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Monday, 5 May 2014

The Church of Antioch Has Broken Communion with the Patriarchate of Jerusalem - Resolution Objecting to the Uncanonical Interference of the Patriarchate Of Jerusalem in the Canonical Jurisdiction Of Antioch

On 30 May 2014 at the Centre for Eastern Christianity, Heythrop College, London, Dr Sotiris Roussos, director of the Centre for Mediterranean, Middle East and Islamic Studies (CEMMIS), Department of Political Studies & International Relations, in the University of the Peloponnese, gave a fascinating lecture on The Greek Orthodox Church in a turbulent Eastern Mediterranean.

In his discourse he examined the Church's lack of ability to engage with modernity in his view, how it has been compromised by relations with the state, the retreat by some leaders and clergy into theological reaction (including identification with the hard political right), and the way in which it is so losing touch with young Greek people in an increasingly secularist Europe that the link between Orthodoxy and Greek identity is not only being weakened it is being discredited. Human solidarity and mutual aid during the economic crisis, he said, had needed to work round the paternalistic structures of parishes and dioceses, just to meet people's needs quickly. To put it another way, is the Church in the way of society rather than being a lively agent serving its good and development, realising the best of humanity and its greatest aspirations, or is it in danger of making itself so irrelevant as to have no bearing anymore on what it means to be Greek - or even to have a place to speak in the public square?

What too, then, is the bearing of the Greek Orthodox Church in relation to the region - dealings with respect to Greece's relationship with Turkey, the place of the Christian Church in Turkey and Turkey's place in Europe? What is the Greek Orthodox Church's relationship with Greek citizens and residents who are Muslim, and their rights to worship and assemble freely? What is the relationship with Islam in Turkey and across the nearby Middle East? What is the bearing of the character of the Greek Church, now increasingly perceived to be inward-looking owing to its own internal crisis, towards the wider Orthodox Church it once provided leadership and support to - in Cyprus, and the consciously Greek Patriarchates of Jerusalem and Alexandria, and the more Arab-identified patriarchate, once dependent on it under the Ottomans, of Antioch? What will now determine the balance in the relationship between the Greek Orthodox Church and the tiny, but universally influential Ecumenical Patriarchate in Turkey's Istanbul-Constantinople? Furthermore, is it not the case that in the two decades ahead that the Greek Orthodox world will be defined by two radical changes: with the current shifts in Greek society and the growth of the diaspora taking on a life of its own, the Greek Orthodox Church will be predominantly north American; secondly, the identity of the Orthodox Church as the enduring Christendom of the Eastern Mediterranean will not only have decayed in Greece proper, as it once decayed in southern Italy and more recently across Anatolia - once historic stronghold territories of the Ecumenical Patrirachate, it will also have at last collapsed in Syria, the Holy Land and Egypt - the lands of the other three surviving Byzantine imperial Orthodox patriarchates of Antioch, Jerusalem and Alexandria.

Reflecting on the decision of the Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch to withdraw from the Synaxis of hierarchs effectively settling the agenda for the forthcoming Pan-Orthodox Synod, and now breaking communion with it, Dr Roussos wondered how this could be possible as both Churches were facing oblivion in their respective lands - the first as result of the collapse of civil society and Islamist onslaught, the second as a result of increasing side-lining as a Greek enclave with a diminishing constituency of Arab Orthodox in the Holy Land to support and sustain it. This comes therefore at the moment in history at which the Orthodox Church in its historic homelands needs to be united more than ever as it faces extinction, said Dr Roussos. He was not optimistic that the Churches could re-engage with each other in time to face up to the crisis for survival, or that the forthcoming Synod would not be able to achieve anything more than too little, too late.

