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Captive of These Decisions, too, is Patriarch Bartholomew

May 25, 2024
Analysis by Theodore Kalmoukos

Beyond the issues in Crete and our own in America, as we wrote in our ‘Analysis’ in last week’s edition, Patriarch Bartholomew has unfortunately ensnared himself in problems with the majority of local Orthodox Churches worldwide, with few exceptions such as those of Greece, Alexandria, and Cyprus, due to the granting of Autocephaly to Ukraine, which has proven to be ill-timed and ill-suited.

Of course, Autocephaly could have been granted, but in a different manner, and many issues could have been avoided, foremost among them the division of the Orthodox Church around the world. Now the question and the challenge is how to overcome this impasse and eliminate this division in a time that should be dominated by the spirit and charism of unity.

Among other dramas currently experienced by the Church of Constantinople and Patriarch Bartholomew is their isolation from Orthodox Churches, including two Greek-speaking ones, those of Albania and Jerusalem.

I am aware of the roles of Emmanuel, and Elpidophoros from when he was still an abbot in Halki and Metropolitan of Bursa (!), in the matter of the Autocephaly of Ukraine.

And as I am informed, Bartholomew may fall into a new self-entrapment by granting Autocephaly to the Church of Skopje or Northern Macedonia. This is another problematic situation. He seems to be led in this direction by some of his courtiers, while Metropolitan Kyrillos of Imbros and Tenedos is preparing the ground with his frequent visits to a specific monastery.

Of course, if Bartholomew does so, his isolation will intensify even further because he will face serious issues with the metropolitans of Northern Greece, as he has facing serious issues with those of Crete, and surely, he will put Greece in a difficult position, which is unnecessary;

Meanwhile, hierarchs of the Phanar are observing from a distance what has happened and what is to come in silence, fearing that if they say a single word, they will face the wrath and anger of the Patriarch. Yes, this is the climate in the courts of the Great Church of Christ, as those in the Phanar like to say.

And there is something else that is really painful – the fact that Patriarch Bartholomew, despite maintaining his mental clarity, does not seem to understand the game of weakening him played behind his back by some of his courtiers there, and by his spiritual son Elpidophoros here in America, literally tarnishing his legacy after a largely glorious patriarchy, and leading him down perilous paths…

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