Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew emphasized the responsible position of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in the church dispute, which flared up with the Moscow Patriarchate.
Although the Russian Patriarchate stopped commemorating the Ecumenical Patriarch under the pretext of granting “self-determination” to the Ukrainian Church, the head of the Fanari explained that the Patriarchate of Constantinople continues to commemorate Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and advised the leader of the Ukrainian Church to do the same.
As for the attitude of the Moscow Patriarchate, Bartholomew declared his ingratitude. “As you know, in recent years [первый престол] was tested by the ignorant attitude of the Russian church towards its mother church. We are the mother church because we gave them Christianity. We gave them the fire of faith. We gave them the Cyrillic alphabet, with the help of which we wanted to help them develop their civilization. And they, as we say in church language, began to rebel against the benefactor. They were angry with us because we made the Ukrainian church autocephalous, ”Bartholomew said during an event in New York, the last stop on his US tour.
According to Bartholomew, the granting of autocephaly is a unique privilege of the Ecumenical Patriarchate – if we gave it, we can take it back. Over the centuries, the Ecumenical Patriarchate has granted autonomy to local churches several times, starting with the Russian Church itself in the 16th century. “Why not do it as we did with Russia, Serbia, Bulgaria, Greece, Poland, Romania, Albania? And to grant autocephaly is the exclusive privilege of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. All these churches, which I have listed, have become self-governing Ecumenical Patriarchate, which is emptied because it provides territories under its jurisdiction so that they become self-governing independent churches, ”explained the Ecumenical Patriarch.
In this light, after the crisis that arose between Ukraine and Russia, Patriarch Bartholomew responded to the request of the authorities of the people of Ukraine for self-determination. In response, the Moscow Patriarchate announced a raider seizure and decided to stop commemorating the Ecumenical Patriarch. The Church of Constantinople, remaining faithful to the church order and with a sense of responsibility before history, did not react to this step in any way and continued to regularly mention Patriarch Kirill, Bartholomew believes.
“So why not do the same with Ukraine with its 40-50 million inhabitants? Our Ukrainian brothers wanted not only now, but much earlier, and now even stronger, to have their own church and not to belong to Moscow, not to depend on Moscow, not to be harassed by Moscow. We did this with a sense of responsibility before history, before Ukraine and its people. [Русская Церковь] indignant and cut off communication with the Ecumenical Patriarchate. They took the name out of the diptychs and don’t mention me. I do not care [то, что они не упоминают обо мне]”, – said Bartholomew.
“Full confidence” in Elpidophorus
Referring to the recognition given to him by his host in the United States, he noted that they reflect the high prestige of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, which, unfortunately, is much greater internationally than within Turkey, its historic headquarters. As for US President Joe Biden, he referred to the personal friendship that unites them, as well as to a handwritten note that the American president added in the last letter he sent him, which said: “Be healthy because we need your guidance “.
The United States is one of the largest and most important dioceses of the Ecumenical See. Referring to his importance, the Patriarch praised Archbishop Elpidophoros, saying that in a short time he managed to find solutions to the three main problems of the archdiocese, which related to the completion of the construction of St. Nicholas Church, Boston Theological School and the clergy’s pension fund.
“12 years later [с момента его последнего визита в США] I have the blessing of God and I have the pleasure of being close to the Greek community in America. This time I found a new archbishop, young in age, at the beginning of my term. We in the Patriarchate fully trust the personality of Mr. Elpidophoros, and for this reason we unanimously chose him and sent him to lead for as many years as the Lord permits. We chose him because in the current conditions we could not find anyone better and suitable for this position. I am glad to see that you hugged him with the same love with which he came to you. And the mutual love, trust and vision that you possess is the best guarantee of the success of his archdiocese. ” [AMNA]