Damascus, December 30, 2019
His Beatitude Patriarch Theophilos of Jerusalem has invited His Beatitude Patriarch John of Antioch to attend the proposed Synaxis of Primates in Jordan to resolve the ongoing Ukrainian Church crisis.
Pat. John received His Eminence Metropolitan Christophoros of Amman of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem at the Patriarchate in Damascus on December 28, where the latter delivered a message from the Patriarch of Jerusalem regarding the council in Jordan. The goal is to preserve the Orthodox unity “broken by the Ukrainian crisis,” reports the press service of the Antiochian Patriarchate.
“In this regard, Patriarch John X reaffirmed the firm position of the Antiochian Church announced by the Holy Antiochian Synod,” which called for a Synaxis of Primates of the Local Orthodox Churches, “so that all Orthodox Churches [would] collaborate in solving Orthodox issues.”
The Synod made this call in October of 2018. In January, responding to Patriarch Bartholomew’s request to recognize the results of last December’s “unification council” and the nationalist Ukrainian church created there, Pat. John urged Pat. Bartholomew to stop the process of granting autocephaly until a pan-Orthodox solution could be found to the Ukrainian crisis. Pat. Bartholomew explicitly refused to call such a council, noting that the Antiochian Church had not attended the Council of Crete in the summer of 2016.
Pat. Theophilos of Jerusalem announced his initiative to hold a Synaxis of Primates in Jordan in February while visiting Moscow in November. The Holy Synods of the Church of the Czech Lands and Slovakia and of the Russian Orthodox Church have officially supported this initiative, while Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens, who is in communion with the Ukrainian schismatics, announced that he will not participate in the effort to restore Church unity because it was not initiated by Pat. Bartholomew.
The Churches of Antioch and Jerusalem have been out of communion with one another since 2014, after the Patriarchate of Jerusalem consecrated and appointed a Metropolitan for Qatar, “whose territory belongs to the jurisdiction of the Church of Antioch as a base unit of the Archdiocese of Baghdad, Kuwait and the Arabian Peninsula.”
Patriarchs John and Theophilos came to a preliminary agreement on the matter when the primates of the Churches of Alexandria, Antioch, Jerusalem, and Cyprus met on Cyprus in April, though nothing came of it in the end, apart from some thaw in their respective Churches’ attitudes to one another.
At present, Pat. John does not commemorate Pat. Theophilos in the Divine services, though Pat. Theophilos commemorates Pat. John.