The Ecumenical Patriarch was very strict when he spoke of the Russian Church, which uses pilgrims as a tool for exerting pressure on the Churches that do not act in accordance with its wishes.
“We have great difficulty in criticising the touristification of pilgrimages when an Autocephalous Orthodox Church is using them as a tool for exerting economic pressure on the Church of Greece and the Greek people. The reason for this is the official recognition of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine. The Russian Orthodox Church has adopted the same approach as it concerns the Holy Communion in order to oppose the Ecumenical Patriarchate.”
The Ecumenical Patriarch spoke of this issue in a video message during the beginning of the 4th Panhellenic Conference on Pilgrimage Tours that took place yesterday in Arta.
In fact, he did not hesitate to call the Russian actions a “murky affair,” using a quote from the Gospel.
In particular, the Ecumenical Patriarch said, “If you claim that you have spoken the truth, but in reality, you tell lies because the truth is against your own interests, then it doesn’t matter what you say. You are involved in a murky affair.” “It is sad that pilgrims, who remain steadfast in Orthodox faith, face nowadays such challenges and alienation in a money-centred society. They expect the Church offers them pastoral support. It is sad that the pilgrimage of innocent Christians is exploited by foreign parties that are against the ethics of Orthodox Christianity, in order to promote secularisation of the Church from within.”
The choice of the Patriarchate of Moscow to use pilgrims as a tool of economic pressure on the Metropolises of the Church of Greece is striking and disappointing. Most of the hierarchs reported actions that were outside Church order.