Antiochian Church not sending any representatives to fraternal gathering in Jordan

Balamand, Lebanon February 24, 2020     

Neither His Beatitude Patriarch John X of Antioch nor any other hierarchs of the Antiochian Patriarchate will attend the upcoming fraternal gathering in Amman, Jordan, according to a statement issued by the Antiochian Orthodox Media Center on Friday, February 22.

The Antiochian Church is the last of the invited Churches to publicly respond to the invitation from His Beatitude Patriarch Theophilos III of Jerusalem.

Barring the unlikely event that any Churches will change their minds at the last minute, 6 Churches will be represented: Jerusalem, Moscow, Serbia, Romania, Poland, and Czech-Slovak, and 8 will not be represented: Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, Cyprus, Georgia, Bulgaria, Greece, and Albania.

The Orthodox Church in America was not invited as its autocephaly is not recognized by several Local Churches, including the Jerusalem Patriarchate.

While certain outlets in various languages and from various perspectives had assumed the Antiochian Church would be represented, its attendance was always unlikely and there was never any real consideration given to the Patriarch himself attending.

On Thursday, February 21, the Jerusalem Patriarchate issued a prematurely optimistic statement declaring that “concrete understandings have been reached with Antioch for a resolution to [the] matter” of the Qatar territorial dispute. The statement gave the impression that Pat. John would thus attend the fraternal gathering in Amman.

The Antiochian Patriarchate broke communion with the Jerusalem Patriarchate in 2014 after the latter consecrated a bishop for Qatar, which the Antiochian Church counts as its canonical territory.

Sources close to the Antiochian Church informed OrthoChristian that while there have been discussions on the matter since the two primates met in Cyprus in April, there have been no concrete resolutions.

In fact, the Jerusalem Patriarchate issued its statement after it was already aware of the Antiochian Church’s decision not to attend. The Jerusalem statement is being interpreted as an attempt to pressure Pat. John into attending, by claiming that the Qatar issue was no longer a serious obstacle in relations between the two Churches.

However, the statement from the Antiochian Church demonstrates that it has its own concerns and its own mind on the current problems of Church unity, which neither the Greek nor Russian side seem to have taken into account.

The Antiochian statement reads in full:

Following the generous invitation of His Beatitude Patriarch Theophilos III of Jerusalem to His Beatitude Patriarch John X of Antioch, to participate in a consultative meeting of Church leaders in Amman, Jordan, on the twenty-fifth of this month, the Antiochian Church declares that She will not participate in this meeting.

The Church of Antioch acknowledges the concern of the Orthodox Churches’ Primates and their initiatives to what could contribute to finding solutions for the grave crisis that the Orthodox Church is witnessing today. However, She has decided not to participate in this meeting, based on the information that has been provided, and for Her care to avoid whatever increases divergence and deepens the rift between brothers. Her position does not mean that She is not eager to expedite necessary solutions for the reasons that led to the severance of communion between the Church of Antioch and the Church of Jerusalem, even after the Church of Antioch has showed readiness for everything that facilitates these solutions.

On this occasion, the Church of Antioch reiterates Her firm position that the "unanimous consensus" between the Churches, based on the Holy Scripture and the Holy Tradition, is the essential rule in the Orthodox Church, with regards to general decisions on the universal Orthodox level, as well as in resolving outstanding issues. She also affirms Her endeavor, through the continuous communication with the Churches, to what yields an atmosphere of love and to a return to the mutual consultation and unanimity between the brothers, in order for Her to be faithful to the mission of joy, peace, and unity that the Lord wants from His Church.

The Church of Antioch calls upon all of Her children to join together in prayer and work for peace in the Church and the whole world.

