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Ecumenical Patriarch: “The responsibilities of our Throne are not negotiable. They cannot be surrendered. And they cannot be disposed.”

His All-Holiness, who celebrated his name day on June 11th, referred to the special responsibilities “which the sanctified practice and theological approach of the Holy Fathers entrusted to us, and specifically to the Church of Constantinople.”

“From this martyr Throne, we feel a firm sense of sacred obligation as we minister the affairs of the holy Church by means of our works and words, as a result of the special responsibilities which the sanctified practice and theological approach of the Holy Fathers entrusted to us, and specifically to Constantinople.” These are some of the points emphasized by His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew in his address after the Divine Liturgy, over which he presided from the Throne on Friday, June 11th, 2021, at the Holy Patriarchal Church, on the occasion of the feast commemorating the Holy Apostles Bartholomew and Barnabas, when he celebrates his name-day.

“We have, and we recognize that we have a singular responsibility among the Orthodox as Archbishop of Constantinople. There are those who consider these as privileges, which is why they envy the apparent glory of the resurrection, while overlooking the Golgotha of serving the Truth at any cost. We do not enter into dialogue about that which is self-evident and handed down to us by our forefathers. The responsibilities of our Throne are not negotiable. They cannot be surrendered. And they cannot be disposed.

We will not allow any alienation from the blessed ecclesiology as clearly described in the documents of our history. We will not permit condescension, economia, courtesy, certain friendly concessions and actions of the previous century, initiated by some of our predecessors in the hope of unity, but unfortunately far removed from the authentic and ancient ecclesiology.

We will not allow them to overturn everything sacred that God’s providence has erected for the Throne of Constantinople. Constantinople is tantamount to sacrifice, responsibility, unceasing self-offering. But it does not amount to a chess-piece in the passing interests and opportunistic intentions of every historical circumstance,” the Ecumenical Patriarch underlined.

Present along with His All-Holiness were Their Eminences the Hierarchs Emmanuel, Geron of Chalcedon, Apostolos, Geron of Derkon, Demetrios, Geron of the Princes’ Islands, Germanos of Tranoupolis, Meliton of Philadelphia, Irenaios of Myriophytos and Peristasis, Chrysostomos of Myra, Nikitas of Thyateira and Great Britain, Gennadios of Sassima, Theoleptos of Iconium, Eugenios of Rethymnon and Avlopotamos, Stefanos of Kallioupolis and Madytos, Arsenios of Austria, Athenagoras of Kydonia, Maximos of Selyvria, Makarios of Australia, Gerasimos of Petra and Herronisos, Kyrillos of Imvros and Tenedos, Chrysostomos of Symi, Andreas of Saranta Ekklisies, Joachim of Bursa, Efstratios of Chernihiv and Nizhyn, and Melchizedek of Margveti and Ubisa.

Also gathered were Hierarchs of the Ecumenical Throne, Delegations of the Autocephalous Churches of Cyprus and Ukraine, under Their Eminences Metropolitan Vasilios of Constantia and Famagusta as well as Ioasaf of Ivano-Frankivsk and Galicia respectively, Abbots from Mount Athos, clerics, monks and nuns, Archon Officers of the Ecumenical Throne, the Deputy Foreign Minister of Greece, His Excellency Konstantinos Vlasis, the Ambassador of Greece in Ankara, His Excellency Michael-Christos Diamesis, the former Deputy Minister, Mr. Antonis Diamataris, the Consuls General of Greece and Ukraine in Istanbul, Mrs. Georgia Sultanopoulou and Mr. Oleksandr Gaman, community leaders, students of the Great Patriarchal School of the Nation, together with their Principal and teachers, faithful from the City and pilgrims from abroad.


The address of the Ecumenical Patriarch

Beloved brother Hierarchs and very dear children in the Lord,

Every time we recite the Creed and mention that we believe in one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church, we remember the holy Apostles, who “from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word,” disseminating throughout all the world of that time the message and teaching of Christ, bearing witness to His resurrection and proclaiming the kingdom of God.

On the life and work of the Apostles, at our recommendation, a masterful work was written and published by the Archon Teacher of the Gospel, Professor Christos Voulgaris, entitled “The Twelve Disciples and Apostles of Jesus Christ.” These are the pillars of the Church until the second coming of Christ. The living transmission of their experience as eyewitnesses of the Word, the transmission of a lived experience, is the well-understood Tradition of our Church.

