Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew: “As the Mother Church, it is reasonable to desire the restoration of unity for the divided ecclesiastical body in Ukraine”
His All-Holiness expressed the Ecumenical Throne’s unabating interest for the healing of the Ukrainian ecclesiastical problem and the restoration of unity for the divided ecclesiastical body in that country during his address in the Chamber of the Throne, following the 40-day memorial of Metropolitan Evangelos of Perge, which took place on Sunday, July 1, 2018, at the Patriarchal Church of St. George at the Phanar. His All-Holiness reminded everyone present that the Church of Constantinople, which in the past has worked to successfully resolve difficult ecclesiastical problems—always guided by what is beneficial for the people of God and the preservation of Pan-Orthodox unity—strives even today for the definitive resolution of the ecclesiastical issues in Ukraine.
Referring to the personality and contribution of the late Hierarch of the Ecumenical Throne, who worked as a member of many Synodal Committees to resolve various problems, “with history, the canons and rationality as his criteria,” Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew specifically highlighted the following:
Even today, if he were amongst us, he would have consented to the current and timely matter of settling the Ukrainian ecclesiastical problem. For, as the Mother Church, it is reasonable to desire the restoration of unity for the divided ecclesiastical body in Ukraine, a faithful population of tens of millions, baptized and enlightened directly through the providence and missionary activity of our Ecumenical Throne. Besides, as in the past, the Church of Constantinople—while exercising its canonical rights and pastoral care—worked to successfully resolve difficult and complicated ecclesiastical problems, always guided by what is beneficial for the people of God and the preservation of Pan-Orthodox unity. We should simply remember the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s recent participation and support in the problems that afflicted the Churches of Jerusalem, Cyprus, Albania, and so on. In this spirit, the Great Church of Christ of Constantinople, speaking the truth in love, strives even today for the definitive resolution of the ecclesiastical issues in Ukraine.
Subsequently, His All-Holiness reminded the congregation about spiritual and canonical rights of the Ecumenical Throne on the Ukrainian territory:
Let us not forget that Constantinople never ceded the territory of Ukraine to anyone by means of some ecclesiastical Act, but only granted to the Patriarch of Moscow the right of ordination or transfer of the Metropolitan of Kiev on the condition that the Metropolitan of Kiev should be elected by a Clergy-Laity Congress and commemorate the Ecumenical Patriarch. Listen to what is mentioned in this regard in the Tome of autocephaly, which was granted by the Mother Church to the Church of Poland: “For it is written that the original separation from our Throne of the Metropolis of Kiev and of the two Orthodox Churches of Lithuania and Poland, which depend on it, and their annexation to the Holy Church of Moscow, in no way occurred according to the binding canonical regulations, nor was the agreement respected concerning the full ecclesial independence of the Metropolitan of Kiev, who bears the title of Exarch of the Ecumenical Throne...”
In conclusion, His All-Holiness once again referred to the late Metropolitan Evangelos of Perge, saying that everyone remembers his spiritual ministry, as well as the compassion and love that he exhibited towards every person.
Those present included Archbishop Damianos of Sinai, Pharan and Raitho, Hierarchs of the Ecumenical Throne, relatives of the late Metropolitan of Perge, Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, clergy, members of the Omogenia and pilgrims from abroad.