Hierarchs: No more unilateral actions, we need pan-Orthodox council

Albania, Cyprus, Greece, January 17, 2022

Photo: vimaorthodoxias.gr Photo: vimaorthodoxias.gr     

A number of hierarchs from several Local Churches have responded to last month’s decision by the Russian Holy Synod to create an African Exarchate on the territory of the Patriarchate of Alexandria.

Several of the hierarchs echo the same message: Unilateral actions harm the Church, and therefore we need to convene a pan-Orthodox Council as soon as possible to deal with the Ukrainian crisis and its unfortunate consequences.

Abp. Anastasios of Albania

On January 8, His Beatitude Archbishop Anastasios of Albania, who has refused to recognize the Ukrainian schismatics, issued a statement reminding that he has continually called for the Ukrainian crisis to be dealt with in council, because “ecclesiastical rifts and schisms aren’t healed by time. On the contrary, it deepens and hardens them.”

And, “The recent decision of the Moscow Patriarchate to establish an Exarchate on the African continent confirms the initial fears,” he writes. In addition to the schism in Ukraine, a schism is now beginning in Africa, he laments, which “weakens the Orthodox testimony.”

And while Constantinople and its supporters often claim that there is no schism in Orthodoxy today, Abp. Anastasios says that this akin to claiming there is no coronavirus. The schism is obvious, he says, and must be treated.

The Archbishop also republished his statement from November 2019, in which he warned that “a worrying silence prevails in most of the Orthodox Churches” concerning the Ukrainian crisis.

Met. Isaiah of Tamassos (Cypriot Church)

On January 6, His Eminence Metropolitan Isaiah of Tamassos, one of the most staunch opponents of recognition of the Ukrainian schismatics in the Cypriot Church, issued a statement emphasizing that the creation of a Russian Exarchate in Africa is “an obvious side-effect of the Ukrainian issue, which continues to evolve with unpredictable consequences.”

The Ukrainian crisis has greatly damaged trust between the Local Churches, he writes, and thus any such unilateral actions that aren’t dealt with in council “will inevitably damage ecclesiastical relations and balances between the Local Orthodox Churches.”

Met. Isaiah worries that more and more Orthodox countries will eschew dialogue when any problem arises and simply make their own unilateral decisions.

“Faced with this danger, a Synaxis of our primates is urgently needed,” Met. Isaiah insists. Such a gathering would be convened and presided over by Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, he states.

If the situation continues as is, “we will wind up turning our Churches into inward-looking religious formations of our countries’ foreign relations.”

Met. Seraphim of Piraeus (Greek Church)

In an interview with Vima Orthodoxias (English translation), His Eminence Metropolitan Seraphim of Piraeus reiterates his well-known stance that granting autocephaly to anathematized schismatics without their repentance or canonical restoration “is unfortunately leading Orthodoxy onto dangerous paths.”

The creation of the Russian Exarchate is based on the erroneous view that the Patriarchate of Alexandria has become schismatic by commemorating “Metropolitan” Epiphany Dumenko of the schismatic Ukrainian church, Met. Seraphim continues.

No primate or any Local Synod has the authority to declare anyone schismatic, His Eminence writes, but it must be done by a pan-Orthodox Council.

“Therefore, the action of the Russian Church is based on a false premise, because you cannot examine someone and judge him to be schismatic without the ruling and canonical penalty that can be imposed by the competent conciliar body.”

The request for such a council “has become more necessary than ever.” Like Abp. Anastasios of Albania and Met. Isaiah, Met. Seraphim calls upon Pat. Bartholomew to “transcend himself” and immediately convene a council.

According to Met. Seraphim, Pat. Bartholomew certainly has the right, “under the canonical conditions,” to grant autocephaly, but he granted it to the wrong people in Ukraine.

The hierarch of the Greek Church points to the example of “Patriarch” Philaret Denisenko, who after being embraced by the Patriarchate of Constantinople, has only continued the schismatic activities for which he was defrocked and anathematized in the first place, having recently received into his jurisdiction two Greek Old Calendarist “hierarchs.”

Met. Pavlos of Drama (Patriarchate of Constantinople)

In an interview with the National Herald, Metropolitan Pavlos of Drama commented that by creating an African Exarchate, the Russian Synod shows that it hasn’t learned the lesson of 1917.

