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Analysis: The Visit of Patriarch Bartholomew to Ukraine Is a Historic Event

Αssociated Press

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, center, accompanied by the Head of the Ukrainian Church Metropolitan Epiphanius, right, visits the Mikhailovsky Zlatoverkhy Cathedral (St. Michael s Golden-Domed Cathedral) in Kyiv, Ukraine, Saturday, Aug. 21, 2021. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)

The recent official visit of His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew to Ukraine was a historic event of great importance for the life of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine and course of the Orthodox Church throughout the Ecumene, but also for his Patriarchy. Let me remind you that this year marks thirty years of a glorious Patriarchy, full of successes and blessings, groundbreaking decisions and initiatives ‘beyond numbering’.

Of course, there were challenges and animosity not only from opponents, but unfortunately even from some who have benefited the most from Patriarch Bartholomew and the Mother Church of Constantinople.

The proclamation of Autocephaly in the Church of Ukraine three years ago put an end to a long-lasting wound not only for Ukraine, but for the Church as a whole. The Patriarch, having exhausted all the time, patience, and effort, made the sign of the cross and went ahead, defying the reactions, the threats, the intrigues, the libelous attacks not only by the Russians and the Russia-struck and Russia-moved satellites, with a clear unhellenic and anti-Patriarchal attitude in Greece, but also here, those who even in recent months with rabid fury tried to torpedo his visit to Ukraine, but miscalculated, because Bartholomew is not intimidated by such types of individuals.

There is the sad case of a Metropolitan of the Greek Church, who on the eve of the Patriarch's visit to Ukraine had invited a Russian Hierarch to his Metropolis, insulting the Ecumenical Patriarch and the Mother Church of Constantinople, and participated in a wide-ranging and nationwide ‘pilgrimage’ that included a certain Greek island .

Of course, the question is: When will the institutional representation of the Church of Greece, Archbishop Ieronymos and the Synod, address such behaviors, which play the game of the Russians to divide the Church of Greece?

Patriarch Bartholomew rightly and wisely ignored all these opponents of the Hellenic Nation, as non-entities and proceeded to grant Autocephaly, but also to make his visit to Ukraine, which was wholly successful and peaceful.

What the Patriarch said in his address to the faithful in Kyiv regarding his historic decision to grant the Tomos of Autocephaly is very interesting, about having first exhausted with great patience and magnanimity, as I mentioned above, all the avenues of dialogue and reconciliation: “Without the assistance or consent or exhortation of anyone, as only we had this canonical and unique responsibility, we resolved with reverence the existing ecclesiastical problem. We hoped after silence and heartfelt prayer for the restoration of these matters. For many years we gave the opportunity to all the parties involved, without violence and emotional burden, for the elimination of extremes, the natural maturation and dialogue with dissidents, the restoration of ecclesiastical life in unity. We invited quietly and apart from any ephemeral publicity, leading the way on the holy path of dialogue in Christ to find a way out of the damaging fratricidal schism. Long-suffering and tolerance, dear brothers and children in the Lord, in no way in the Church is equated with devaluation, dismissal, forgetfulness, abandonment. The hope of the Great Church of Christ in the expectation of repentance, return and restoration of those who have unfortunately deviated cannot be a rebuke and a reproach against it, but on the contrary, her anointing in the Lord for her constant remaining on the Christlike Way, that is, in the relief from trouble, toil and negligence of her children everywhere.”

The message is clear that the Ecumenical Patriarchate is the First Throne and First Responsible Church, the defender and guarantor of the unity and catholicity of the Church with Eucharistic and Ecclesiological dimensions. Let me emphasize once again that only the Ecumenical Patriarch, and no one else, has the historical, ecclesiological, and canonical privilege and right to grant Autocephaly to a Local Orthodox Church, no matter how much some try to deprive the Ecumenical Patriarchate of this privilege in order to usurp the Primacy of the Orthodox Church from the Ecumenical Patriarchate, devotees of the so-called ‘Third Rome’ theory, hidden and overt acolytes of Kirill, Hilarion, Putin and their satellites.