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“The issue of Autocephaly is a ecclesiastical event and not an aspect of politics”

Address by the Ecumenical Patriarch, celebrating his Name Day, after the Divine Liturgy at the Patriarchal Church, attended by the Metropolitan of Kiev and all Ukraine and representatives of the Autocephalous Churches

“If the Ecumenical Patriarchate were acting upon the basis of non-ecclesiastical criteria, it would wait for the outcome of the presidential elections in Ukraine. But the issue of Autocephaly is an ecclesiastical event and not an aspect of politics,” Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew pointed out, referring to the granting of Autocephaly to the Church of Ukraine in his address at the Patriarchal Church after the Divine Liturgy, which he celebrated today, Tuesday, June 11, for the feast of the Holy Apostles Bartholomew and Barnabas, the day he celebrates his Name Day.

“The greatest ecclesiastical event during this period was the grant by the Ecumenical Throne, due to various divisions, of Autocephaly to the Church of Ukraine. This was a product of the loving and pastoral care of the Mother Church to the pious Ukrainian people. We have no other motive in this initiative, and contrary reports on the Internet and elsewhere not only do not have a trace of truth, but deliberately distort reality; they are ‘fake news,’” said His All-Holiness, who welcomed His Eminence Epiphanios, the Metropolitan of Kiev and all Ukraine, and his Holy Synod, congratulating him “for his loyalty to the Mother Church and for his good struggle for ecclesiastical matters in Ukraine.”

“This celebration is always a time of remembrance and memory,” the Ecumenical Patriarch noted, adding that he always remembers and commemorates with gratitude all those to whom he owed, “after God, everything: life and well-being, upbringing and education, love for learning and for the Church, and for nature, the outdoors, and for theological education, the fear of God and the encouragement to the path to the priesthood.

“Our vision and hope, when we entered the sacred lot of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, was ecclesiastical ministry. The quintessence of the priesthood is the ministry of God and man, his earthly life and his heavenly destination, self-offering, and humility. We belong to Christ,” he said, and at another point he referred to the mission of the Church in the modern world:

“In our time, the Church gives its God-loving and philanthropic testimony to the great religious, anthropological and moral, cultural, technological, and economic challenges, against the multiform threats against the sacredness of the human person. Within the economically-centric global society and ‘market pervasiveness,’ the Church’s speech is a message of brotherhood and solidarity. In the field of solidarity our faith is tested today. It does not find ‘inexpressible devotion’ and self-satisfied spirituality persuasive. We always point out ‘the neighbor’ to our brothers in practice, specifically and personally. The Church performs its service as a positive challenge and alternative life proposition, which is based on the unbreakable unity of faith in God and love for our fellow human beings. It has to show community spirit over individualism, ascetic simplicity and the eucharistic use of the world over hedonism and consumerism, justice over social insensitivity and injustice, the peace of cultures and religions over the ‘conflict of cultures’ and religious fundamentalism. On the basis of the evangelical ethos we can live in the world, without destroying it, and coexist without limiting the freedom of one another.

“We glorify the God who loves mankind for what He has bestowed upon His holy Church and to us personally in the past year since last year’s congregation here on our Name Day, strengthening our humble ecclesiastical ministry. We are pleased to note that the initiatives of the Ecumenical Patriarchate are bearing fruit and highlight the power of Orthodox witness over the signs of the times.”

The speech of His All-Holiness was preceded by the address of the Metropolitan Konstantinos Geron of Nikaia, on behalf of the Hierarchy of the Throne.

The Metropolitan Epiphanios of Kiev and all Ukraine expressed to the Ecumenical Patriarch his warmest wishes personally, as well as those of the Hierarchy and the Sacred Clergy of the Autocephalous Church of Ukraine and the faithful people of his country. He again thanked His All-Holiness for all his self-sacrifice and what he had done for the sake of the righteousness and unity of the Orthodox Church as a whole, and in particular for the Orthodox Church of Ukraine.

“All of us who are present here today belong to various autocephalous local Churches and yet are all a Great Church of Christ, we have the salvific Orthodox Faith, we strive daily to experience the contemporary world of the Holy Scriptures and follow the unified rules of the Synods and the holy Fathers. And although the stormy waves of the present era, as we see, strive to unbalance the one ship of the Church, we believe that thanks to the wise guidance from Your All-Holiness, as well as that of our brothers the primates of the Autocephalous Orthodox Churches, this ship is headed to the tranquil cove of peace and mutual love.”

Then, the warm wishes of the Church in Israel and its primate, the Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilus, were delivered by his representative to the Feast and Commissioner of the Holy Sepulcher in the City, Archbishop Anthimos Nektarios.

There were present Hierarchs of the Ecumenical Throne; the Deputy Foreign Minister Markos Bolaris as representative of the Greek government; the Deputy Foreign Minister of Ukraine Vasyl Bodnar, as representative of the new President of Ukraine; the Ambassador of Greece to Ankara, Petros Mavroidis; the Ambassador of Ukraine to Ankara, Andrii Sybiha; the MP George Koumoutsakos, as representative of the President of the New Democracy; the General Consuls of Greece and Ukraine in the City, Mrs. Georgia Sultanopoulou and Mr. Oleksandr Gaman; the official Archons of the Holy Great Church of Christ; clergy, monks and nuns; students of schools of the homeland; and many faithful from the City and pilgrims from abroad.

Immediately thereafter, His All-Holiness received, in the Patriarchal office, greetings from the Hierarchs of the Throne in the City, and then from the Patriarchal Court under His Eminence Protosyngellos Andreas.

Then a meeting was held with His Beatitude Epiphanios, Metropolitan of Kiev and all Ukraine and his Holy Synod, where they again had the opportunity to express to His All-Holiness their cordial wishes and gratitude for the actions of the Ecumenical Throne in favor of their Church.

He then received the blessing for many and very fruitful years from a large delegation from the Holy Provincial Synod of the semi-autonomous Church in Crete.

“The Holy Apostle and your Patron Saint Patriarch Bartholomew was crucified. And you are constantly crucified by human weakness and the many problems that arise, especially beyond your immediate jurisdiction. Therefore, ‘great one of the Ecumenical Throne and highest Hierarch,’ we find that the life of your patron saint is a parallel of your life, as the Metropolitan of Kydonia and Apokoronas pointed out in his address, and at another point he pointed out: ‘Your All-Holiness, you wrote on October 22, 2016, that the role of the Patriarchate is not political and will never be. And so it is that, as the Mother Church, through your consecrated predecessors, has often preached martyrdom despite the protection of the Patriarch, and death for the flock despite the Patriarch’s life.’”

His All-Holiness also welcomed, during successive private audiences, Deputy Foreign Minister Markos Bolaris from the Greek government, and MEP Giorgos Koumoutsakos, on behalf of the President of the New Democracy and Head of the Foreign Affairs section of the opposition.

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