Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew underlined the responsible attitude of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in the ecclesiastical dispute that has erupted with the Moscow Patriarchate.
Although the Moscow Patriarchate has ceased commemorating the Ecumenical Patriarch on the pretext of granting autocephaly to the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, the primate of Orthodoxy clarified that the Patriarchate of Constantinople continued to commemorate the Patriarch of Moscow and advised the primate of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine to do the same.
Regarding the attitude of the Moscow Patriarchate, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew spoke of ingratitude. “As you know, in recent years (the first throne) has been tested by an ignorant attitude of the Russian Orthodox Church towards its Mother Church.
We are the Mother Church because we gave them Christianity. We enlightened them. We gave them the Cyrillic alphabet through which we wanted to help them promote their culture. And, as we say in the liturgical language, they turned their back on the benefactor.
They were angry with us because we made the Church of Ukraine autocephalous,” the Ecumenical Patriarch said during an event in New York, which is the last stop on his US apostolic visit.
It is reminded that according to the tradition of the church, the granting of autocephaly is a unique privilege of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. Over the centuries, the Ecumenical Patriarchate has repeatedly granted autonomy to local churches, starting with the Russian Orthodox Church itself in the 16th century.
“Why not do it, as we did with Russia, Serbia, Bulgaria, Greece, Poland, Romania, Albania? And it is the exclusive privilege of the Ecumenical Patriarchate to grant the autocephaly. All these churches that I have listed have become autocephalous by the Ecumenical Patriarchate, which empties itself for granting territories under its jurisdiction to become autocephalous independent churches,” the Ecumenical Patriarch explained.
In this light, after the crisis that arose between Ukraine and Russia, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew responded to the request of the people of Ukraine by granting them autocephaly.
In retaliation, the Moscow Patriarchate decided to stop commemorating the Ecumenical Patriarch. Remaining faithful to the ecclesiastical order and with a sense of responsibility towards history, the Church of Constantinople did not react to this move and continued to regularly commemorate Patriarch Kirill.
“So why not do the same with Ukraine with its 40-50 million inhabitants. Our Ukrainian brothers wanted not only now but also much earlier and now even more intensely to have their own church and not to belong to Moscow, not to depend on Moscow, not to be oppressed by Moscow. T
We did so with a sense of responsibility towards history and towards Ukraine and its people. They angered and severed Eucharistic ties with the Ecumenical Patriarchate. They struck the name off the diptychs and they do not commemorate me. Couldn’t care less about it (that they do not commemorate me),” said Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew.
Message of support to Archbishop Elpidophoros of America
Referring to the honor and the recognition for him by the US side, he noted that they reflected the high prestige enjoyed by the Ecumenical Patriarchate, which was, unfortunately, much larger internationally than inside Turkey, which is its historic headquarters.
Regarding US President Joe Biden, he referred to their friendship but also to the handwritten footnote that the US president added in the last reply letter he sent to him, which said “Be well because we need your leadership.”
The United States is one of the largest and most important provinces of the Ecumenical Throne. Referring to its importance, the Patriarch praised Archbishop Elpidophoros, saying that in a short time he managed to find solutions to the three major problems of the Archdiocese regarding the completion of Saint Nicholas Orthodox Church and National Shrone, the Hellenic College Holy Cross and the Pension Fund for the Clergy.
“After 12 years I have the blessing of God and I have the pleasure of being close to the Greek community in the USA. This time I found a new Archbishop at the head of the Archdiocese. Young in age and young at the beginning of his term.
The Patriarchate has full confidence in Archbishop Elpidophoros and for this reason, we elected him unanimously and sent him to lead as many years as the Lord allows.
We chose him because under the current circumstances we could not find another better and more suitable for this position.
I am glad to see that you embraced him with the same love that he came to you. And the mutual love, trust and vision that you have is the best guarantee for the success of his ministry.”