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BARTHOLOMEW TO IERONYMOS: I RIGHTFULLY CLAIM THE “NEW TERRITORIES”

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Crete SessionSource: Pravoslavie.ru

The Patriarchate of Constantinople has no plans to return the “New Territories” in its immediate jurisdiction, as Patriarch Bartholomew stated to Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens during a meeting of the Crete Council, writes Orthodoxia.info.

Today the primates and bishops participating in the Council are discussing the draft document on the mechanism for granting a Church’s “autonomy.” The Greek Church had already proposed an amendment to the document.

Immediately after the proposal of the amendment, the Patriarch told the Archbishop that, inasmuch as the question of the “New Territories” is the cause of misunderstanding on the part of people who seek complications in the relations between the Phanar and Athens, the Patriarchate makes clear that these dioceses, as is known, belong to it, and neither now nor in the future is there any intention of changing their status.

During the discussion, the Patriarch of Constantinople expressed his conviction that the dioceses of Crete and the Dodecanese belong to the Constantinople Patriarchate “no less than to Greece …”

Note that there is a dispute between the Greek Church and the Patriarchate of Constantinople over the northern territories of Greece, which are practically speaking part of the Greek Orthodox Church although formally subject to Constantinople’s jurisdiction. On August 29, 2015 the hierarchs of the “New Territories” participated in a hierarchical synaxis of the Patriarchate of Constantinople which aroused the protest of the Greek Church and its refusal to participate in the gathering of the primates of the Local Orthodox Churches in Chambesy.

Translated by Jesse Dominick

Union of Orthodox Journalists

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2 Comments

  1. Rev. David Bissias on

    It may be noted that the churches of the “New Lands” were never (and are not) part of the autocephalous Church of Greece (likewise Crete and the Dodecanese Islands). When Greece declared its autocephaly under pressure from its Bavarian King, and when its autocephaly was recognized by the Ecumenical Patriarchate ending a schism of a couple decades, these territories were not part of the modern nation of Greece. Greece acquired these territories later. While the Church of Greece “administers” the churches of the New Lands for practical reasons by consent of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the election of Metropolitans in these churches is confirmed by the Ecumenical Patriarchate. This has never been the case with the autonomous Church of Crete or the metropolitan sees comprising the Dodecanese Islands: the Church of Greece has never been involved in the election of hierarchs in these territories.

    As an aside, it is interesting that the Church of Greece, for various political and practical (?) reasons, has occasionally agitated for the New Lands to be made permanently part of the Church of Greece. It has not done so, in the same manner at any rate, for the Church of Crete or the Dodecanese. So the argument cannot be some modernist reference to the erroneous principle that the borders of an autocephalous church must coincide with political borders.

    Indeed, if such were the case, there would be no objection to an autocephalous church in Estonia, Belarus, or Ukraine (now independent nations) by the Moscow Patriarchate, or the Macedonian Church (Macedonia now independent) by the Serbian Patriarchate, just to list a few examples. Obviously the erroneous principle is mooted by actual ecclesiastical history: at one time all the ancient Patriarchates (and Cyprus) existed on and within the borders of the Roman Empire.

    I do not argue against the practical benefits of generally organizing churches along with civil/secular political borders, but it is not a canonical principle that can or should be applied consistently, primarily because this would subordinate the Church to the whims of civil/political (and often non-Christian, much less Orthodox Christian) leaders.

    • Stacy Sennott on

      I thought you were going by the name of Philip Demos on this website. Glad to see you are using your real name now.

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