To the Editor:
The following letter is in response to Mr. Kalmoukos’ February 15 analysis attacking Patriarch Theophilos of Jerusalem. As a proud Greek-American writer who has written three books and various articles to media outlets on Greece, Cyprus, and the Ecumenical Patriarchate I am truly appalled by the sentiments expressed and the language used. Patriarch Theophilos of Jerusalem, alongside various Bishops, Priests, monastics, and well educated and informed theologians from Greece and Cyprus have criticized Patriarch Bartholomew’s actions in Ukraine because they respect the canon laws, ecclesiology, and conciliar tradition of the Orthodox Church.
During the eighth century, Byzantine Emperors, Patriarchs, and Bishops burned and destroyed icons while the people of God protected them and venerated them (the iconoclastic crisis). In 1439, under pressure from the Roman Catholics, Emperor John Paleologos bullied the Patriarch and his Bishops into accepting the heretical Council of Florence. When they returned to Constantinople, the hierarchy encountered the anger of the people of God who maintained their loyalty to Christ and the teaching of the fathers of the Church. Patriarchs and Bishops have been wrong before and it is a disastrous mistake to suggest that all power should reside in one single Bishop over the universal Church whose leader is Jesus Christ.
It is clear to any open minded and serious individual why Patriarch Theophilos is convening a gathering in Jordan. His beatitude cares about the unity of the Orthodox Church and seeks to find a way to resolve the Church crisis so that there will not be a permanent schism. Anyone familiar with the facts as to what has transpired in Ukraine or has researched the shady backgrounds of its schismatic “bishops” understands what is at stake here.
The Holy Gospel teaches us to “know the truth, and the truth shall set you free” (John 8:32). There are those of us who believe in searching for the truth and finding the facts with regard to the crisis in the Orthodox Church.
Greek Orthodox faithful have a responsibility to Christ our Lord to see the truth as it pertains to Ukraine. Political interests have interceded to legitimize schismatics in Ukraine through the immoral influence over the Churches of Constantinople and Greece.
As a Greek-American, I stand firmly in solidarity with my Orthodox brethren in Ukraine who face unjust persecution.
Blind loyalty to a single Bishop of the Church is not consistent with the message of the Gospel, the fathers of the Church, or holy tradition. And those of us of Greek ancestry should be outraged by the lack of respect for the sacred institution of the Orthodox Church by western officials and their interference in the Churches of Greece and Constantinople.
Theodore G. Karakostas