A new conflict ignited between the Moscow Patriarchate and the Ecumenical Patriarchate because of the latter’s decision to include members of the non-canonical body under its jurisdiction in Estonia in its delegation to a meeting of the Inter-Orthodox commission on Rhodes. “Such manifestations of unilateral action from EP representatives make it extremely difficult to find a mutually satisfactory solution to the question of a canonical settlement of the situation within Orthodoxy in Estonia”, said a statement of the communications service of the MP Department for External Church Relations posted on the MP official website. It further noted that such actions “pose a dangerous threat to the actual implementation of Orthodox unity, whereas its reinforcement is one of the most important concerns of the MP. Responsibility for such incidents lies completely on the side of the EP”, the DECR message emphasised.
The MP delegation had to leave the commission’s session on Thursday and informed it that this incident would be reported to the members of the Archpastoral Council of the MP due to open on 24 June. The commission’s session was set to work out a draft message to the primates of the Local Orthodox Churches. The document was to be adopted at a planned meeting of Orthodox leaders expected to take place in October in Istanbul, at which the EP shall declare 2008 the year of St Paul.
Previously, Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople invited Patriarch Aleksei of Moscow and all the Russias to participate in the autumn meeting. In his response of 3 June, Patriarch Aleksei expressed his desire to Bartholomew that the session of the Inter-Orthodox Commission tasked with preparing the draft document would respect the resolution of the MP Archpastoral Council of 2000 stipulating that MP clergy could not participate in inter-Orthodox forums when members of the uncanonical “Estonian Apostolic Orthodox Church” (EP) acted as official delegates. “The letter went unanswered”, the DECR noted. Earlier, in October 2007, the same sort of provocation by the EP forced the MP delegation to leave a session of the Mixed Orthodox-Catholic Theological Commission in Ravenna, as members of the so-called “Estonian Apostolic Orthodox Church” were amongst the EP delegation. This uncanonical body was established in 1996 by the EP on the canonical territory of the MP [without permission or release from the MP].
19 June 2008
This is serious. However, one must gauge the contestants fairly and accurately. The MP, with over 140 million adherents, is 75 percent of world Orthodoxy. The EP has only 10,000 actual members on its canonical territory (Turkey). All of its other members are in dioceses seized by it whilst the Russian church was persecuted by the Bolshies. Great people… they kick others when they are down!
The conflict between the MP and EP has been a long time brewing. I believe that “High Noon” is near, and I do daresay that Moscow is going to win. Bartholomew is an Isidore, and his latest actions confirm it. I would suggest to Bartholomew’s Vatican paymasters that they rein him in or irreparable damage to Orthodox-Catholic relations shall ensue.
Why must we live in such “interesting times”?