Istanbul, January 20, 2022
Holy Chrism will be made and consecrated at the Phanar later this year, and the Patriarchate of Constantinople aims to use the sacred rite as an occasion to draw the Local Churches into concelebrating with the Ukrainian schismatics.
This is discussed on pro-Phanariot outlets, and the same has been reported to OrthoChristian by its own sources.
In his Nativity Encyclical issued last month, Patriarch Bartholomew announced: “With God’s will, during the upcoming Holy and Great Week, we shall hold the service of the Blessing of the Holy Chrism in our venerable Center.”
Although holding autocephalous status, the majority of Local Churches, in fact, do not make their own Chrism, but receive it from Constantinople, either by tradition or as dictated by their tomoses issued by Constantinople.
Among these Churches is the schismatic “Orthodox Church of Ukraine.” And not only will the Churches receive their Chrism from Constantinople, but Pat. Bartholomew is expecting them to participate in their service.
The pro-Constantinople outlet World Ecclesiastical News reports that the consecration of Holy Chrism will take place in Istanbul “with the participation of representatives of the autocephalous Churches that receive Holy Chrism from the Ecumenical Patriarchate.”
These Churches are: Alexandria, Antioch, Jerusalem, Cyprus, Greece, Poland, Albania, Czech-Slovak, and the OCU. Of these only the primates and certain bishops of Alexandria, Cyprus, and Greece have recognized the OCU.
Thus, the service will be used to try to draw representatives of other Local Churches into concelebration with the schismatics.
This thesis was stated already last May by canon lawyer Nicolas Gurgenidze on a Facebook page dedicated to “Ukrainian Autocephaly, and then picked up by the schismatic outlet “Spiritual Front of Ukraine.”
Gurgenidze writes: “What makes the issue even more interesting is that as a rule none of the above-mentioned Churches will refuse to participate, because then how would they get Chrism?!”
Arkady Mahler, a member of the Russian Church’s Synodal Biblical-Theological Commission and the Inter-Council Presence of the Russian Church, notes that the hierarchs of other Local Churches will be drawn into a “danger zone,” as it is a serious violation of the canons to serve with unordained schismatics, while the Churches also don’t want to draw the anger of Constantinople.
“Many Churches, their primates and bishops, have taken the position that they don’t want to fight with or break off relations with anyone—neither with the Moscow Patriarchate nor with the Patriarchate of Constantinople. But this situation can’t last indefinitely,” Mahler said.
The majority of Local Churches have thus far resisted pressure from Constantinople and its political allies to recognize the schismatics. His Beatitude Patriarch Theophilos of Jerusalem was under great pressure to serve with them on the feast of Theophany in 2019, though he managed to maintain his canonical stance.
Depending on the stance the Local Churches take, they could refuse to participate in the service, or even refuse to accept Chrism from a service in which an OCU representative participates.