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Peter 2/25/2020 8:36 pm
I am extremely disappointed in my Patriarch. To think he did not attend because of Qatar. The problems that the Church is facing right now is bigger than Qatar and brotherly humility is needed to overcome this. Non attendance is not an option. I pray that after the synaxis in Jordan that Antioch, Georgia, Bulgaria ratify the outcomes after the fact and pave the way for a legitimate council
Ephraim2/25/2020 4:08 am
As a Christian from the Middle East, I would like to apologize to my Russian brothers and sisters in Christ! Please please forgive the Church of Antioch and pray for her. You were the only ones to help us when the whole world watched us being slaughtered by ISIS, and while P. Bartholomew was completely silent, and now we repay your love and kindness with a Judas like kiss! Please forgive us and please forgive the Patriarch of Antioch. Truly we are in the end times. May God have mercy on our souls and take all cowardice from us. God forgive our Patriarchs, and may God raise up true Patriarchs and Bishops in the Church once again. I am very disappointed and disgusted with Antioch and the apathy in the Church. God forgive Georgia, Bulgaria, Poland and all the others who are doing nothing to save my brothers and sisters in Ukraine. God bless and protect you my brothers. I love you, and my heart aches for you. May God help you and deliver you from the wicked pretender clergymen that fight you.
Gary Cox2/24/2020 7:52 pm
Theo my brother, like you I am a convert and like you I am ashamed. But we made the right move to the Orthodox Church. We don't need to be disheartened to the point of giving up the faith. Jesus, the apostles and the fathers warned us of a general falling away from the Church. I guess I didn't think it would happen in my lifetime.If the Church has a split, and that does look probable then we need to be sure we stay with what is true and right. There was a horrible split in 1054 and if it happens again then it will be a purifying of the wrongness that has crept into the Church. The true Church may be smaller in numbers but true to the faith. We have to remain strong and if we have to move from one jurisdiction to another then so be it.
Theodoros 12/24/2020 7:37 pm
The following is in response to barthomew victor. As a proud Greek I am embarrassed by you and Bartholomew. Perhaps you have missed bartholomews constant reference to the Greek "Genos" etc and "our people" implying that Greeks Rule over the non Greeks. These are ugly and hideous comments that devout Greeks should condemn. It is ironic that bartholomew now plays the Spokesman for Greeks considering his referring to Turkey as "our country" over the years and giving his Blessing to the Turkish army two years ago. In 28 years this patriarch has never spoken a word About Cyprus or Turkish aggression against Greece. I too have a sentimentality for the city of Constantinople but Christ and the dogmas of our Faith come first. The hunger for power that the phanar Pursues had created chaos throughout orthodoxy. The persecution of the canonical church in Ukraine Is appalling and the role that patriarch bartholomew Had played in this is truly disturbing. Greeks must Start to see things as they really are and to stop Listening to the anti Russian racism of Washington. As a Greek I am angered by the us domination of Greece politically. This political influence over Greece Had extended into the life of the church of greece. I Support those bishops, priests, and faithful in greece Who stand for the faith above all. Standing for the Gospel now necessitates opposing patriarch Bartholomew and archbishop ieronymos.
m. Cornelia2/24/2020 6:11 pm
Joseph L: There have been many attempts to "dialogue" with the OCU but you can't have a dialogue with someone who does not want to listen to you at all. That is why people go into schism--demonic pride and not wanting to listen. Not wanting to be "as one who serves and not as the one who sits at table".
Theo2/24/2020 6:08 pm
I am Antiochian, a convert to Orthodoxy, and I am extremely ashamed by this pettiness and lack of leadership. They are WEAK. Frankly I'm beginning to think the Orthodox world is no better than the Catholic world I left. Easy divorce and remarriage, birth control everywhere, gay unions proposed in public by the Greek Bishop Ware and the Antiochian Fr. Aaron Warwick (and he remains PASTOR of his parish, that's on YOU, Bishop Basil!), open communion for non-Orthodox spouses apparently okay with the Greek Abp. Elpidophorous - this is all scandalous, and I'm beginning wonder if I made the right move by becoming Orthodox. These weaklings make the very word "ORTHODOX" a joke!
