The Church of Albania undoubtedly supports Ecumenical Patriarchate and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. In particular, Archbishop Anastasios declared that, in the case of a Schism, the Church of Albania shall remain by the side of the Ecumenical Patriarch.
The exchange of epistles between Archbishop Anastasios of Albania and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew is continued by Archbishop of Albania by publishing his epistle to Ecumenical Patriarch after the latter’s response on issues concerning mainly the granting of the status of Autocephaly to the Church of Ukraine.
In his new epistle, dated March 21, Anastasios clarifies that he never questioned the responsibility and the right of the Ecumenical Patriarchate to grand Autocephaly if the circumstances so warrant, but he wondered about the issue of the ordination of Bishops Filaret and Epiphanios, in comparison to the Melitian Schism.
Furthermore, he stresses that the case of Ukraine is not related to the Russian Diaspora who was cut off the Church of Russia which was under soviet surveillance. In that particular case, there were no aphorisms nor condemnations (anathematismoi), while the apostolic succession was not questioned, but when the soviet regime fell, there followed the reunion.
In his epistle, Archbishop Anastasios of Albania mentions that he understands Ecumenical Patriarch’s concern for the faithful of Ukraine to return to the bosom of the church, but he stresses that peacemaking has not been accomplished yet, and he warns against a division in “the Orthodox Church all over the world”.
Next, Anastasios refers personally to Ecumenical Patriarch, expressing his reverence to him for decades now, claiming that he is not influenced by other churches.
Indeed, he stresses that gratitude does not mean lack of critical theological thought and ecclesiastical experience or abolishment of freedom of conscience. “On the contrary, it means enhanced duty to speak one’s mind in clarity and freedom of speech”.
According to Archbishop of Albania, it would be safer for him to have chosen “false prudence” so as to avoid “offensive baseless allegations by reckless people”.
He goes on to say that the preservation of orthodox unity is still at stake, since the cracks are already evident. He also reminds us that it is a firm belief of the Church of Albania that, at present, a Pan-Orthodox Council is more than necessary.
Anastasios also agrees that the privilege of calling for such a Council “undeniably belongs to the Ecumenical Patriarch”.
In conclusion, Archbishop Anastasios makes clear that, with the particular epistle, he ends his reference to the Ukrainian issue and, in order to prevent misunderstandings, “we clarify that, in the case of the tragic result of a Schism (may God prevent it), the Orthodox Autocephalous Church of Albania shall stand firm by the side of the Ecumenical Patriarchate”.