04/23/2019, 09.41
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Strengthen collaboration between the Churches to protect Christians in the Middle East

by NAT da Polis

Meeting of Orthodox primates of the Middle East.  Meeting focuses on Ukrainian issue and relations between Antioch and Jerusalem.


Istanbul (AsiaNews) - On the initiative of the Archbishop of Cyprus, Chrysostomos II (in the photo), the Orthodox patriarchs  Theodoros of Alexandria, Ioannis of Antioch, and Theofilos of Jerusalem  met in Cyprus last Friday to discuss various issues that concern the Orthodox world, clearly including the Ukrainian one, which saw Moscow unilaterally interrupt the Eucharistic sacramental communion with Constantinople, after the concession of autocephaly by the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

It should also be emphasized that the three Orthodox patriarchates were part of the ancient pentarchia, of which Rome and Constantinople were also part, according to the canons decided in the 4th Ecumenical Synod of Chalcedon, in 451, a synod that had also granted autocephaly to the Church of Cyprus.

According to the statement released after their meeting, the four primates prayed for peace in the Middle East, to continue the historic presence of Christians on those lands, which saw the birth of the Church founded by Jesus Christ and spread by the apostles.  To this end, they decided to strengthen their collaboration with other Christian churches of different denominations, in order to better preserve the Christian presence.  They also appealed strongly to all political forces to work together to develop those areas, as their populations have suffered great injustices throughout history.  The four primates also expressed regret to the so-called powerful of the Earth for the indifference shown on the fate of the two metropolitans of Aleppo, Pavlos Yazizi and Ioannis Ibrahim, who disappeared just 6 years ago.

They also examined various issues concerning the Orthodox world including the Ukrainian question and invited everyone to work for the sacramental unity of the Eucharist, as it expresses the fullness of the Church in Christ and in order to protect the faithful and places of worship from all forms of provocation.

They also emphasized that they will continue to work together, observing that if differences arise temporarily in the Orthodox world, the Church remains united, because it refers to its Head, who is Our Lord.

Two considerations emerged from this important meeting

Firstly,  there is no longer any talk of calling a Pan-Orthodox synod over the Ukrainian question, and secondly, for the good of the faithful no to the sacramental interruption of the Eucharist over administrative disputes.

And right here in Cyprus, the patriarchs of Antioch and Jerusalem met on the margins of the meeting in order to make peace on the question of Qatar, which arose in 2013. Relations between Antioch and Jerusalem had soured, because Jerusalem appointed its bishop in  Qatar, considered a canonical territory belonging to Antioch. Thus Antioch interrupted Eucharistic sacramental unity with Jerusalem and did not participate in the work of the pan-Orthodox Synod of Crete (2016), due to the very presence of Jerusalem.

According to well-informed sources, with their meeting the two primates did not resolve the issue, but at the same time and according to the subsequent  statement - the use of the interruption of the Eucharistic sacramental communion should not be used as an instrument of political pressure - full communion between the two Churches will be re-established.

Perhaps this also opens up new perspectives for the Ukrainian question, already suggested by the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew on the day of the ordination of the new Ukrainian primate Epifanios, that is, to allow the faithful, if they wish to stay under the jurisdiction of his Brother Kyrill.

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