By Efi Efthimiou
A very interesting discussion took place at the event organized by the Organization for the Promotion of Greek and Orthodox Culture “Aenaos” at the Officers’ Club, regarding the Autocephaly of Ukraine and the war of Russia against Ukraine.
The Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, in a video speech, stressed that the granting of Autocephaly to the Orthodox Church of Ukraine has nothing to do with geopolitical facts and with the unacceptable invasion of Russia in Ukraine.
As the Ecumenical Patriarch commented, the war is artificially linked by the Church of Russia to the Autocephaly of Ukraine to cover its responsibilities and its great ambitions. “It was Russia who deepened the gap between Ukrainians and Russians, not the Autocephaly of Ukraine that was given to the suffering Ukrainian people. Russia’s reaction stems from an attempt to impose on the Ukrainian people and from the absence of a healthy ecclesiastical conscience.
The Ecumenical Patriarch stressed that the Church of Constantinople gave a helping hand to Russia to solve the Ukrainian issue, but the efforts did not work, due to the fault of the Russian side, which does not admit it.
“The leadership of the Church of Moscow is trying to impose a new ecclesiology which is overthrowing the ecclesiastical order on the basis of new data. But he must understand that the Ecumenical Patriarchate is the only guarantee for the unity of Orthodoxy. Without the Ecumenical Patriarchate, Orthodoxy will fall into the vortex of nationalisms, into the introversion of self-sufficiency, into the contempt of the modern world, ” he said.
He added that the Church of Russia continues to accuse the Ecumenical Patriarchate of being responsible for the tensions in Orthodox relations, while “it is Russia who creates the tensions, the one who entered the jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Alexandria uncanonically, tarnishing the image of Orthodoxy in the eyes of the Christian world.”
In his video message, the Ecumenical Patriarch stressed that the leadership of the Church of Russia considers that the intervention of the Ecumenical Patriarchate created a schism in Orthodoxy. “For us, this is not true. The granting of autocephaly is an essential contribution to the unity of Orthodoxy as a practical expression of Orthodox ecclesiology and centuries-old ecclesiastical practice.
It is the actions of the Church of Russia that threaten the unity of Orthodoxy and not the response of the Ecumenical Patriarchate to the request of the Ukrainian people.
He stressed that it is the Church of Russia that has papal claims, not the Ecumenical Patriarchate. “Moscow does not recognize the right of Ukrainians to have an autocephalous church because it wants to oppress them, it wants to turn Orthodoxy into a confederation of Churches in order to have a say. Its overtly arrogant and hegemonic mentality will highlight the pivotal role of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Orthodox discourse.
The Autocephaly of Ukraine is a fait accompli of the Church and cannot be annulled by any propaganda or war. The Church of Russia is ruthlessly pursuing matricide. We are all witnessing the catastrophe unfolding on Ukrainian soil. A ceasefire must be reached immediately”.
He called on all Orthodox Autocephalous Churches that have not already done so to proceed with the recognition of the Autocephalous Church of Ukraine.
“We call on all Orthodox autocephalous churches that have not yet done so to proceed with the recognition, showing in this way their support to the suffering Ukrainian people, and the Church of Russia to apologize for what it has caused Orthodoxy.
The hints of a link between the war and the granting of autocephaly are fictions of morbid imagination in order to cover up the crime currently being committed in Ukraine.
The Orthodox Ukrainian people will never accept that their church should continue to be subordinated to the Patriarchate of Moscow which blessed the invasion of their homeland”.