“This is the revolutionary pan-Slavism of pre-revolutionary Russia which is coming back vengefully again, since they are doing this in an arrogant and very provocative way, relying on state authorities. It seems they didn’t learn their lesson with the divine ‘slap’ during the revolution of 1917,” the Metroplitan commented.

Patriarchate of Constantinople

On January 11, the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Constantinople issued a brief statement stating its support for the Patriarchate of Alexandria against the creation of a Russian Exarchate on its territory.

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See also
African diocese calls on clergy to renounce decision to join Russian Church African diocese calls on clergy to renounce decision to join Russian Church African diocese calls on clergy to renounce decision to join Russian Church African diocese calls on clergy to renounce decision to join Russian Church
Bishop Marcos of Kisumu and Western Kenya has sent a letter to the relevant priests from his diocese, calling on them to recant and pledge their loyalty to the Alexandrian Patriarchate. Remaining affiliated with the Russian African Exarchate “will endanger their priesthood,” he writes.
Patriarchate of Alexandria responds to creation of Russian Exarchate in Africa Patriarchate of Alexandria responds to creation of Russian Exarchate in Africa Patriarchate of Alexandria responds to creation of Russian Exarchate in Africa Patriarchate of Alexandria responds to creation of Russian Exarchate in Africa
The ancient Patriarchate of Alexandria expresses its deepest sorrow at the synodal decision of the Russian Patriarchate to establish an Exarchate within the normal limits of the jurisdiction of the Ancient Church of Alexandria, a decision taken in the midst of the Nativity of Christ and the divine Epiphany, during which Christ the King of Peace is projected.
Metropolitan Isaiah of Tamassos, on All Aspects of the Ukrainian Question Metropolitan Isaiah of Tamassos, on All Aspects of the Ukrainian Question
Met. Isaiah of Tamassos
Metropolitan Isaiah of Tamassos, on All Aspects of the Ukrainian Question Metropolitan Isaiah of Tamassos, on All Aspects of the Ukrainian Question
An Interview with His Eminence Metropolitan Isaiah of Tamassos and Orinis. Part 1
Metropolitan Isaiah (Kykkotis) of Tamassos
His Eminence Metropolitan Isaiah of Tamassos and Orinis gave an interview to the Romfea Church news agency, which we have translated into English in three parts, frankly answering all the questions about his position regarding the actions of Constantinople, the West, and Moscow, and also commenting on the behavior of the Archbishop of Cyprus.
Ben Poorthuis2/22/2022 5:57 pm
United we stand, divided we fall.
Isidora2/19/2022 12:52 am
Figures. When Constantinople barges into another Patriarch's turf it's no problem. But when Russia starts something to support Africa it's OMG we need to have a special council! Everyone knows Africa has to be run by a westernized Greek! This mess is 100% caused by wannabe Pope Bartholomew flapping his CIA funded wings.
Ben1/21/2022 12:47 am
This is a mess... Lord have mercy on us and help your people see the royal path, and walk it.
M. Cornelia1/20/2022 11:16 am
Dear Anthony: We thank you for your comments, so useful to us in cultivating the Christian virtue of humility. However we are wondering what makes you so diligent in sending comments that no one will ever post, and if you yourself are a Christian.
sherlock_holmes1/18/2022 9:23 pm
Metropolitan Pavlos of Drama & Tantrum...Until some churches free themselves from the influence of the Pharaoh (woke USA & ecumenism ) , hard to believe good outcome will prevail before the global event.
m. Cornelia1/18/2022 1:26 pm
Steve, we have talked with various non-Greek missionaries to Africa, and from their words the picture is clear. Hopefully there will be more about this on this site. But one thing is for sure: They are not making this move out of support for pan-Slavism. Does that even need to be said? It feels ridiculous to even about it.
Momcilo1/18/2022 9:09 am
