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Pan-Orthodox alarm

Vyacheslav Nikonov believes that we should not indulge in "Eastern Popery", but do not leave, and efforts to find agreement.

The most important event, which is being watched the entire Orthodox world, should become a Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church. It is designed to demonstrate unity in the face of the most difficult challenges of the XXI century, many of which are civilizational in nature, experience the strength of traditional spiritual and moral values. Unfortunately, as far as how close the previously announced date of its opening - June 18 2016 years - growing and anxiety both for the success of his work, and for the unity of the Orthodox world.

Difficulties in the preparation of the Pan-Orthodox cathedral historically largely reflected the rather ambiguous relationship between the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Russian Orthodox Church.

Rus was baptized after the last Ecumenical Council, when the Byzantine Empire was the most advanced civilization and the center, and the present capital of Christianity, leaving Rome behind. By receiving the baptism from Constantinople, our church has existed as a Russian Metropolia with the center in Kiev, which is the northern periphery of the canonical territory of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, Ecumenical. Because of the late its inception Russian church held in the diptychs - lists for the liturgical commemoration - not the most honorable 61-place.

The first bishops and priests - in the beginning it was the Greeks - were delivered from Korsun and Byzantium, and the entire church organization the Old Russian state was in the hands of the Patriarch of Constantinople. But in the time of Mongol domination over Russia in Constantinople recognized the complete hopelessness of Russian metropolitans purpose without the consent of Moscow. Patriarchal Cathedral 1380, decided from now on "at all times the bishops of All Russia shall be placed in no other way than only at the request of Great Russia."

Serious divergences of Moscow with Constantinople began after the Russian church - like the rest of the Orthodox churches - was invited to follow the Patriarch of Constantinople and submit to the Orthodox-Catholic Union, signed by the Florentine Council, concluded by the Byzantines in the vain hope of gaining the support of Western Europe in confronting the Turks. The Grand Prince of Moscow, Vasily II, ceased relations with the Constantinople who accepted the union, and in 1449 the cathedral of Russian bishops elected Ion as the new metropolitan. From this moment the Russian Church became de facto an autocephalous - independent and self-governing local church, the canonical dependence on Constantinople was abolished, and the metropolis was renamed from Kiev to Moscow.

The collapse of the Byzantine Empire, four years after the Union has led to the fact that all four of the Orthodox Patriarchate - Constantinople, Alexandria, Jerusalem, Antioch - were ruled by the Ottoman Empire, and they were allowed to do what allowed the Turkish sultans. Simultaneously, the Grand Duchy of Moscow became the strongest and most populated state in the Orthodox world.

The establishment of the Moscow Patriarchate after this was only a matter of time, and it was the result of the strengthening of the position of the Russian state and the result of a multi-way intrigue, which Boris Godunov, who was in fact ruling at that time, successfully implemented. The Patriarch of Constantinople, Jeremiah II, who took over the throne after the overthrow of his predecessor, Theolip, by the Turkish sultan, was in an almost desperate situation: the Ottomans even took the patriarchal cathedral under the mosque. In these circumstances, the patriarch, heard of the generous gifts of Tsar Fyodor Ioannovich to the Eastern hierarchs, was not difficult to entice to Moscow. There, the tsar and Godunov pointed out to him the incorrectness of the situation, in which the Russian church was crowned only by the metropolitan pulpit. Jeremiah began to bargain: so precious goods could be sold only once. After an emphatically kindly official reception, the patriarch was released for lunch and .... "Forgot" about him - for several months, banning to leave the capital. He could not stand the waiting and agreed .... become a patriarch of the Russian Church. Fedor Ivanovich and the Godunov idea seemed to be approved, but .... offered him to settle in Vladimir, because in Moscow de already has a Metropolitan Job. Finally, Jeremiah let himself be persuaded.

26 January 1589 year in the Assumption Cathedral was put the first Russian patriarch - Job. In the Council's charter charter legalizing the patriarchate, it was announced that "the old Rome fell from heresy", the new Rome-Constantinople-was enslaved by the godless tribes Agarharian (ie Muslims), and therefore the third Rome is Moscow. Jeremiah went home with a rich alms for the construction of churches. But the official conciliar agreement of all the other Eastern patriarchates was required. The consent was received, which required additional expenses from the Russian treasury. Four major Russian departments were transformed into a metropolis. The only thing that could not be achieved for the Moscow Patriarchate - a high place in the hierarchy of Orthodox churches, it was the youngest as the fifth. But in fact since then the ROC was the most numerous and influential Orthodox church.

Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople after the fall of the Orthodox world belonged to a primacy of honor, but not the administrative power. He was the first among his peers Primates of other sovereign local churches. Substantive content of the championship was determined by consensus.

But 1920-ies in the circles of the Patriarchate of Constantinople spread the concept, according to which the entire Orthodox diaspora should be subject to the Patriarch of Constantinople, which has not only a primacy of honor, but also the primacy of power, which allows it to intervene in the internal affairs of other Churches. This concept is also called oriental Popery. Did not escape these trends and modern Patriarchate of Constantinople.

Patriarch Bartholomew I (in the world Dimitrios Arhondonis), who recently turned 76 years old, born on the Turkish island of Imvros, he studied at the Theological School of Halki Island (Heybeliada), after which he was tonsured and deacon's orders. He served in the Turkish army, in 1960-ies he studied at the Pontifical Oriental Institute in Rome, in the Swiss Ecumenical Institute in Bossey, and the University of Munich. He received his doctorate at the Gregorian University in Rome.

Bartholomew became 232-m in the ancient bishop of Constantinople. His title - Archbishop of Constantinople - New Rome and Ecumenical Patriarch. In its immediate jurisdiction of only a few thousand Greek Orthodox today, living in Turkey, as well as the much more numerous Greek Orthodox diocese in the Diaspora, especially - in the United States.

In recent decades, the ROC and many other Orthodox churches were uneasy relations with Constantinople, which greatly delayed the practical work on the preparation of the Pan-Orthodox Council. It was still September 1961 year, when I took Rhodes Pan-Orthodox Conference, - Pan-Orthodox Pre-Council at meetings and meetings of inter-Orthodox preparatory commissions. There was a ten-year break - with 1999 2009 for the year - cause complications in the relations between Moscow and Constantinople patriarchates.

Bartholomew is not without reason, been suspected of trying to invade the canonical territory of the Russian Orthodox Church, as well as susceptibility to ecumenism and the newfangled trends of that part of the world where practiced mainly Protestantism and Catholicism.

In 1995 was even rupture of Eucharistic communion occurred (a joint service of the Liturgy) between the two churches because of the establishment of the Patriarchate of Constantinople jurisdiction in Estonia that the Russian Orthodox Church considers part of its canonical territory. From Moscow, sounded a warning about the non-interference of Constantinople in the church situation in Ukraine, to which Bartholomew pushed a number of Ukrainian politicians.

Held in October 2008 in Istanbul meeting the Primates of the local Orthodox Churches has made possible the resumption of cooperation in the preparation of the cathedral. Relations between the two patriarchates were finally resumed in full format in July 2009, after his visit to Istanbul, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill. In May 2010 years, visiting Russia, Bartholomew said that together with Patriarch Kirill, they decided to "speed up the process of convening the Holy Great Council of the Orthodox Church."

The decision to organize it - in 2016 year - was made at a meeting of the Primates of the local Orthodox Churches in early March 2014, in St. George's Cathedral in Istanbul. At the same time we agreed that "all decisions in both the Council and the preparatory stages are taken by consensus."

Initially, the Cathedral was planned in the Istanbul church of St. Irene. However, after the well-known events - a sharp aggravation of Turkish-Russian relations - at the insistence of the ROC the place had to be changed. The priests of the local Orthodox Churches who gathered in January of 2016 in Chambesi (a suburb of Geneva) decided to collect the Holy and Great Cathedral from 18 on 27 June 2016 on the Greek island of Crete, also under the jurisdiction of the Patriarch of Constantinople (at the Cretan Orthodox Academy). On the Cathedral should arrive on 24 bishop from each of 14-ti Local Orthodox Churches. At the same time, the All-Orthodox Secretariat and the Organizing Committee of the Council were established. At the suggestion of the Russian Orthodox Church, they agreed to publish drafts of catholic documents for wide discussion by believers.