One of them, Bartholomew, Bar-Tolmai, the son of Tholomaios, is honored today in the Orthodox Church, together with one of the seventy, Barnabas, patron saint of Cyprus, in whose name His Beatitude our most beloved brother Archbishop Chrysostomos II built a glorious Cathedral Church in Nicosia, which is being consecrated today by him and His Beatitude Archbishop Ieronymos II of Athens and All Greece among the enthusiastic and pious Cypriot people. To both Their Beatitudes, our brothers and concelebrants, we address from this sacred Center of holy Orthodoxy a heartfelt embrace and greeting, invoking on them and their beloved sister Churches the grace and protection of the Lord Ascended in glory, through the intercessions of our patron saints, the Apostles celebrated today.

Together with the two aforementioned Churches and the other local Churches, we will continue, by God’s mercy, the life and witness of “Orthodoxy in dialogue” led by the First See of Constantinople, as the late Ignatios of Antioch firmly reiterated and emphasized during the Synaxis of the Primates in the Phanar in 2008. The same erudite Patriarch, in a Letter to us of December 1994, referred to the intention of the then-Patriarch of Jerusalem to organize a concelebration of the Orthodox Primates in Bethlehem at Christmas of 2000, adding: “This proposal is strange, because it comes from the Patriarchate of Jerusalem!” With an exclamation point at the end. Let those who are able to understand, understand.

Moreover, when this same Ignatius of Antioch wanted to send a Hierarch from his Church to Paris in order to serve the religious needs of the Arabic-speaking faithful there, he requested the permission of the Ecumenical Patriarchate; and after receiving the consent of the latter, he sent Gabriel of Palmyra—not “of Paris” or “of France” or “of Western Europe,” but “of Palmyra.” This is how elders and wise leaders act, respecting the canons and order of the Church, which is why Orthodoxy had greater unity and fewer problems.

From this martyr Throne, we feel a firm sense of sacred obligation as we minister the affairs of the holy Church by means of our works and words, as a result of the special responsibilities which the sanctified practice and theological approach of the Holy Fathers entrusted to us, and specifically to Constantinople. We have, and we recognize that we have a singular responsibility among the Orthodox as Archbishop of Constantinople.

There are those who consider these as privileges, which is why they envy the apparent glory of the resurrection, while overlooking the Golgotha of serving the Truth at any cost.

We do not enter into dialogue about that which is self-evident and handed down to us by our forefathers. The responsibilities of our Throne are not negotiable. They cannot be surrendered. And they cannot be disposed.

We will not allow any alienation from the blessed ecclesiology as clearly described in the documents of our history. We will not permit condescension, economia, courtesy, certain friendly concessions and actions of the previous century, initiated by some of our predecessors in the hope of unity, but unfortunately far removed from the authentic and ancient ecclesiology. We will not allow them to overturn everything sacred that God’s providence has erected for the Throne of Constantinople.

Constantinople is tantamount to sacrifice, responsibility, unceasing self-offering. But it does not amount to a chess-piece in the passing interests and opportunistic intentions of every historical circumstance. This is what we received from our Fathers; this is what they in turn received from their own Fathers; this is what those Fathers received from the hands of the Apostles; and this is why we return to our beloved Apostle, whose name we were honored to receive during our ordination to the diaconate exactly sixty years ago.

Glory be to God for this new name of ours and for the many decades since then, during which we endeavored as a clergyman of the Crucified Great Church to bear witness near and afar to the suffering of Christ and to His Resurrection, struggling relentlessly and tirelessly but also, we hope, fruitfully, together with those who are with us in this venerable and sacred place, always invoking and receiving the divine mercy and heavenly enlightenment expressed in the words of our saintly predecessor Gennadios Scholarios: “O Christ, you are my helper and the Master of all.”

Brothers and children in the Lord,

Beyond the Apostle Bartholomew, who preached the Gospel to the Indians, the so-called blissful ones, and contributed to the founding of the Armenian Church; and along with St. Barnabas, the son of consolation, whose Synaxis used to celebrated in the mission of the chief apostle, St. Peter, located beside the Most Holy Great Church, today our Church also celebrates the Synaxis of the Archangel Gabriel in Adin, with the well-known miracle of that took place in the Axion Estin cell of Pantokratoros Monastery on Mount Athos. Since then we chant the extremely dignified angelic hymn to the Mother of God: “It is truly right to bless you, Theotokos, ever blessed, most pure, and Mother of our God,” which adorns the hymnology of our Church.

But there is more. The memory of the confessor and physician Luke, Bishop of Simferopol, also magnifies the glory and blessing of our Lady the Theotokos on this glorious day of June 11th. St. Luke perfectly combined the white gown with the black cassock, as his biography characteristically notes. He was an unmercenary doctor, persecuted for his faith, who he lived for eleven years in bitter exile and prison. And for this new Saint of ours, whom the Mother Church of Constantinople recorded in the hagiological register at the prudent proposal and recommendation of our brother His Beatitude Epiphaniy, Metropolitan of Kyiv and All Ukraine, and the Most Holy Church of Ukraine, the sacred hymnography observes the following Kontakion: “You have dawned as the sun, after the night of deep persecution; wherefore you pour out the spiritual warmth of God to those in affliction, O blessed and all-venerable Luke.”

