Nicosia, Cyprus, January 2, 2020
After hierarchs and Synods spent more than a year calling upon Patriarch Bartholomew, to no avail, to convene a pan-Orthodox council or Synaxis of Primates to seek a solution to the Ukrainian Church crisis, Patriarch Theophilos of Jerusalem stepped up and invited his brother primates to a Synaxis in Jordan in February.
He first announced his initiative to hold a Synaxis of Primates while visiting Moscow in November, and invitations have since been sent to the primates of the Local Churches.
The Holy Synods of the Church of the Czech Lands and Slovakia and of the Russian Orthodox Church have officially supported this initiative. Patriarch John of Antioch received his invitation personally from Metropolitan Christophoros of Amman of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem. The Patriarchate’s official statement acknowledged receipt of the invitation and reiterated the need for a council to resolve the Ukrainian issue, though without responding directly to Jerusalem’s invitation.
On the other hand, 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, and now Archbishop Chrysostomos of Cyprus has joined him, stating that Pat. Theophilos’ invitation is not serious, because such a Synaxis can only be called by the Patriarch of Constantinople, though neither Greek archbishop cited the canons that grant such a privilege to Constantinople alone.
Though Abp. Chrysostomos himself and the Cypriot Holy Synod have acknowledged the need for a pan-Orthodox council, the Cypriot primate told Romfea that he won’t even respond to the Patriarch of Jerusalem’s invitation.
“I considered it prudent not to reply,” he said. “I don’t consider this a serious step. I haven’t examined it since I received this question from my friend the Patriarch,” the Archbishop commented.
“Only the Ecumenical Patriarch, no one else,” has the right to convene such a council, Abp. Chrysostomos is sure. Recall that Pat. Bartholomew has already explicitly refused to convene a council to consider the Ukrainian issue, telling Pat John of Antioch in a letter that given that four Local Churches did not attend the Crete Council in 2016, there is no reason to seek conciliarity now.
Just a few days before Pat. Theophilos announced his invitation, Archbishop Anastasios of Albania also issued a statement stressing the urgent need for a council to address the Ukrainian issue, though he also stated that it should be convened by Pat. Bartholomew. Thus, it remains to be seen how he will respond to Pat. Theophilos’ invitation.