CONSTANTINOPLE – His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, at the conclusion of the Divine Liturgy on Sunday, January 5, at the Patriarchal Church of Saint George, said in his homily, that “the invitation from Patriarch Theophilos of Jerusalem “to preserve unity in Eucharistic communion” must be actually sent to the Patriarch of Moscow and not to all Orthodox Churches.”
Representatives from the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, led by Metropolitan Makarios of Lviv, also participated in the Divine Liturgy on the first anniversary of the granting of the Tomos of Autocephaly for the Church of Ukraine. The Ecumenical Patriarch added that the “non-canonical” initiative of Patriarch Theophilos of Jerusalem, “left a deep impression” on them.
His All Holiness, addressing the delegation from Ukraine, said, “we are delighted to welcome you to the Ecumenical Patriarchate to celebrate all together the first anniversary of the granting of the Tomos of the Autocephaly to the Orthodox Church of Ukraine.”
In addition, he expressed satisfaction that things were working properly and he said that he was optimistic about the future of the new Church, and noted that, “the Ecumenical Throne has canonically the sacred responsibility for the unity and stability of Orthodox Churches and that is why it never remained idle. Every time an Orthodox Church was seeking a solution long-standing ecclesiastical problems, it requested support from the Ecumenical Throne.”
He also said that “we consider it completely unacceptable that some accuse the Ecumenical Patriarchate of exercising power and of being manipulated by secular rulers. They are not ashamed of accusing the Mother Church and the Ecumenical Patriarch of being bribed. They measure their corn by their own bushel.”
The Ecumenical Patriarch congratulated Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens and All Greece and also the Patriarch Theodore of Alexandria for standing by the Mother Church by including the name of Metropolitan Epiphanios of Kyiv and all Ukraine in the Diptychs. “On the other hand,” he said, “the non-canonical initiative of Patriarch Theophilos of Jerusalem left a deep impression on us. He invited all Heads of Orthodox Churches to a meeting in Amman of Jordan in order to ‘preserve unity in Eucharistic communion’, as he said…Everybody knows [however] that the Patriarchate of Antioch is not in communion with the Patriarchate of Jerusalem because of the issue of jurisdiction over Qatar. It is also known that the Church of Russia severed full communion with three heads of Orthodox Churches, who are in communion with the Church of Ukraine. So, the invitation to us from the Patriarch of Jerusalem for a meeting in order to ‘preserve unity in Eucharistic communion’ must be actually sent to the Patriarch of Moscow and not to all Orthodox Churches,” he concluded.
Metropolitan Makarios of Lviv in his homily said among other things that “for many centuries we have been waiting for that day, that is January 5, 2019! God did not respond immediately to our prayers, but he ultimately responded in the best way! A Great and wise Patriarch was born, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, who heard the sorrow in our souls, listened to the problem we had, and solved it by granting us Autocephaly.” He also referred to the work of the Head of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, Metropolitan Epiphanios of Kyiv and all Ukraine, whom he assured that he has been supporting, adding that, “2019 was a very difficult year for us. We have heard many lies about our Church. We heard that the Mother Church of Constantinople has been exerting control over us, but in reality, it was the Mother Church that granted autocephaly to us! Instead, those who claim that they were free and independent, they are actually submissive to foreign orders. However, our response to lies and calumnies is the ‘Truth and Love’! Thank you very much! And we will be always grateful to the Mother Church of Constantinople. This is what we will be teaching to our children. To the children of our children. And to the next generations. They are our future.”