Following the lecture, the following two news reports were received, the first from Pravmir's news service at the Moscow Patriarchate, the second from the Antiochian Patriarchate's North American Archdiocese, confirming the breach in communion, calling for the deposition of the Jerusalem patriarchate's hierarch from Qatar, and the intervention of the Ecumenical Patriarch to achieved the resolution of the dispute and the restoration of communion. The issue is that the Metropolia the covers the state of Qatar, forms part of the Patriarchate of all the East which is canonically ruled from the see of Antioch, yet the see of Jerusalem has established its own Metropolia there to serve its own canonical subjects - migrants, refugees and diaspora from the patriarchate of Jerusalem. There are very few native Orthodox in Qatar or elsewhere in the Arabian peninsula for the obvious reason that the Church was obliterated by the conquests of Islam a millennium and a half ago. Who then is entitled to establish the Church in these lands in the modern period - is the canonical view of Antioch to prevail, or the pragmatic view from the perspective of the Jerusalem see? After all, Antioch has established its own jurisdiction in the West, and regardless of the abeyant prerogatives of Rome or those of Orthodox jurisdictions already established - in England there are two kinds of jurisdictions run by Antioch, while in theory it is supposed to be that the Ecumenical Patriarchate determines the Church's provision for the whole diaspora. For that matter, there are two Russian jurisdictions, and two Constantinople-run jurisdictions, as well as Bulgarians, Romanians and Serbians. While in the UK most Orthodox jurisdictions participate in the Pan-Orthodox Assembly of Hierarchs, no such arrangement has been arrived at in respect to Qatar, which one side firmly does not believe to be a diaspora territory, but part of its own canonical territory, founded on apostolic precedent which the other is infringing.

It should be noted that it has taken a year for Antioch to formalise the breach, having hoped that it could be resolved at the Synaxis earlier this year. It should also be noted that Antioch has a reputation for conciliatory relations with the other Churches in Syria which are part of the same history of the patriarchal see of Antioch, even if it is held now by a Melkite Greek-Catholic patriarch, a Syriac Catholic patriarch, a Syro-Maronite Catholic patriarch, a Syriac Orthodox patriarch and Patriarch John himself. Indeed, Patriarch John recently visited the destroyed Aramaic town of Malloula together with the Melkite Patriarch Gregorios; he has also worked in close solidarity with his Syriac Orthodox fellow patriarch during the Syria's emergency, not least while his own brother is one of the Metropolitan bishops of Aleppo kidnapped by Islamists alongside the his Syriac Orthodox colleague on a joint pastoral visit.

We join our prayers to those of our Orthodox friends in hoping for this sad disagreement and collapse in ecclesial communion to be repaired at this period when Christianity as a whole, Orthodoxy and wider Byzantine Christianity too are all facing their greatest challenges for survival and mission in many hundreds of years.

The two reports follow now:

1. The Church of Antioch Has Broken Communion with the Patriarchate of Jerusalem

Source: Pravmir.ru

The Church of Antioch has unanimously decided to suspend communion and not to commemorate Patriarch Theophilos in the ecclesiastical diptychs.

April 30, 2014. PRAVMIR. The Holy Synod of the Church of Antioch, presided over by Patriarch John, announced on April 29 that it has officially suspended communion with the Patriarchate of Jerusalem. This has been reported by polit.ru, with reference to the website of the Patriarchate of Antioch.

The Primate of the Church of Antioch again raised the question of the canonical intrusion of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem into the Metropolia of Qatar. In his words, all meetings between the two sides have been fruitless. As a result, the Antiochian delegation refused to sign the document of agreement at the meeting of Primates in Istanbul.

Patriarch John noted that this question was not even on the agenda, despite pleas from the Antiochian Patriarchate.

“Following Patriarchate of Jerusalem’s intractable position, the Antiochian throne has unanimously decided to suspend communion and not to commemorate Patriarch Theophilos in the ecclesiastical diptychs, as it was normally done earlier. The Antiochian Patriarchate has prepared a letter for all Orthodox Churches with the rational for this decision and with a request that they pray for the unity of the Churches,” concluded the Patriarch of Antioch.

The Holy Synod of the Antiochian Patriarchate also called for an end to the hostilities in Syria and for the establishment of peaceful coexistence between Christians and Muslims in Syria, Lebanon, and other Middle Eastern countries.

