Athens, November 22, 2019
Yesterday, His Beatitude Patriarch Theophilos of Jerusalem called his brother primates to come together in a Synaxis of the Primates in Jordan to seek resolutions to the current problems of Church unity.
The invitation came during his acceptance speech at annual award ceremony for the Patriarch Alexei II Prizes of the International Public Foundation for the Unity of Orthodox Christian Peoples:
We would like to host, in our home as the Patriarchate of Jerusalem, our brothers, the primates of the Orthodox Church, to gather in the spirit of fellowship—koinonia—so that counsel will be taken together for the preservation of our unity in Eucharistic communion. The unity of the Church in faith and life is a gift of the Holy Spirit, but it is our God-given responsibility—as those to whom the ministry of our Churches, being the mystical body of Christ, has been entrusted—to guard the unity of the Church, even to the point of undergoing sacrifice. We have no choice before God but to commit every effort to defend our unity.
We take this opportunity, therefore, to declare open our home in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, for hosting this “fraternal gathering in love” so that together we may be a witness to the Church and to the world of the unity of the Orthodox Church and our Orthodox faith.
However, Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens , the President of the Holy Synod of the Church of Greece, who was the first primate to recognize the schismatic “Orthodox Church of Ukraine” after Patriarch Bartholomew, told journalists that he will not attend any such Synaxis, reports the Orthodoxia News Agency.
“Not everyone can call a pan-Orthodox council. It is the prerogative of the Ecumenical Patriarch. If the Ecumenical Patriarch calls us we will not say no; if anyone in charge of any other Church calls us I will say no,” the Archbishop explained.
Conversely, the Russian Orthodox Church received the Patriarch’s initiative to preserve Church unity quite favorably.
“His Beatitude Patriarch Theophilos of Jerusalem took the initiative to invite the primates of the Orthodox Churches to Jordan to discuss together the preservation of Church unity. In the context of the ongoing crisis in inter-Orthodox relations, which, unfortunately, is only getting worse, this proposal seems very timely, and we welcome it in every possible way,” Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, the Chairman of the Synodal Department for External Church Relations told Interfax-Religion today.
Abp. Ieronymos also met with Geoffrey Pyatt, the American Ambassador to Greece, today, who noted that the Ukrainian issue is a hot topic in the American capital as of late.
Ambassador Pyatt, who is known to have played a leading role in the 2014 Maidan in Kiev when he was Ambassador to Ukraine, and who pressured several Greek bishops to recognize the schismatic OCU, also gave Abp. Ieronymos a letter from U.S. Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom Samuel Brownback, in which he expressed his respect for the Archbishop’s decision to recognize the OCU.