Greek theologian: Phanar appears isolated from autocephalous Churches

15 April 2019 18:07
Constantinople Patriarch Bartholomew Constantinople Patriarch Bartholomew

Due to its non-canonical actions on granting autocephaly to OCU, Phanar is for the first time isolated from other Churches, the theology professor said.

Phanar's policy has questioned its generally recognized coordinating role – the role of the church unity centre – and ended up with failure. Protopresbyter Theodore Zisis, professor at the Theological School of the University of Aristotle in Thessaloniki, writes about it.

According to him, "all this began from the flawed and inadequate representation of the Church Body at the Cretan pseudo-Council."

“The non-canonical nature of the invasion of the Church of Constantinople into the canonical territory of the Russian Church is as clear as day. This territory has been for more than three centuries (since 1686) belonged to the Russian Church with the undoubted and universal recognition of this fact by all Local Churches (including the Ecumenical Patriarchate itself), as shown by scientific historical and canonical studies,” the theologian explains.

He stresses that despite this “some researchers are making efforts to present a different picture: supposedly the Ecumenical Patriarchate has canonical jurisdiction in Ukraine and, even worse, it has allegedly the exclusive right to bestow autocephaly without the consent of the whole Body of the Church, which should reveal itself in a conciliar and pan-Orthodox manner."

"This newly-minted ecclesiology, which seeks to present the Ecumenical Patriarch not as "first among equals" (primus inter pares), who makes decisions and judges in agreement with the others but as "first without equal" (primus sine paribus), who decides solely as the pope, has reached its pinnacle in a completely sole and authoritarian decision of the Ecumenical Patriarchate to reinstate the Ukrainian schismatics without observing the conditions stipulated by the sacred canons – public repentance, re-ordination or re-laying hands on them,” continued the Greek scholar.

According to him, “what is the worst thing in the situation with the Ukrainian schismatics (and this circumstance is not fully realized from the canonical and pastoral point of view) is the fact that for many centuries there has been the canonical Church in Ukraine, now headed by Metropolitan Onufry, from which the dissenters fell away, yet Pat. Bartholomew creates simultaneously a parallel jurisdiction in the same place, creates a new synod, thereby becoming the initiator of a split, which can have bitter consequences not only for Ukraine, but also for the whole of Universal Orthodoxy.”

“However, in none of the past cases of granting autocephaly in the church space was there any opposition of canonical and schismatic churches. We asked for autocephaly – and we got it! Autocephaly is granted to the Church that embodies the plentitude of the faithful of a particular country,” says Theodore Zisis.

He added, “It used to be that the Church could backslide into schism, expressed repentance, returned to the canonical status and received autocephaly. In Ukraine, there is one and only one canonical Church, which all autocephalous Churches have recognized for centuries, but She did not ask for any autocephaly. It was the schismatics who asked about it and to whom the Ecumenical Patriarchate should have recommended repenting and returning to the canonical Church, since the Church and She alone has the right to ask for autocephaly and receive it.” 

“Now, in one and the same country, the Ecumenical Patriarch has created a parallel local church with its own separate synod, not recognized by the canonical Church. By virtue of the patriarchal decree, in fact, the split was born. How can two ecclesiastical jurisdictions exist in one country? For years, we have been trying to solve the problem of multiple jurisdictions in the Orthodox Diaspora, and the Ecumenical Patriarch brings the same problem to the legitimate canonical territory of the autocephalous Churches, where there are no theological and canonical grounds for this,” the professor of theology explained.

He emphasizes that the ecclesiastical authorities of the Greek-speaking Local Churches – four out of five – disagree with the autocephaly for the OCU: “At present, four of the five Greek-speaking Local Churches have refused to side with the Church of Constantinople, while the fifth, Hellas, is silent and waits for the ball to drop. Two – Albanian and Cyprus – specifically ask for the convocation of the Pan-Orthodox Council on the Ukrainian issue."

“Nothing offends God more than heresy and schism. Even the martyr’s blood cannot wash away the sin of schism. Of course, from the ecclesiastical point of view everything is absolutely clear: no local autocephalous Church recognizes the pseudo-autocephaly in Ukraine; not a single local autocephalous Church makes a liturgical mention of Epiphany as a primate of the schismatics in their diptychs,” concludes the theologian.

As the UOJ reported, earlier Protopresbyter Theodore Zisis stated that Constantinople deliberately distorts the historical truth in order to back the schism in Ukraine.

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