09/01/2018, 10.39
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Bartholomew and Kirill, dialogue towards a Ukrainian solution

by Vladimir Rozanskij

The ecumenical patriarch and the patriarch of Moscow met in Constantinople. No final declaration, but appreciation for the climate of "dialogue" and "satisfaction" for the meeting. For the Ukrainian media, Bartholomew placed Kirill in front of the fait accompli: the autonomy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, but headed by Onufrij and not Filaret (of Kiev).

Moscow (AsiaNews) - The expected meeting between Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople and Moscow Patriarch Kirill ended yesterday at 1:00 pm in Istanbul, without any tangible result. A final decision was expected on the autocephaly of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which would create so many problems for the patriarchate of Moscow.

Leaving the airport of the Turkish metropolis, Kirill declared that the discussion did not lead to anything that could "provoke earthquakes in consciences", that the exchange of opinions was very calm and correct. "We have discussed the issues that concern us, but I want to reiterate that it was a fraternal conversation, and I do not want to go into details without the agreement with his holiness [Bartholomew], even if there is no secret to be defended", added the Russian patriarch.

At the entrance to the Turkish patriarchal residence, greeting Bartholomew who welcomed him on the threshold, Kirill recalled the responsibility "for the whole Church of Christ" and for the custody of the Orthodox unity in the hands of the two patriarchs.

"I am bound to this place - he recalled - by very happy memories, here nothing has ever been done that could harm universal orthodoxy because we have the responsibility of the whole Church". In turn, Bartholomew wanted to express his satisfaction for the arrival of his Muscovite confrere: "Every time you come to us, it is a great joy for us, and it is a joy to be able to discuss issues that represent common interests together. We believe in the strength of dialogue: this is the path that God himself has shown us ".

Kirill and Bartholomew were flanked by a large group of metropolitans and archbishops, gathered from the day before for the meeting of the Synod of the Bishops of Constantinople. The Patriarch of Moscow reminded them of the difference "between simple dialogue and the meeting of the heads of the Churches; politicians defend their own interests, but in the dialogue between the Churches the most important thing is the fundamental unity among Orthodox Christians, who turn to the one, holy, apostolic Church. This gives us great responsibility, but also great strength and inspiration for our service ".

Kirill recalled that he had not seen his "ecumenical" confrere for two years, from the meeting in Geneva in 2016 on the eve of the Council of Crete, which then failed precisely because of the withdrawal of the Moscow delegation. He concluded with a brief "summary of the meeting: it was a very nice moment, with a wonderful atmosphere, we evaluated the issues that are on the agenda". It was a meeting "between two heads of Churches who realize responsibility for the conditions of universal orthodoxy and the problems of contemporary humanity", specified the head of the Russian Orthodox, thus putting himself on the same level of the universal patriarch of Orthodoxy.

A brief account of the visit, which took place at the Phanar, Bartholomew’s residence, was published on the official Telegram channel of the press service of the Patriarchate of Moscow. The negotiations lasted about two and a half hours, after which Kirill left the residence announcing: "There was a meeting, and everything went well".

In the following hours, the Ukrainian media speculated on the thesis that Patriarch Bartholomew presented Kirill in front of a fait accompli, communicating to him the intention of Constantinople to grant autocephaly to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. The relative brevity of the meeting could corroborate the thesis that there was not much to discuss, but the positive expressions of the patriarch of Moscow also indicate a possible satisfaction with the modalities of the decision. If the new autonomous jurisdiction was entrusted to metropolitan Onufrij (Berezovsky), whose loyalty to the Muscovite "sister church" has never been questioned, without necessarily elevating him to a patriarchal dignity, Kirill could still claim a paternity over the new local Church. This could mean the definitive exclusion of the irreducible adversary, the non-canonical patriarch Filaret (Denisenko), who for a quarter of a century has contended control over the Ukrainian herd in Moscow. According to the Ukrainian media, the final decision will be taken in October, by the Synod of Bishops of the Church of Constantinople.

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