Alexandria, November 20, 2019
In a press release and a letter to his brother bishops in the Patriarchate of Alexandria on November 8, Patriarch Theodoros of Alexandria explained that he made the decision to commemorate Epiphany Dumenko, the primate of the schismatic “Orthodox Church of Ukraine,” that day after prayer and discussion with the bishops.
In the press release he highlighted the fact that the Orthodox Church functions through a conciliar system, while in the letter to the bishops he noted that the decision was his alone, though he made it after discussing with the bishops.
No Synodal vote was taken on the matter in the Church of Alexandria. There are at least a few hierarchs in the Patriarchate who disagree with recognizing the schismatics, OrthoChristian was informed by one such hierarch.
And, as Pat. Theodoros recently told tovima.gr, in addition to prayer and discussion with the bishops, the decision was made “out of respect for the Ecumenical Patriarchate and its history.”
The hierarchs of the Greek Church who support Constantinople’s invasion of Ukrainian Church territory offered the same reasoning. Metropolitan Ignatius of Dimitriados, the chairman of the Synodal commission on Orthodox and inter-Christian relations, told the gathered hierarchs on October 12: “We should never engage in conflict with the Ecumenical Patriarchate on the Ukrainian issue, because that would result in our own division, our own post-problematic relationship with the Ecumenical Patriarchate. Why would we do that?”
Metropolitan Pavlos of Drama argued that the hierarchs must agree with Constantinople. “Will we reject the most sacred institution of the nation?” he asked.
“We cannot tolerate the Ecumenical Patriarchate being referred to as simply a ‘Patriarchate’. We have to get serious,” said Metropolitan Ierissos of Theoklitos.
It is also known that the Patriarchate of Alexandria is heavily dependent upon the Greek Foreign Ministry for its existence and that the Patriarchate was under pressure from the Greek state to recognize the schismatics.
Pat. Theodoros has not yet offered any dogmatic or canonical arguments in favor of his decision, but emphasized that he “had to show that he is a real Patriarch who understands the seriousness of the problems and tries to find a solution.”