Unhappy celebration of the 30th anniversary of Pat Bartholomew’s patriarchy – UOJ – the Union of Orthodox Journalists

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Bartholomew celebrated the 30th anniversary of his election as Ecumenical Patriarch. We offer a brief analysis of the results of his patriarchal ministry.

Unhappy celebration of the 30th anniversary of Pat Bartholomew’s patriarchy – UOJ – the Union of Orthodox Journalists
Patriarch Bartholomew celebrated the 30th anniversary of his his ascension to the Ecumenical Throne. Photo: UOJ

Bartholomew celebrated the 30th anniversary of his election as Ecumenical Patriarch. We offer a brief analysis of the results of his patriarchal ministry.

On October 22, 2021, “His All-Holiness” (the official title of the head of the Phanar), Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople marked the 30th anniversary of his ascension to the Patriarchal Throne. On this day, the Divine Liturgy was celebrated in the Phanar, during which the guests congratulated Patriarch Bartholomew on this very respectable anniversary. But there were only a few of these guests: Metropolitan George of Guinea (the Patriarchate of Alexandria), Metropolitan Chrysostomos of Kyrenia (the Church of Cyprus), Metropolitan Nifon of Târgoviște (the Church of Romania) and “Archbishop” Nestor (Pysyk) of Ternopil and Kremenets from the OCU. The rest of those present are the bishops of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, the clergy, and laypeople.

Nestor Pysyk (left) and Metropolitan Nifon (right). Photo: facebook.com/ecumenicalpatriarchate

It is not difficult to see, except Metropolitan Nifon, all the few guests are representatives of those Local Orthodox Churches that, under pressure from the Phanar and American diplomats, recognized the OCU. Their presence at the celebrations is not surprising. As for Metropolitan Nifon, his arrival in the Phanar causes some bewilderment.

The biography of Metropolitan Nifon of Târgoviște is quite remarkable. In addition to the Theological Seminary of Bucharest and the University of Bucharest Theological Institute, he studied at the University of Oxford, the Anglican College in Jerusalem (Israel), the University of Geneva (Switzerland) and the Catholic University of St. Nicholas in Ottawa (Canada). He is a supporter of the ecumenical movement and an active participant in many ecumenical events, mainly as the head of the delegation of the Romanian Orthodox Church. Vladyka Nifon was appointed to the Târgoviște See almost 22 years ago.

It is interesting that this bishop represented the Romanian Church at the Amman meeting. Moreover, after Amman, he called for preparations for the Pan-Orthodox meeting. As a reminder, the meeting of the Primates and delegations of Local Orthodox Churches, initiated by Patriarch Theophilos III of Jerusalem, took place in the capital of Jordan, Amman, on February 26, 2020. The meeting was attended by Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, Patriarch Irinej of Serbia, Metropolitan Rastislav of the Czech Lands and Slovakia, as well as a delegation of the Romanian Orthodox Church led by Metropolitan Nifon of Târgoviște and a delegation of the Polish Orthodox Church led by Archbishop Avis of Lublin and Chełm. The meeting discussed the search for ways to overcome the crisis in Orthodoxy caused by the intervention of Patriarch Bartholomew in church affairs in Ukraine. Since the head of the Phanar was sharply against holding such a meeting, everyone who took part in it, including Metropolitan Nifon, could be considered by him as opponents to the Phanar’s policy. Why, in this situation, he, the only bishop of all the Local Churches, went to greet Patriarch Bartholomew is still unknown.

In any case, it is quite indicative that representatives of very few Local Churches came to congratulate the head of the Phanar on such a significant event as the 30th anniversary of the Patriarchy. Not a single primate visited Patriarch Bartholomew, who positions himself as the leader of all Orthodoxy. In addition to the aforementioned guests who came to the Phanar personally, a congratulatory letter was sent by Archbishop Anastasios of Tirana and All Albania.

But the anniversary is an excellent occasion to arrange magnificent celebrations, to invite representative delegations from most of the Local Churches and thereby show that the Patriarch of Constantinople is the leader of the Orthodox World, its most authoritative hierarch. There is no doubt that it would be so if the authority of Patriarch Bartholomew were really high among the Local Churches. But there is no more talk about it. Patriarch Bartholomew speaks a lot about the isolation of the Russian Orthodox Church, but the celebration of the 30th anniversary of the patriarchal ministry is very similar to the isolation of Patriarch Bartholomew himself.

To understand why this is happening, you need to look at the results of the activities of Patriarch Bartholomew as Primate of the Church of Constantinople. It must be admitted that there are no significant results of this activity. The main symbolic event of the Patriarchate of Bartholomew is the transformation of the Church of Hagia Sophia into a functioning mosque in 2020, against which “His All-Holiness” did not even dare to protest. This silence was very eloquent, because at that time the USA, the EU, France and other states, as well as many Local Churches (primarily the Russian Orthodox Church), came out with protests. Everyone was waiting for at least some kind of reaction from Patriarch Bartholomew, but he remained silent. Just before the very event, he said that he was “shocked”. This was regarded as cowardice and greatly damaged the reputation of the Phanar head of in the eyes of the Orthodox and Christians in general.

If we talk about the patriarchy of Bartholomew in general, then its main characteristics will be the following.