May the grace of all these Saints of the Church who are honored today accompany us on every day of our lives, which “let us commend to Christ of God.”

We at the Phanar also recall the relevance  of our great predecessor, Joachim III the Great, who was enthroned on this day, the eleventh of June, 120 years ago, to commence his second patriarchal tenure. Vafeochorion boasts his birthplace, as do the Eparchies of Varna and Thessaloniki, the Great Church of Christ and our whole Nation, with all of Orthodoxy, for the bold initiatives of unity that he undertook. May his prayer be heard by God and accompany us from the beyond.

Your Eminences and Your Graces, brother Hierarchs and other distinguished clergy, Your Excellencies and Most Honorable Archons, our dear and beloved spiritual children,

We truly and wholeheartedly thank you for your gracious and friendly attendance and prayers on our name-day, for your honor and love toward your Ecumenical Patriarch who is celebrating. We reciprocate by embracing our brothers and blessing our children.

We especially thank you, most holy and venerable Emmanuel of Chalcedon, for your address that was replete with noble sentiments and, on this occasion, we also express our congratulations for your recent unanimous elevation to the throne of the historic Geron Metropolis of Chalcedon.

We are grateful to the Commissioner of the Holy Sepulcher, our dear brother His Eminence Archbishop Nektarios of Anthidon, who brings the festive wishes of the Church of Jerusalem and His Beatitude its Primate, as well as to our brother Melchizedek of the Most Holy Church of Georgia. Furthermore, we warmly welcome the official delegation of the Most Holy Church of Cyprus, consisting of the Most Reverend Metropolitan Vasilios of Constantia and Famagusta and the Very Reverend Chief Secretary Georgios, and through them the one who commissioned them, His Beatitude the Archbishop of New Justiniana and All Cyprus, who not for the first time is honoring in this way our name-day.

In addition, we convey our gratitude to His Beatitude Metropolitan Epiphaniy of Kyiv and All Ukraine, who recently also celebrated his name-day, for kindly sending an official Delegation of the newly-established Church, led by His Eminence Metropolitan Ioasaf of Ivano-Frankivsk. We deeply appreciate their noble fraternal gesture.

What can we say about the holy brotherhood here, which ministers with us day and night, zealously guarding the holy and sacred treasure of our faith and of our people together with their Patriarch as the leader of our people and Nation? Along with us, these fellow Cyrenaean brothers foresee, anticipate, and protect. Together with us, their Patriarch, they remain, endure, and persevere. The duty is heavy. It is no small feat for centuries to belong to you, as the poet would say. Yes! We are few – and certainly we are not to blame for this. But there is no reason to despair (non desperandum est)! “For God is resourceful . . . and out of desperation, He is capable of bringing us to salvation,” St. Chrysostom encourages us. We are few today, but “this number is also capable” of sharing the hope of the Resurrection even among those who persecute the Great Church, about which only a few days ago the President of the Republic of Poland, in his visit here, said that it is a beacon that dispels darkness and spreads light, the light of Christ, which shines upon all. Our Ecumenical Patriarchate is indeed a brilliant beacon (phanar) that radiates the light of Christ in all His dominion.

Dear brethren and expatriate sons and daughters, who have traveled distances to come and celebrate and share the joy of your Ecumenical Patriarch on his feast-day, we thank you with all our heart. You strengthen us with your love, with your prayer and with your good wishes, which we know are spontaneous and sincere. This is what led your steps to the courtyards of this great Monastery of the Double Light (Diplophanarion). Welcome!

Honorable fellow-celebrant Hierarchs, who have arrived “from the west and the north, by sea and land” (Paschal Canon, Ode 8), who direct the ships and nets of your sacred Eparchies to safe harbors, we ask that you accept our grateful sentiments and convey the precious blessing of the nurturing Mother Church to your spiritual children, who are blessed to have you as their loving pastors.

Your Excellencies the representatives of State, headed by our very dear Deputy Foreign Minister of Greece Mr. Konstantinos Vlasis, a most excellent physician, as we are accustomed here to addressing the healers of the science of Hippocrates: we thank you, not just formally and conventionally, but gratefully and heartfully. Never doubt how much we pray in our sacred Center for God to strengthen you because we know that your public service is very difficult and responsible, especially under the burdensome conditions created by the coronavirus pandemic.

