Patriarch Rejects Offer from Church of Greece

BOSTON. – The Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, presided by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomaios, decided to reject the recent decision by the Holy Synod of the Church of Greece concerning the issue of the so-called Metropolises of the New Lands of Greece.
The hierarchy of Greece voted on November 6 to present the Patriarchate with a list of candidates for the Metropolises of the New Lands, to which the Patriarch could make changes, but final approval would remain with the Church of Greece. The Church of Greece maintains its own Canonical administrative charter, which is validated by the constitution of the Greek state. The holy Synod of Greece voted overwhelmingly by 50 votes for Archbishop Christodoulos*#8217; proposition, 12 voted for the Patriarch to have final approval, and nine Metropolitans left the Synodal meeting in protest.
The National Herald has learned that all 12 members of the Patriarchal Synod in Constantinople agreed with Patriarch Bartholomaios*#8217; proposal to completely reject the decision of the Church of Greece, despite the overwhelming approval of its hierarchy. They also decided to reject the letter of Archbishop Christodoulos, which accompanied the decision of the hierarchy of Greece. Both the decision and the Archbishopric letter were delivered to the Ecumenical Patriarchate on November 13 by Metropolitians Efstathios of Sparta and Panteleimon of Xanthi.
At the Patriarchal Synod, a draft letter that was prepared by the chief secretary of the Synod, Metropolitan Meliton of Philadelphia, was read.
A discussion took place among the Synodal Metropolitans on the letter and it was agreed to invite to the Patriarchate Metropolitan Panteleimon of Tyroloi and Serentou, professor of Canon Law at the University of Thessaloniki, as well as Metropolitan Ioannis of Pergamon to validate the Canonical and Theological content of the letter.
It was also announced that the Patriarchal Synod will be convened on Thursday, November 27, to grant its final approval of the letter, and then send it to Archbishop Christodoulos in Athens.
The Patriarchate remains steadfast in its original position that there will be no compromise regarding the New Lands, for which it demands in letter and spirit the implementation of the Decree of 1928. It was said in the Holy Synod that the Patriarchate does not recognize any subsequent modifications or agreements that were done in 1929 as an official correspondence between then-Patriarch Vasileos, and then-Archbishop Chrisostomos testifies.
*nbsp;The Patriarch maintains that the Decree of 1928 cannot be revised by *#8220;a lower body*#8221; (Patriarch Vasileos) but only with an equivalent body which produced the Decree of 1928. However, it was not clarified if the then-Patriarch Vasileos, who agreed to modifications to the Decree of 1928, was expressing his own personal views and not those of the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate on such a serious official and administrative matter.
The letter-response that will be sent to the Church of Greece will include a warning that if elections are held for the vacancies of the Metropolises of Thessaloniki and Eleftheroupolis, they will be considered *#8220;non-Canonical.*#8221;
Well-informed ecclesiastical sources told the Herald that in that situation, the Greek government will be placed in a difficult situation because Archbishop Christodoulos, with the majority of hierarchical votes on his side, will claim that the election took place in accordance with the provided legislation and will ask for official confirmation. At the same time, the Patriarch will insist that the elections were non-Canonical, which will further escalate the conflict between the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Church of Greece.
Patriarch Bartholomaios appears to have been disturbed by the rumor that he is not going to attend the upcoming SAE convention in Thessaloniki in order to avoid a run-in with Archbishop Christodoulos. Sources from the Phanar told the Herald that it was never decided that the Patriarch planned to attend the meeting.