The cathedral is not in its status Universal. In contrast to the ancient Ecumenical Councils, he will not consider dogmatic, canonical order and liturgy. The issues of discussion topics such as the relationship of the Orthodox Church with the rest of the Christian world, fasting, marriage, the church's mission in the modern world, pastoral care of the Orthodox Diaspora.

The position of the Russian Orthodox Church in connection with the Council has been extremely open. In April, the Synod has determined the composition of its delegation. Projects of all the conciliar documents have been made public in advance. 19 April Moscow Saint Tikhon's Orthodox University hosted a conference with their discussion. Based on its results have been formulated and submitted amendments to the draft two fundamental documents: "The relationship of the Orthodox Church with the rest of the Christian world" and "Mission of the Orthodox Church in the modern world." Transparent remained discussion in recent weeks.

However, unexpectedly for many tangles of problems that must necessarily be resolved before the Council began, it began to grow rapidly, questioning its successful conduct. The drafts of conciliar documents evoke remarks from the episcopate, clergy and laity of the Russian Church. The Council's order, proposed in Chambésy, was not signed by the delegation of the Antiochian Patriarchate. The draft document "The Sacrament of Marriage and Obstacles to It" raised objections from the delegations of the Antiochian and Georgian Patriarchates. Nothing has been done to try to reconcile the differences between the Antiochian and Jerusalem Patriarchates over the issue of ecclesiastical jurisdiction over Qatar and the resulting lack of eucharistic communion between them. But in the first place criticism from the hierarchs of many local churches was subjected to the documents "Relations of the Orthodox Church with the rest of the Christian world" and "Mission of the Orthodox Church in the modern world."

Patriarch Kirill, who was most interested in the success of the Council, suggested in February that he immediately begin to agree on these issues within the framework of the All-Orthodox Secretariat, but he did not receive the support of Bartholomew. Right after the meeting in Chambesi, the ROC appointed its representatives to the secretariat and to the Organizing Committee, however, despite repeated reminders, they were deigned to be invited to work only from 7 June, when only 10 days remained before the opening of the cathedral. The Secretariat met only twice to discuss primarily technical issues. The proposals to work out disputable issues in the documents of the Council before its opening were rejected.

In late May-early June, a number of local Orthodox churches made public statements calling into question the fundamental possibility of the Council to the previously agreed terms and reaching consensus on the substantive agenda items.

25 May the Synod of the Georgian Orthodox Church determined that significant changes should be made to the documents of the Council. If they "will not be taken into account and included in the text of the document, the Georgian Church does not find it possible to sign it." On the same day, the Council of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church drew attention to the shortcomings in the draft regulations of the Council, and raised questions about the status of the bishops at the Council, the need to consider the topic of autocephaly and the way it was proclaimed (which the ROC insisted along with other churches) on the introduction of clarifications in the submitted documents. The Bishops' Council of the Hellas Orthodox Church also proposed amendments and additions. The Holy Mountain Cinema of Mount Athos sent a message to Bartholomew saying that "some places in the pre-script texts need clarification in order to more clearly express the age-old tradition of the holy fathers and the catholic legacy of the Church." 27 May 2016, the Synod of the Church of Antioch introduced amendments that it deemed necessary to "find the final ecclesiastical resolution of the conflict with the Jerusalem Patriarchate."

It would seem that the concerns expressed by the most authoritative Orthodox churches, they are recognized as valid by tens of millions of believers and in need of the most serious consideration and respect. And what do you think?
31 May the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Constantinople proposed to establish a "bilateral commission of representatives of these Churches under the coordinating role of the Ecumenical Patriarchate" to study the problem in the relations between the Antiochian and Jerusalem Patriarchates and find a mutually acceptable solution "immediately after the Holy and Great Council". To this, the Church of Antioch replied that "the call to postpone the solution of this problem until the end of the Holy and Great Council nullifies the goal of holding the Council, which is intended to become an expression of Orthodox unity," and "jeopardizes the holding of the Holy and Great Council on the scheduled dates. This has been repeatedly warned by the Church of Antioch. "

A 1 June Synod of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, pointing to the absence on the agenda of the Council are important for Orthodoxy in opposition to the text of a number of documents, the inability to change them during the work of the Council, proposed to postpone the meeting. Otherwise, the Bulgarian Church refused to participate in it.