First, it is interference in the affairs of other Local Churches. Back in 2008, the influential Turkish newspaper “Cumhuriyet” published an article sharply criticizing Patriarch Bartholomew for interfering in the internal affairs of other countries – “from Cyprus to Estonia, from Jerusalem to Ukraine”. The article argued that this creates foreign policy problems for the Turkish state, since “the state of Turkey does not interfere in the internal affairs of other countries. It turns out that Patriarch Bartholomew has one position, and the state of Turkey has a different one”. This situation is indeed very controversial, since, according to Turkish law, the Patriarch of Constantinople has the rank of a civil servant. The apogee of the policy of interference of the Phanar head in the affairs of other Churches is his decision on Ukraine, in which he legalized the schismatics, and, on the contrary, recognized the canonical UOC as non-existent.

Secondly, it is, in the full sense of the word, rabid ecumenism. Patriarch Bartholomew is not only an active participant in the ecumenical movement in general but also seeks to unite with Catholics in the very near future, as he has repeatedly stated. Moreover, the main obstacle to such a union from the point of view of the head of the Phanar is not so much the dogmatic differences between Orthodoxy and Catholicism, as the question of the so-called “primacy”. It is this issue that occupies the most significant place in the negotiation process. The quintessence of Patriarch Bartholomew’s ecumenical aspirations can be considered his words spoken on the day of commemoration of the Holy Apostle Andrew the First-Called in 2020. In his sermon, Patriarch Bartholomew stated that the unification of Orthodox Christians with Catholics will take place “despite the objections of those who either belittle the value of theology or consider ecumenism utopia”.

Patriarch Bartholomew stated that the unification of Orthodox Christians with Catholics will take place “despite the objections of those who either belittle the value of theology or consider ecumenism utopia”.

Thirdly, this is the advancement of the theory, or better to say the heresy of “Constantinople papism”, according to which the Patriarch of Constantinople is the actual head of the Church, the first without equals, endowed with special and exclusive prerogatives.

Fourthly, it is the strengthening of their personal power within the Patriarchate of Constantinople. From about 2008 to 2011, Patriarch Bartholomew made a full-scale personnel revolution in the Patriarchate of Constantinople, forcing to resign from their posts all bishops and clergy representatives who could at least somehow point out to the patriarch that he was wrong. Instead of them, young, ambitious and personally devoted persons to the Ecumenical Patriarch were appointed. One of the most dizzying careers at this time was made by the current head of the American Archdiocese, Elpidophoros (Lambriniadis), the author of the phrase “the first without equals” and an active lobbyist for the rise of the Patriarchate of Constantinople.

Fifthly, it is a clear, completely unconcealed dependence on the American establishment, adherence to the entire political course of the US administration. All important decisions and steps of the Patriarch of Constantinople were either initiated or agreed with representatives of the American authorities. The most important of them are decisions on Ukraine and on unification with Catholics. It is no secret that the actions of Patriarch Bartholomew in Ukraine were entirely initiated, controlled and supported by the US official representative for religious freedom Sam Brownback and other officials of the U.S. Department of State. To make sure of this, it is enough to compare the schedule of meetings of these persons with the participants of the Ukrainian Phanar project and the dates of decisions and events within the framework of this project. For example, here is a twit from the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine about S. Brownback’s visit to Kyiv on September 12, 2018.

A screenshot of the publication of the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine on Twitter

The message directly states that the topic of the negotiations was autocephaly. At the same time, two so-called Phanar exarchs were operating in Kyiv, also preparing autocephaly, and on October 11, 2018, the Patriarchate of Constantinople adopted the criminal decisions to legalize schismatics and grant them “autocephaly”.

After the meeting of Patriarch Bartholomew with the then U.S. Vice President Joe Biden in 2014, in which the Phanar-Vatican dialogue was discussed, the head of the Phanar signed a joint Declaration with Pope Francis, which declared the firm intention of the Phanar and the Vatican to go to the end on the path of unification: “We express our sincere and stable intention, obeying the will of our Lord Jesus Christ, to intensify our efforts to achieve complete unity of all Christians, and above all – between Catholics and the Orthodox.” However, with regard to his actual subordination to the American establishment, Patriarch Bartholomew only continues the line of his predecessors, and in particular of Patriarch Athenagoras (Spirou), who explicitly stated that “the cornerstone of his activity as a patriarch is the promotion of American ideals” (from the report of the U.S. Consul General in Istanbul Makati to the Department of State).

After this very cursory acquaintance with the “achievements” of Patriarch Bartholomew in his post, you can ask a rhetorical question – on what, in fact, to congratulate him on the 30th anniversary of the election as Patriarch? Shortly after celebrating his anniversary, the Phanar head went on a 12-day visit to the United States, during which he met with an ardent supporter of LGBT and abortion, U.S. President Joe Biden. And this meeting testifies that the practice of fulfilling the will of the United States even to the detriment of its religious interests (not to mention the observance of the Church canons) continues and is gaining momentum. The fact that after negotiations with Patriarch Bartholomew, negotiations between the American president and Pope Francis have already been announced, says that the cause of uniting the Phanar and the Vatican under the patronage of American politicians is actively moving towards its apogee. Under these conditions, it is quite possible that the question of choice will be as follows: either to remain Orthodox or to follow Patriarch Bartholomew in the union with Catholics.

This is hardly what the Local Orthodox Churches want, at least the clergy and ordinary church people. So, Patriarch Bartholomew has to celebrate the anniversary of his patriarchy with only one bishop from the Romanian Church and with Nestor Pysyk, who was “ordained” as “bishop” by excommunicated Filaret Denisenko. The fact that Denisenko the very next day, i.e. on October 23, 2021, accepted under his omophorion a group of Greek Old Calendarists, whom Bartholomew himself considers to be schismatics, adds gloomy humor to all this.

It is time to recall the words of the Apostle Paul: “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows …”(Gal 6: 7). However, while a person is alive on earth, the doors of repentance are open for him.

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