His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew left no room for questioning the decisions of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, especially regarding the granting of the Tomos of Autocephaly to the Orthodox Church of Ukraine.
On the occasion of the celebration of the Indiction, the ecclesiastical New Year, the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew presided over the Divine Liturgy, accompanied by Metropolitan Epifaniy of Kyiv and All Ukraine.
In his speech, the Ecumenical Patriarch referred to the initiatives and efforts of the Ecumenical Patriarchate to strengthen the unity and cooperation of the Orthodox Autocephalous Churches, the fruit of which was the convocation of the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church in Crete in 2016.
“Unfortunately, this effort of unity and cooperation has been destroyed in recent years by a new ecclesiology, which comes from the north, and a new theology, the theology of war.
It is this theology, that the sister Church of Russia began to teach trying to justify an unjustified, unholy, unprovoked, diabolical war against a sovereign and independent country, Ukraine. For almost two years now, we have been witnessing a tragedy. Not only in the relations between the two Orthodox Churches but in the centre of Europe, we see daily bloodshed. One hundred and fifty thousand, maybe two hundred thousand Russian soldiers were killed in this war, about one hundred thousand Ukrainian soldiers and countless civilians. I repeat that this is a tragedy. This, of course, also has an impact on the relations of the respective Orthodox sister Churches.
The interruption of Communion by the Church of Russia at the expense of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, as the President said, is unacceptable, and inexplicable. We cannot have the Divine Eucharist as a tool to pressure each other and force the other Churches to keep up with this new ecclesiology. The brother Metropolitan of Kyiv and all Ukraine is the victim. He sees his flock decimated, cities and villages destroyed, temples, schools, and hospitals razed to the ground…”
And the Patriarch continued: “We, for our part, do what we believe is right. We are provoked and invited by various sister Churches for the Ecumenical Patriarchate to convene again a Pan-Orthodox Conference or a Synaxis of Orthodox Primates to deal with the Ukrainian ecclesiastical issue, and our Patriarchate rejects these proposals because it is not willing to put under the judgment of the other Churches a Canonical Act, which it carried out itself.
And I say Canonical Act, because the granting of Autocephaly to the Church of Ukraine, with its 44 million faithful, was within the framework of the rights and diaconal responsibilities of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
If we exclude the Ancient Patriarchates of the East, all the newer Orthodox Churches, starting with the Church of Russia, received the Autocephaly from Constantinople. Why shouldn’t Ukraine receive it too?. That’s the point, very simple and very clear. Well, we will not convene a Pan-Orthodox Council, nor a Synaxis of Primates, because we have no intention of placing the decisions and initiatives of the Ecumenical Patriarchate under the judgment of the new ecclesiology.”
Then, the Primate of the Church of Ukraine, in a brief greeting, expressed again his joy at visiting the Ecumenical Patriarchate. He thanked the Ecumenical Patriarch for the care and continued interest of the Mother Church in Ukraine.
“Many Ukrainians now understand what our Church, the Church of Ukraine, really is, and what the Church of Russia is, which is why most Ukrainians support the Autocephalous Church,” said His Beatitude, among other things, and expressed the certainty that soon all Orthodox Ukrainians will unite around the Autocephalous Church, as well as that his homeland will win the ongoing war, because, as he said, “truth conquers, life conquers, and light conquers darkness.” In conclusion, he thanked the Ecumenical Patriarch and all those who support Ukraine and asked to continue to pray for its suffering people.
Elder Metropolitan Emmanuel of Chalcedon, Elder Metropolitan Apostolos of Derkoi, Elder Metropolitan Dimitrios of the Princes’ Islands, Metropolitan Panteleimon of Vryoula, Metropolitan Ezekiel of Dervis, Metropolitan Makarios of Anea, Metropolitan Meliton of Philadelphia, Metropolitan Seraphim of Sevastia, Metropolitan Eirinaios of Myriophytos and Peristasis, Metropolitan Chrysostomos of Myra, Archbishop Nikitas of Thyateira and Great Britain, Metropolitan Ignatios of Dimitrias and Almyros, Metropolitan Theodoritos of Laodicea, Metropolitan Theoliptos of Iconium, Metropolitan Andreas of Kastelli and Viannos, Metropolitan Evangelos of Sardes, Metropolitan Kyrillos of Rhodes, Metropolitan Hilarion of Winnipeg, Metropolitan Kirillos of Krini, Metropolitan Efstratios of Bila Tserkva, Metropolitan Savvas of Nubia, Metropolitan Stefanos of Kallioupolis and Madytos, Archbishop Elpidophoros of America, Metropolitan Athenagoras of Kydonia, Metropolitan Job of Pisidia, Metropolitan Maximos of Silivria, Metropolitan Bartholomew of Smyrna, Metropolitan Kyrillos of Imbros and Tenedos, Metropolitan Kyrillos of Hierapytna and Siteia, Metropolitan Vissarion of Spain and Portugal, Metropolitan Andreas of Forty Churches, and Metropolitan Demetrios of France attended the service.