We also address our paternal thanks to our Patriarchal Court, for which we boast in the Lord, both for the participation of its members in the joy of the name-day of the Abbot of the Monastery of their repentance, as well as for their faithful and devoted service. After the grievously unjust suspension of the operation of our alma mater, the Theological School of Halki, in order to fill the vacuum we invited new and hopeful clergymen, appropriate for service, from various Eparchies of the Throne, who gradually rise in the ranks of the ecclesiastical hierarchy, becoming fellow administrators of the Mother Church and, when the fullness of time arrives, handing over the baton to their successors – so that the life of the Church continues.

The divine nobility of the crucified Great Church of Christ continues. “Living organisms do not die. They are transformed.” And the Church, as one such organism, is also called to transform the world.

We bless with thanks our children of light here, the small flock that surrounds and prayerfully supports its Patriarch in his care for all the Churches that consumes his heart.

Clergy and laity united, then, let us advance chanting glory to the giver of life and “looking toward the author and finisher of the faith, Jesus,” “never straying from duty.” “Nothing is loose or fluid in the Church, but everything is tightly held together for the sake of piety” (Cyril of Alexandria).

Therefore, brethren and children in the Lord, “Farewell, mend your ways, heed my appeal, agree with one another, live in peace, and the God of love and peace will be with you.” (2 Corinthians 13:11).


Prior to this, His All-Holiness was addressed on behalf of the sacred Hierarchy by His Eminence Metropolitan Emmanuel, Geron of Chalcedon:

“The human Body is at the Right Hand of the Father, and we are shaken by a pandemic! The sweetest Lord has made everything new, and we continue the Pharisaic tactic of seeking the earthly glory of a Messiah, which is why we are troubled by the meek and humble heart of Jesus. We scarcely comprehend the glory of the martyrs acquired in arenas, martyrdoms, and ways of the beasts. We venerate the glory of those beyond death as a glory that triumphs over those whom we consider our enemies. We have abandoned the Lord alone, alone in His sweat like drops of blood, in the agony of demonic death, and instead we zealously surround ourselves with a religion based solely on the scepters of power.

“Not we, Your All-Holiness! Because we have been taught by your Apostolic example, from your life and conduct. We have learned from the one that teaches with strength and with his deeds that the great Martyr of the revealed Truth, the Great Church of Christ, grows in responsibilities and not ultimately in privileges. We have learned that it is more important to remain in the communion of the Church rather than insisting on sterile form. We have learned that it is a good thing to hold steadfastly to the traditions, but it is better to follow in the footsteps of our Fathers. We have learned that it is good to be engaged in missionary activity, but when this is not in accordance with the ecclesiology and mind of the Church, it is reduced to utter and empty religiosity, to deterioration, as well as to sin and incalculable damage.

For all these things, for those things that we know and do not know, the venerable Hierarchy of this Throne offers you its heartfelt thanks and congratulations. And we assume this glorious day as an occasion to highlight in its See the descent and dwelling of the Paraklete in your life and work while also praising God that ‘in the most difficult days, God provided us with the best Patriarch’” (St. Paisios the Athonite).

Afterward, the good wishes of the Greek government were conveyed by the Deputy Foreign Minister, Mr. Konstantinos Vlasis:

“48 years ago, on October 26, 1973, the Dean of the Hierarchy of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, Metropolitan Geron Meliton of Chalcedon, addressed, on his name-day, your immediate predecessor, the venerable Ecumenical Patriarch Demetrios, and described in a succinct way the meaning of the feast of a “Patriarch.” The late Meliton said: “This feast, while in principle personal [. . .], is a feast day for everyone in the Church, because the Patriarch [. . .] belongs to all and all belong to the Patriarch.” Among other things, the Deputy Foreign Minister added: “Indeed, this joyful day is an opportunity for a ‘father’ to meet with his ‘children’ throughout the world, whether in person or in prayer, and today there are many who are close to Your All-Holiness, in one way or another. Many of them are not even Orthodox, and some may not even be Christian, but still they pray for your health and longevity. And this is precisely one of the main achievements of your long patriarchy: namely, that your personality, whether through your words or through your deeds, has inspired and above all united so many different people.”

A heartfelt greeting from the President of Ukraine, His Excellency Volodymyr Zelenskyy, was read by the Consul General of Ukraine, Mr. Oleksandr Gaman, addressing His All-Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch.

Finally, good wishes to His All-Holiness were expressed, in writing and by telephone, by Church Primates, Heads of State, Prime Ministers and political authorities, Ministers, Hierarchs, religious leaders and many distinguished personalities, as well as numerous believers of all nationalities from all over the world.

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