Patriarch Theophilos invites Head of Phanar to the Council of Primates

03 January 2020 11:30
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Patriarch Theophilos III of Jerusalem. Photo: politmikser.mirtesen.ru Patriarch Theophilos III of Jerusalem. Photo: politmikser.mirtesen.ru

The Primate of the Church of Jerusalem invited Patriarch Bartholomew to gather in the spirit of fraternal love in order to overcome the current crisis in Orthodoxy.

The text of the invitation of the Primate of the Jerusalem Orthodox Church, Patriarch Theophilos III of Jerusalem, to the Council of Primates, which he sent to Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, was published on the Web. A photocopy of the text of this invitation was published by the online edition Orthodoxia.info.

In his letter, the Primate of the Jerusalem Patriarchate invited Patriarch Bartholomew to gather in the spirit of fraternal love for the Synaxis of Primates to take place presumably in late February 2020.

According to Patriarch Theophilos III, the unity of Orthodoxy is as necessary for us as "a living witness – a martyr – to the world".

“It is the sincere consideration to make it available for Your All Holiness and the rest of your brother Primates of the Orthodox Church the venue and the ability to convene and gather in the spirit of fraternal love and fellowship – koinonia – so that counsel may be taken together for the preservation of our unity in Eucharistic communion <...>,” said the Primate of the Jerusalem Patriarchate to the head of Phanar. “It is within this prayerful context that We open Our home in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, for hosting this ‘fraternal gathering in love’. We wish the Almighty Lord to bestow on us the ability to congregate, by the end of February and before the start of Holy Lent, so that together we may be a witness to the Church, and to the world, of the unity of the Orthodox Church and our Orthodox faith.”

Patriarch Theophilos III addressed Patriarch Bartholomew as a Brother in Christ and noted that he respects the privilege of seniority of the Patriarch of Constantinople.

"Observing the Holy Canons of the Church, We respect and support the role, position and status of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the privilege of seniority of Your Holiness, dear Brother in Christ," said Patriarch Theophilos.

Below is the full text of the invitation of Patriarch Theophilos III to the Head of Phanar:

Dear brother in Christ, 

We greet you warmly from the Holy Tomb of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Throughout the centuries, the Patriarchate of Jerusalem has functioned to maintain our Orthodox unity in the Holy Land, often in the face of great challenges, and always ensuring, with the grace of God, that the proper diversity, which characterises the cultures and histories of our various autocephalous sister Churches, finds a deep and enduring unity in our common faith.

We feel it to be of utmost importance, with every effort aimed at reconciliation and peace, that together we strive towards, and uphold fervently, our Orthodox unity; for it is of profound importance not just to ourselves but as a living witness – martyria –  to the world.

Abiding by the Holy Canons of the Church, We respect and uphold the role, position and status of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the privilege of seniority of Your All Holiness, dear Brother in Christ. Our anguish is for the crisis, that our Orthodox Church is passing through, not to deepen any further, and thus it is the sincere consideration to make available for Your All Holiness and the rest of your brother Primates of the Orthodox Church the venue and the ability to convene and gather in the spirit of fraternal love and fellowship – koinonia – so that counsel may be taken together for the preservation of our unity in Eucharistic communion.

As it had played similar roles in past and during different tenures throughout the Church’s history, the Patriarchate oh Jerusalem, guardian of the Church of the Resurrection and the Tomb of our Lord Jesus Christ, is laying a bridge for its sister Orthodox Churches to walk and stand together in these most testing of times.

It is within this prayerful context that We open Our home in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, for hosting this “fraternal gathering in love. We wish the Almighty Lord to bestow on us the ability to congregate, by the end of February and before the start of Holy Lent, so that together we may be a witness to the Church, and to the world, of the unity of the Orthodox Church and our Orthodox faith.

As our Lord Jesus Christ himself prayed for his disciples:

“Father...! I ask...that they may all be one. As you, Father, arc in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one. I in them you in me that they may become completely one, so that the world know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me."

With brotherly love in our Incarnate Lord Jesus Christ,

Theophilos III, Patriarch of Jerusalem

Holy City jerusalem

Wednesday, December 11.

Recall that on November 21, 2019, when Patriarch Theophilos III of Jerusalem was awarded the Prize of the International Foundation for the Unity of Orthodox Peoples, he invited the Primates of the Local Orthodox Churches to discuss “the issue of maintaining our unity in Eucharistic communion”. Arguing that such a Council can only be convened by Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, the Head of the Greek Orthodox Church, Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens and All Greece, said he would not participate in the work of the Council of Primates.

On December 28, 2019, Antioch Patriarch John X received a letter from Patriarch Theophilos III of Jerusalem with an invitation to the Council of Primates of Orthodox Churches, planned in Jordan to resolve the “Ukrainian issue”, and reaffirmed the position of the Holy Synod of his Church, which had previously advocated the need for a meeting of the Heads of Local Orthodox Churches for a joint solution of Orthodox issues.

The Head of the Albanian Church, His Beatitude Archbishop Anastasios of Tirana and All Albania, also called for an early convocation of the Council on the issue of the OCU.

The Head of the Church of Cyprus, Archbishop Chrysostomos II of New Justinian and All Cyprus, chose not to answer the invitation to the Council of Primates he had received from Patriarch Theophilos III of Jerusalem.

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