Alexander Leitner2/24/2020 2:05 pm
They all do not care about the Holy Church of Christ...horrible. What a shame!
Theodoros2/24/2020 1:22 pm
A sound decision by the Patriarch of Antioch. Noting "She has decided not to participate in this meeting, based on the information that has been provided, and for Her care to avoid whatever increases divergence and deepens the rift between brothers". There should be opportunities later for some sort of a consensus to be reached but this gathering was never going to achieve it.
Bartholomaious Victor!2/24/2020 9:41 am
My name said it best. So here we are, the end of the road. You wonder why you failed?? Two years, for two I have been following this, for two years I saw nothing but demonizing, slander and hate towards Constantinople, the Ecumenical Patriarchate, and racism towards us Greeks. The culmination of this was an attempt by Moscow to discredit the validity of Constantinople as the mother Church and if possible to dissolve it. This was the intention of the pseudo-council in Amman, and when the agenda failed to gain initiative they switched to "fraternal gathering", the agenda remained the same however. Attempting to get the Ecumenical to be put on trial and stripped of his rights and if that failed get enough of the Orthodox hierarchy to agree to some sort of action against him and the mother Church.. with promises of greater autonomy of course. All this after the Ecumenical canonically stripped the Ukraine from Moscow, years after gross mismanagement, error and ethnic hostility created by Moscow herself. Your methods have failed and they revealed that no matter how much power you yield as a Church you will always remain a fifth rate Patriarchy in the order of the Church. Only Jerusalem is now left, she should save face by canceling this pseudo-council. Now that your crusade against Constantinople ended in failure have now three options. 1) Recognize the OCU and reach a compromise. 2) Settle in sharing the Ukraine with the OCU and stay in your canonical limits (I mean Georgia, America and Africa). 3) Break away, become a schism and take the insufferable Serbs along with you. You lost the battle the moment you turned a Constantinople-Moscow power struggle into ethnic hate and division within the Church.. Or do you think we Greeks will forget all the things you wrote against us? All the slander, all the accusations of "ethnophyletism", "schism" and "heresy" you propped up against during the last two years? No. We want justice. You attacked our ethnic heritage to stroke division and make impressions and we will not let you off the hook so easily. There will never be unity with the likes of you henceforth. You, have placed your own selves in the long black list of our ethnic enemies right along with the Turks and the Papists. Ironically, ten years ago some foresaw this but the vast majority (sheep that they are) thought the Russians as their brothers. Now, you have made enemies even out of many of your former friends. I suppose congratulations are due, way to lose yet more of your friends. Your foreign policy was always sloppy, no wonder you lose.
Gary Cox2/24/2020 8:16 am
The Patriarchs can't come together to try to solve a SERIOUS problem in the Church. Are they afraid of Constantinople? Are they just indifferent to the problem of Constantinople's power grab? Do they not have the guts to stand up for the Church? The Patriarchs of old did! And we get spineless patriarchs? Do the patriarchs think that this won't affect their membership? If members leave and money contributions drop, will that get their attention? A numerically smaller but truer Church is what we will have. May God's will be done!
Joseph Lipper2/24/2020 7:36 am
How can anyone discuss the problem in Ukraine without also inviting the relevant parties in Ukraine? This meeting in Jordan claims that it is not an official council of the Orthodox Church, and there are also no plans for Divine Liturgy. No communion necessary. It should be the perfect opportunity for dialogue between Patriarch Kyrill, Metropolitan Onufrey and the OCU. Unfortunately the OCU is not invited. So what is the point of this meeting anyways?
Mikhail2/24/2020 4:40 am
Antioch knows full well what it's like to be a Church suffering persecution. And yet She can not humble herself for a three day meeting to help another suffering Church (UOC) with the possibility of solving some of the animosity between Herself and Jerusalem. How very sad.
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