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Analysis: Patriarch Theophilos: Here he Goes Again

Patriarch Theophilos of Jerusalem has recently sent another letter to the primates of the local Orthodox Churches, as we report in this issue, declaring his intention to convene an ‘synaxis’ (ecclesiastical assembly) again as soon as the risk of the pandemic passes. In other words, he will repeat last year’s sacrilege against the Ecumenical Patriarchate as Patriarch Bartholomew no one else has the historical, canonical, and ecclesiological privilege of convening all the ecumenical, major and extraordinary synods, and, of course, synaxeis of the prelates. Everything else is a diabolical and distressing deviation from canonical and ecclesiological order and the institutions of the Orthodox Church, making it an anarchic and disintegrating village, since everyone does what he wants, as he wants, whenever he wants, without any inhibition or any respect for the unity, canonicity, and catholicity of the Church. To put it more intelligibly and comprehensibly in the current language and perception, Theophilos essentially is engaging in an “abuse of authority,” for the reasons I mentioned above.

In his letter, which he again wrote in English (but the Russian propaganda service, through the busybody Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, made sure to translate it into Greek and leak it on the website of the Moscow Patriarchate), Theophilos refers to Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew as follows: “We also join together in prayer for our brother, His All-Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew, and our fellow Orthodox primates, and we look forward to serving together to further the unity of our communion.”

Note something! He does not refer to him as the Ecumenical Patriarch, nor even as Patriarch of Constantinople, which automatically means referring to him as ‘First’ without equals, since only the Ecumenical Patriarch has the right and privilege to convene synods and synaxeis, as we have said, and no one else, much less Jerusalem, who is the fourth of the ancient Patriarchs. And this is deliberately suppressed by Theophilos so as not to offend the Russians, who for years now have been working to devalue the Ecumenical Patriarchate, even though this Church is the Mother from which they came, regardless of whether they gained their autocephaly through coup and blackmail, but these things are not apparent now.

And so Theophilos plays their game openly and lends a hand and all kinds of ammunition to all those matricides, in Greece and elsewhere, including also those who are ignorant and theologically illiterate among of our Greek-American Community of our country. Let us not leave out the ‘bears’ in Athens that the big ‘bear’ of Moscow defiles and who roar every time we write about the rights of the Mother Church, which is the nourisher of the Genos, as if they do not have blood in their bodies, but only pus.

Let me remind here what Patriarch Bartholomew wrote last year to Theophilos among other things: “To begin with, we are surprised, not pleasantly, by the fact that for the first time in the centuries-long history of the two Patriarchates, the ‘Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem’ corresponds with the Ecumenical Patriarch in a foreign language and not our mother tongue, as if he has suddenly stopped feeling consanguineous and that he belongs in the same historic and suffering Nation … What has led your Beatitude to send us this other than honorable circular letter in English instead of following the centuries-old standard correspondence between our Churches?”

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew then reminded Patriarch Theophilos who it is that presides over the Orthodox Primates and who has the right to convene a Pan-Orthodox meeting (Synod).

He wrote: “It is needless to remind you of the position your Patriarchate holds in the rank of the Dyptichs of the Most Holy Orthodox Church, as well as the fact that, in the canonical order, which has always and until now been respected by all Orthodox Churches, the Pan-Orthodox Synods of the Primates have been always summoned by the Ecumenical Patriarch, who presides over these Synods. What kind of unity does your initiative want to serve, if the First of the Orthodox Primates in rank is absent from the Synod you propose?”

Finally, after stressing that the Eucharistic communion between the Churches was never interrupted, with the exception of the Church of Moscow, he called on Patriarch Theophilos to recall this “non-canonical initiative that serves foreign purposes and undermines the Ecumenical Throne.”

Theophilos, however, “did not come to his senses” but allowed himself to become a ‘satellite’ of Kirill of Moscow and, unfortunately, proceeds for the second time to an open undermining of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. Terrible! 

The issue is much more serious than it seems, and here is why: There will be a visible split, since whatever is decided in this uncanonical and unilateral synaxis will have no value and weight for the whole Orthodox Church because the First of the Orthodox Church, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, will not be present. These things are clear.

The Russians are given a second unexpected opportunity to appear as ‘regulators’ of ecclesiastical affairs, marginalizing the Ecumenical Patriarchate with their well-known propaganda and public relations methods.

The Russians will seize the opportunity to once more ‘invade’ the Holy Land – they have already invaded it often – and one should not be surprised if at some point they raise the issue of jurisdiction of the Holy Land, using political, economic, and other means. Can’t Theophilos realize that in this case the greatest and most essential matters of the Genos are at stake? Is there no one to shake him and bring him to his senses before it is too late to cancel his second planned unholy move?

The only one who could prevent the bad attempt to the detriment of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Genos would be Antonis Diamataris if he were in his old position, because he proved how wisely, quietly, and effectively he handled some ecclesiastical matters.

One must be consciously naive to believe that the current Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nikolaos Dendias, is interested in grasping the magnitude of what is at stake for the greatest and most essential things of the Genos as the Russians work through Theophilos. I am not even referring to the Deputy Foreign Minister in charge of Hellenes Abroad and the Churches of the Orthodox Diaspora, Konstantinos Vlassis, because of the magnitude of his ignorance. I hope and wish Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis would realize the magnitude of the issues and the things that are at stake and act accordingly while there is still time. Otherwise, history is waiting to treat him accordingly.

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