Read the English translation of the report here:
Source: http://www.pravmir.com/church-antioch-broken-communion-patriarchate-jerusalem/#ixzz30qwAYw7x

2. Resolution Objecting to the Uncanonical Interference of the Patriarchate Of Jerusalem in the Canonical Jurisdiction Of Antioch

WHEREAS, the hierarchs, clergy and faithful of this God-protected Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of North America have met as the General Assembly at the 51st Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocesan Convention at Houston, Texas;

AND WHEREAS, on May 4, 2013, the Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem, without consultation, without notice and without any approval of any kind, unilaterally usurped the historical, canonical and legitimate jurisdiction of the Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch, when his Beatitude THEOPHILOS, III, Patriarch of Jerusalem and of All Palestine, consecrated the Archimandrite, Father Makarios, to the rank of Archbishop to serve the Holy Church in Qatar;

AND WHEREAS, the Holy See of Antioch, since the early Christian Period, has always had a long-standing presence in the region of Arabia, including Qatar and all Arabia and what is now known as the Gulf of Arabia;

AND WHEREAS, according to the Eighth Session of the Holy Ecumenical Synod held in Chalcedon in the year A.D. 451, the proper jurisdiction of the Holy See of Antioch was established and it was declared that "the See of the Great City of Antioch, that of St. Peter, should have the two Phoenicias and Arabia, while the See of Jerusalem should have the three Palestines" and that this decision was in fact bi-laterally agreed to by both Patriarchs, Juvenal of Jerusalem and Maximos of Antioch, and it was further declared that this jurisdictional settlement was to remain in place "for all time to come";

AND WHEREAS, in continuation of the long-standing Antiochian presence in Mesopotamia and Arabia, in 1969, the Holy Synod of Antioch, elected and installed Archbishop CONSTANTINE (Papastephanou) as Metropolitan of Baghdad, Kuwait and its Dependencies, who has since been exerting all efforts to organize and minister his archdiocese and since his installation as Metropolitan has established 11 parishes throughout his jurisdiction;

AND WHEREAS, the Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch has always possessed canonical jurisdiction over the Arabian Peninsula and "All the East";

AND WHEREAS, the recent actions of the Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem, in consecrating an archbishop in Qatar is in direct violation of the historical and canonical decisions, as mentioned above, of the Fourth Ecumenical Council held in Chalcedon in the year A.D. 451, which established the legitimate jurisdiction of the Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch;

AND WHEREAS, the Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem has committed additional acts infringing upon the jurisdiction of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America here in the United States; namely, pastoral interference leading to the division of certain parishes in California without any canonical rights to do so, acting beyond the scope of its jurisdiction;

AND WHEREAS, the Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem has committed certain similar acts of pastoral interference infringing upon the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of Chile;

AND WHEREAS, pursuant to a meeting of the Holy Synod of Antioch, held March 13, 2013, it was declared "The decision of the Jerusalem Patriarchate to establish an Archbishopric on a territory which belongs to the Holy Synod of Antioch is, without question, an illegal interference from the Jerusalem Patriarchate";

AND WHEREAS, the recent actions of the Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem has caused deep wounds in the brotherly relations between the Great Churches of Antioch and Jerusalem, and if such recent actions are not immediately rectified "will make it inevitable for the Church of Antioch to take certain actions which She is trying to avoid on account of the love that ought to govern the relationship among Orthodox Churches";

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the General Assembly of this 51st Archdiocesan Convention, duly assembled at Houston Texas from July 21-28, 2013, calls for the following actions: the immediate removal of Archimandrite Makarios from the country of Qatar; that the Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem respect and abide by the Holy Canons of the Holy Orthodox, Catholic and Apostolic Church; that the Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem cease any further infringement against the rightful prerogatives of the Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and all of its Archdioceses; and that the Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem cease interfering in the affairs of all Autocephalous Sister Churches; We appeal to the Ecumenical Patriarch, His All Holiness, Patriarch Bartholomew I, who is the spiritual father of World Orthodoxy, to return all parishes to their original jurisdictions, including those that rightfully belong to the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America and the Antiochian Archdiocese of Chile and to take all measures to re-establish normal relations between the Great Churches of Antioch and Jerusalem. Lastly, we appeal to all of our sister Autochepalous Orthodox Churches and their respective leaders to engage in this urgent issue toward a resolution which respects the canonical decision of the Eighth Session of the Holy Ecumenical Synod held in Chalcedon in the year A.D. 451 and to restore the status quo which had been in place for 15 centuries.

30 April 2014

Read online here:

Resolution Objecting to the Uncanonical Interference of the Patriarchate Of Jerusalem in the Canonical Jurisdiction Of Antioch | Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese

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