Christ is in our midst! The words of Met. Pavlos are such a low blow that is it below the level of decency of any communication. Demonic, Antichrist's communist decimation and desecration of Holy Russia to be called a "divine slap". And that Russians have not learnt their lesson? You'd think these words were uttered by Joe Biden himself. Such pure anti Russian hatred and propaganda that we are witnessing since the dawn of time, or shall i say Baptism of Russia, and Russia becoming a sovereign and formidable Orthodox nation/empire. In diaspora, Russian churches are full of various nationalities and I never encountered any nationalism or ethnic arrogance in any Russian church in the West. Very hospitable, quiet, cultured people that know their Faith and that care about their Faith first and utmost. Not any pan - Slavism.
Steve1/18/2022 6:56 am
Mother Cornelia, exactly, it seems the Metropolitan of Drama is attempting to ridicule the 102 priests who have joined the Russian Orthodox Church by asserting they are silly for supporting Pan-Slavism in Ukraine. Perhaps these African priests are actually more concerned about canon law?
Fr Makarios Rop1/18/2022 2:01 am
It's too early to condemn the actions of Russia. The best thing is to find out why African clergy decided to join Russian church. The issue should be down played to mean due to schismatic issues. Yes there is but we have a key factor. And the Metropolitans know it well. They should be open and speak it out.
Theodoros1/18/2022 1:40 am
Patriarch Bartholomew is power hungry. And cares nothing about the Ukrainians anymore than he cares about orthodoxy. The persecution of the Ukrainian church means nothing to him. He cares nothing about Greeks either so this bishop in drama is a fool. The Greeks who follow this Turkish citizen have made a horrendous mistake which they’ll will come to regret. Having taken over the church of Greece Bartholomew will leave that church in ruins as he destroys everything that he touches. Not all of us Greeks support him. I am Greek and I happen to love the Russians. I am disgusted with those Greek bishops who are acting as they are.
m. Cornelia1/18/2022 12:40 am
Steve: I understand your attempt at clarification, but the Ukraine is not a pan-Slavist situation. The Ukrainian Church has been under the Moscow Patriarchate for over 300 years. And it seems pretty clear that the Africans have very little concern for pan-Slavism. Their's is another issue entirely. His statement was very strange. Also, to classify the bloody, anti-Christian revolution in Russia as God's punishment for not agreeing with the Phanar--well that's just too much. Hasn't the Phanar noticed how churches were taken away from them just after they enabled the Ukrainian nationalists to take churches from the canonical Ukrainian Church? Really, it's beyond words, breathtaking blindness.
Alexander Leitner1/17/2022 10:41 pm
Depose Bartholomew and cast the greeks out! Problem solved.
Bob1/17/2022 9:41 pm
Interesting how the Constantinople hierarchs ignore the fact that their Ukraine decision had no role in this.
Steve1/17/2022 9:08 pm
Mother Cornelia, the reference to Pan-Slavism is of course referring to Ukraine. The Church headed by Metropolitan Onuphrey is essentially Pan-Slavist. The African Exarchate that has been created exists primarily because 102 priests of the Alexandrian Patriarchate are siding with the Pan-Slavists in Ukraine.
m. Cornelia1/17/2022 8:37 pm
Question for Met. Pavlos of Drama or whoever shares his view: How is an Russian Exarchate in Africa the result of Pan-Slavism? Africans, after all, are not Slavs by any stretch of the imagination. Very strange statement.
Stephanos 1/17/2022 7:09 pm
It appears that Metropolitan Pavlos of Drama and many Greeks of the Phanar and Pan-Hellenism, didn’t Learn from the “slap God gave them” at the Fall of Constantinople and 400 years of Turkish domination. Like the Jews, they remain with stiff necks, arrogance and pride.
Peter 1/17/2022 6:22 pm
Bartholomew will never agree to this because he knows he is outnumbered. That’s why his camp is calling for a council where 3/4 Churches are Greek-run.
Theodoros 1/17/2022 6:17 pm
The comments of the metropolitan of drama are contemptible and typical of the phanariots. Such anti Russian sentiments are beneath the dignity of any bishop. It is distressing to see bishops in Greece sacrificing the church of Greece’s autocephaly for the benefit of one single bishop Bartholomew. Bartholomew must be deposed.
Steve1/17/2022 6:10 pm
My understanding is that Alexandria has a special privilege to ask the Patriarch of Constantinople to convene a council of the ancient pentarchy.
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