By Efi Efthimiou
Metropolitan Gabriel of Nea Ionia expressed the view that the door of dialogue with the Church of Russia should not be closed, among other things.
Speaking at the second round of the discussions of the evening on the Autocephaly of Ukraine and the war, Gabriel stressed that for the Church of Greece, the Ukrainian issue is a major issue, which is why one year after 2018, the Church of Greece decided almost unanimously to recognize the Autocephaly.
“We were the first after the Mother Church of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. Over the years, the Church of Greece has aligned itself with the Ecumenical Patriarchate, because it considers that Constantinople is correcting the word of truth,” the Metropolitan of Nea Ionia noted.
As he stressed, the changes we will see in the Russian church scene will always be the result of political developments. The war is already approaching one year, no one knows when it will end, especially if China is involved. Along the way it will meet with Russia’s interests, and with efforts to buy land, as the issue of food will occupy the planet in the coming years.
The current Patriarch of Moscow changed policy compared to his predecessor Alexy, while the current Metropolitan Antonios of Volokolamsk has a different personality from Metropolitan Hilarion. “We will see in the process what it will signal,” Gabriel said.
He added that “the Church of Greece will always await the initiatives from the Ecumenical Patriarchate, which we will be ready to serve. I believe that the door to dialogue should never be closed. The Patriarchate must always have an open dialogue with Russia, as ecclesiastical issues can precede the solutions that will come in politics.
We will see a constant escalation of tensions from Russia. He recalled that during the 11th Assembly of the World Council of Churches in Karlsruhe in September, everyone (Protestants, Catholics, etc.) had a completely critical attitude towards Russia, mainly on the issue of the justification of the war.
“The Moscow delegation in Karlsruhe had a character of martyrdom, a clear picture that ‘understand, we do not have freedom of speech.’ And we must not forget that they are our Christian brothers,” stressed the Metropolitan of Nea Ionia.
In Crete, he underlined, the Russians did not come, and although the Ecumenical Patriarchate made concessions, it exaggerated itself to the point that we never imagined that the Ecumenical Patriarch would have made so many concessions. If the Russians had come to the summit in Crete, the situation with the Ukrainian issue today would have been different, he said.
He noted that all Churches should emphasize our absolute identification with the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Patriarchate of Alexandria. It is essential that the door of dialogue with the Russian Church remains open, Gabriel stressed.
Referring to the role of social media and propaganda, he said that the pandemic highlighted the problem of propaganda through social media. The pietism that comes from the Russian mentality comes from all social issues, it has nothing to do with the Church. “What the Russian Church is trying to create with funding, especially in northern Greece, has to do with an orthodoxy that is more secular but not so orthodox.”