Damascus, 8 August, 2015
The Patriarchate of Jerusalem recently issued a statement claiming that it pretends to "tell the truth with honesty," regarding its aggression toward the jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Antioch and regarding establishing an Archdiocese in Qatar under its jurisdiction. The Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East asserts first of all that it keeps itself above public media debates. However, the Patriarchate now considers itself obliged to clarify certain points regarding the above-mentioned statement in order "to tell the truth with honesty."
1. Practical conditions did not allow the Church of Antioch to be present in Qatar during the period of time in question. This does not mean that the Church of Antioch is a newly established Church in "Arabia." Suffice it to note that the Church of Antioch has been ministering to the Christians in that region since the dawn of Christianity. In the modern era, the actual presence of Antioch was gradually strengthened in that region. On 1953, the church of Antioch had an Archdiocese there. The Church of Antioch historically and in the present time has an Archdiocese which encompasses the entire region, and is led by a Metropolitan who lives in its midst, and ministers to the Orthodox Christian people of various nationalities. A number of successive Metropolitans have been ministering to this Archdiocese up to this day. Thus, the question must be asked: Why didn’t the Patriarchate of Jerusalem ever object to the presence of Antioch, if it believes that it has ecclesiastical jurisdiction over Qatar?
2. The Patriarchate of Antioch is saddened and dismayed by the fact that the Patriarchate of Jerusalem is at such a loss in its approach to this crisis. Jerusalem has created a crisis. Furthermore, the Patriarchate denounces the fact the Patriarchate of Jerusalem misleads the faithful, as though to appear a battered victim. In fact, Jerusalem persists in its aggression, quoting an administrative memorandum issued by the Patriarchate of Antioch, and attributing words to the Patriarch of Antioch which he never said at any time, and will never say in the future. Therefore, in order to prevent any confusion, the Patriarchate of Antioch reiterates the fact that it ministers to the faithful who live within the historical and canonical jurisdiction set forth in the Sacred Canons. Currently, the jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Antioch does not now include Egypt, Jordan and Jerusalem. Furthermore, the Patriarchate of Antioch points out that some are maliciously mischaracterizing our outstanding relation with the Patriarchate of Alexandria. The Patriarchate of Alexandria ministers to a large number of Antiochian believers, residing in various countries within the African continent.
3. The Patriarchate of Antioch avoids controversial manners of speaking, and draws attention to two important points:
A. To accuse the Patriarchate of Antioch of ethnocentricity is certainly untruthful and disingenuous. The Patriarchate of Antioch simply says to all peoples: "Come and see." This assertion testifies to the openness of the Antiochian Church, and to the equality among its believers, and the diversity that characterizes the Antiochian ministry throughout world.
B. The Patriarchate of Antioch has been accused, among other allegations, that it has renounced “the agreement of Athens.” The Patriarchate of Jerusalem has called "the Ecumenical Patriarchate, and Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs” to witness to this fact. In Response to this, the Patriarchate of Antioch asks for the permission of the most holy Father the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew to quote his Protocol No. 943 dated November 12, 2013. The Ecumenical Patriarch himself is a guarantor in explaining everything:
As Your Beatitude, kyr kyr John, has come to realize and assess, we, the Ecumenical Patriarchate, in our mediocrity, have issued many repeated attempts to address the problem at hand. This problem has arisen suddenly and without warning—so we have made many appeals to our brother, His Beatitude, kyr Theophilos, the Patriarch of Jerusalem, in the following vein: that he not continue on any further in his action to ordain the one whom they call archbishop-elect … Unfortunately, Your Beatitude, contrary to all the counsels of the Ecumenical Patriarchate which are fraternal and sought after, and for the sake of the common pan-Orthodox good, and the sacred tradition of the Church, and even against Your own personal appeals, the patriarchate of Jerusalem has gone forward in ordaining and establishing the archbishop in question …