Athens, January 13, 2020
During the session of the Holy Synod of the Greek Orthodox Church, held from January 8 to 10, the President of the Greek Synod, Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens, officially rejected the invitation of His Beatitude Patriarch Theophilos to Jerusalem for the primates to gather in Jordan to discuss issues of Church unity against the backdrop of the Ukrainian Church crisis.
Abp. Ieronymos noted that he would not attend the proposed Synaxis of Primates because the convening of such an event “is the privilege of the Patriarch of Constantinople,” reports Romfea.
The Archbishop earlier stated the same conviction the day after Pat. Theophilos announced his initiative in November.
“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 at that time.
Similarly, Archbishop Chrysostomos of Cyprus earlier stated he would not even respond to the invitation from Pat. Theophilos for the same reason, believing that only Constantinople can convene a council or a Synaxis of Primates.
In this, the Greek primates are following the line coming out of Constantinople. Preaching on January 5, Patriarch Bartholomew called the initiative of the Patriarch of Jerusalem “non-canonical,” though he did not note which canons he had in mind.
According to Episkepsis, the journal of the Orthodox Center of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the tomos of autocephaly granted to the Greek Church by Constantinople in 1850 established the Archbishop of Athens not as the primate of an autocephalous Church, but as the President of the Holy Synod, with the Synod as the supreme ecclesiastical authority.
Meanwhile, the Holy Synods of the Czech-Slovak and Russian Churches have officially supported Pat. Theophilos’ initiative.