In connection with this, the Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church 3 June suggested, probably the only possible way out of the situation: to hold an all-Orthodox pre-council meeting urgently "to consider the current situation and study the amendments submitted by the local Orthodox churches to the conciliar documents in order to develop agreed proposals." Moreover, it should be done no later than June of the year, that "the Orthodox churches can make a judgment on the possibility of holding the All-Orthodox Cathedral on schedule." It is clear that the coordination of texts is the work of working groups and specially appointed representatives. Clashes of positions in the presence of priests of churches, numerous hierarchs, journalists, television cameras, observers, invited persons are not the most successful way to demonstrate the all-Orthodox unity. The pre-council meeting could delay the convocation of the Council, but still not break it, which would be a great blow to all of Orthodoxy.

However, the synod of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, which met in Istanbul on 7 June, in fact rejected this proposal, preferring to continue preparations in the planned mode. It was stated that "the revision of the already planned conciliar process goes beyond all the institutional framework." That is why the primate of the churches will present their proposals with a view to finalizing and making decisions during the work of the Council. The essence of the decision is very clear: do not conduct additional consultations on comments submitted by local churches to draft documents. The Council's regulations can not be changed. There is nothing more to discuss. The "institutional framework", and in fact the opinion of Bartholomew, is more important than trust and the desire to reach agreement, without which the Council can not be successful, if at all. After the refusal to participate in the Cathedral of one of the 14 churches deprives him of the status of the All-Orthodox.

Alarmed voice rang out that "Constantinople Orthodox Church is trying to establish a dictatorship in relations with other 13 Local Orthodox Churches." What Constantinople not only feels entitled to collect the Pan-Orthodox Cathedral, but also tends to arrogate to itself the right of universal jurisdiction, the right to grant and take away autocephalous, manage any Orthodox Church.
At the same time, rather than to sit down at the negotiating table, the Patriarchate of Constantinople came into play ambition and uncovered an instrument of policy. In addition to its publications unprecedented tone of offensive attacks against the independent and self-governing local churches sounded painfully familiar to us the theme of "hand of Moscow". Allegedly, this is the ROC "muddying the waters" rather than believers and local churches have expressed their concerns.
It is not an expert and I can not go into the question of dogmatic and canonical tradition. But it is impossible not to see that in the desire to separate the Orthodox is big politics those who want to weaken the largest Orthodox country - and most authoritative Russian Orthodox Church - the Russian Orthodox Church.

Among the documents released by WikiLeaks in his time, was recording the conversation and Bartholomew with US Senator Durbin. The Patriarch then confided: "If the Ecumenical Patriarchate will lose its traditional location in Istanbul, the Russian Orthodox Church will be able to realize their claims on the management of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and to become the leader of the entire Orthodox Church. Patriarchy in need of protection to withstand the humiliation on the part of Ankara and Russian ambitions. "

Russia is under pressure on all possible lines. Economic - unlawful discriminatory measures, shamefully called sanctions, have been introduced against our country. Military - the military machine of the United States and its NATO allies is being brought to the borders of our country. Informational - there is an unprecedented global attack against our country in the Western media. Events in Ukraine clearly demonstrated that in the struggle for the minds and souls of people, the American curators of Kiev played a huge role for the schismatics from the so-called " UOC-Kyiv Patriarchate. Uncovered persecution of the adherents of the Russian Orthodox Church in Ukraine has intensified.

Flattering external forces, so interested in weakening and splitting of Orthodoxy, Patriarch of Constantinople not only takes a huge sin and undermines its own credibility. He risks remain forever without the support of those living churches that still see it the first among equals. Stay general without an army. Whose rank of general is too little cost.

If there is no agreement, it is necessary to reach those in the few days that remain before the opening of the Pan-Orthodox Council. We need to hear and to negotiate, rather than trying to shout to achieve obedience of other churches.

And the Orthodox is to pray that the Lord has inspired His All Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew genuine consciousness of responsibility for the unity of the Orthodox Church.

A source: Expert Online

Author: Vyacheslav Nikonov, Chairman of the Board of Fund "Russian World"

Tags: Religion, Christianity, Analytics, Russian Orthodox Church