created by the Patriarchate of Constantinople and the Ukrainian government in December.
The next session of the Bishops’ Council of the Greek Orthodox Church is scheduled to be held in October, and although the Synodal commissions have completed their work, the Ukrainian issue is not, in fact, on the agenda, according to information from the Greek outlet Romfea.
The session will be held from October 8 to 11, under the chairmanship of His Beatitude Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens and All Greece. The hierarchs intend to deal with a number of internal issues, including the low birth rate in the country, youth unemployment, the problem of starting new families, the problem of one-parent families, and the issue of same-sex couples.
The place of digital technology in society and the mission of the Church and the challenges of artificial intelligence as well as personnel issues will also be discussed.
It is not reported why the bishops have postponed the discussion, though it could be due to the initiative of His Beatitude Archbishop Chrysostomos of Cyprus to meet with the primates of the Local Churches to try to build a consensus on how to move forward. The Cypriot primate met with the Patriarchs of Antioch, Alexandria, and Jerusalem in Cyprus, and later met individually with the primates of the Greek, Bulgarian, and Serbian Churches.
Following the meetings, asked whether he thought the Greek Church would be the first to recognize the schismatic OCU, Abp. Chrysostomos underlined that “a unilateral decision would not be helpful, and the result would be what I feared. I also could have made a decision in favor of one or another, but I find this to be wrong. That’s why we did not do it.”
Archpriest Nikolai Danilevich, the Deputy Head of the Department for External Church Relations of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, also commented that he believes the Greek bishops made the right decision in postponing the discussion of the issue.
“It’s correct. The vast majority of the hierarchs of the GOC are against the recognition of the ‘OCU.’ Individuals are not so much for recognition as much as they are for supporting the Phanar. Thus, this issue could provoke a division within the GOC, and Abp. Ieronymos understands this,” Fr. Nikolai wrote on his Facebook page.
“Indeed, why contribute to solving the Phanar’s problem, which it itself created, at the cost of creating problems in its Church? Thus, even the Greek Church, upon which the enemies of the unity of the Church of Christ placed their hope, does not recognize the schism, that is, the ‘OCU,’” Fr. Nikolai explained.
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