Την άποψη ότι ο Πατριάρχης Μόσχας Κύριλλος είναι καλύτερα να παραιτηθεί παρά να υποστηρίζει τον πόλεμο, εξέφρασε ο Οικουμενικός Πατριάρχης κ. Βαρθολομαίος, σε συνέντευξή του στο The Pillar.
Ο Οικουμενικός Πατριάρχης στη συνέντευξη που παραχώρησε με αφορμή την επίσκεψη που πραγματοποιεί αυτές τις ημέρες στην Αρχιεπισκοπή Θυατείρων, επέκρινε τον Πατριάρχη Κύριλλο για τη στάση του Πατριαρχείου Μόσχας σχετικά με την ολική εισβολή της Ρωσίας στη γείτονά της.
Ο πνευματικός ηγέτης περίπου 300 εκατομμυρίων Ορθοδόξων Χριστιανών σε όλο τον κόσμο ανέφερε ότι ο συνεχιζόμενος πόλεμος μεταξύ ορθοδόξων μαχητών σε μεγάλο βαθμό της Ανατολής τον είχε «βαρύνει πολύ».
«Αυτό που είναι ακόμα πιο οδυνηρό για εμάς είναι το γεγονός ότι το Πατριαρχείο της Μόσχας έχει φτάσει στο επίπεδο να υποτάσσεται στις πολιτικές φιλοδοξίες της Ρωσικής Ομοσπονδίας, υποστηρίζοντας και φαινομενικά ευλογώντας αυτή τη σκληρή εισβολή και την αδικαιολόγητη αιματοχυσία», τόνισε χαρακτηριστικά ο κ. Βαρθολομαίος.
«Έχουμε επανειλημμένα καταδικάσει την επιθετικότητα και τη βία, όπως θερμά και αδελφικά απευθύναμε έκκληση στον Πατριάρχη Μόσχας να διαχωρίσει τον εαυτό του από τα πολιτικά εγκλήματα, ακόμα κι αν αυτό σημαίνει να παραιτηθεί από τον θρόνο του» ανέφερε.
Ο Οικουμενικός Πατριάρχης, στο παρελθόν είχε ζητήσει να παραιτηθεί ο Πατριάρχης Κύριλλος ως ένδειξη διαμαρτυρίας για την απόφαση του Ρώσου προέδρου Βλαντιμίρ Πούτιν να εντείνει τον πόλεμο στην Ουκρανία, ο οποίος χρονολογείται από το 2014.
Σε συνέντευξή του στη ΕΡΤ τον περασμένο Μάιο, ο Οικουμενικός Πατριάρχης είπε ότι, παρά τις πρόσφατες διαφορές μεταξύ Μόσχας και Κωνσταντινούπολης, «θα περίμενε ακόμη από τον αδελφό μας, τον Μακαριώτατο [Πατριάρχη] Κύριλλο, κατά τη διάρκεια αυτής της κρίσιμης και ιστορικής στιγμής, να σταθεί στο ύψος των περιστάσεων, να θυσιάσει τον θρόνο του, αν χρειαστεί, και να πει στον Πούτιν, «κ. Πρόεδρε, δεν μπορώ να συμφωνήσω μαζί σου. Παραιτούμαι, φεύγω».
Ο Πατριάρχης Βαρθολομαίος αναφέρθηκε, επίσης, στην απόφαση της Μόσχας να διακόψει τους δεσμούς με το Οικουμενικό Πατριαρχείο μετά την έκδοση το 2019 του Τόμου Αυτοκεφαλίας για την αναγνώριση της ανεξαρτησίας της Ορθόδοξης Εκκλησίας της Ουκρανίας.
Τόνισε ότι «είναι αδιανόητο η Μητέρα Εκκλησία της Κωνσταντινούπολης να κόψει τους ιστορικούς πνευματικούς δεσμούς της με τον ευσεβή ρωσικό λαό».
«Με αυτό το πνεύμα», είπε, «ελπίζουμε ότι κάποια μέρα το Πατριαρχείο Μόσχας θα αναγνωρίσει επίσης ότι η ενότητα δεν επιβάλλεται με κυριαρχία, αλλά αγκαλιάζεται μόνο στην ελευθερία».
The Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople has said that it would be better for the head of the Russian Orthodox Church to step down than offer support for the “cruel invasion” of Ukraine.
In an interview with The Pillar ahead of a visit to Britain on Friday, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew lamented Patriarch Kirill of Moscow’s stance on Russia’s full-scale invasion of its neighbor.
The spiritual leader of an estimated 300 million Orthodox Christians worldwide indicated that the ongoing war between largely Eastern Orthodox combatants had “weighed heavily” on him.
“What is still more painful to us is the fact that the Patriarchate of Moscow has stooped to the level of submitting to political ambitions of the Russian Federation, even endorsing and seemingly blessing this cruel invasion and unjustifiable bloodshed,” he told The Pillar.
“We have repeatedly condemned the aggression and violence, just as we have fervently and fraternally appealed to the Patriarch of Moscow that he separate himself from political crimes, even if it means stepping down from his throne.”
The Ecumenical Patriarch, the leader of the world’s second-largest Christian communion, denounced the full-scale Russian invasion after it began on Feb. 24 and visited Ukrainian refugees in Poland in March.
He has previously called for Patriarch Kirill to resign in protest at Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to intensify the war in Ukraine, which dates back to 2014.
In a May interview, the Ecumenical Patriarch said that, despite recent differences between Moscow and Constantinople, he “would have still expected our brother, His Beatitude [Patriarch] Kirill, during this crucial and historical moment, to rise to the occasion, to sacrifice his throne, if necessary, and to tell Putin, ‘Mr. President, I cannot agree with you; I resign, I’m leaving.’”
Bartholomew emphasized to The Pillar that since that call, he continued to hope that the difficulties between Moscow and Constantinople would be resolved.
He referred to Moscow’s decision to sever ties with the Ecumenical Patriarchate after he issued a decree in 2019 recognizing the Orthodox Church of Ukraine’s independence.
He stressed it was unthinkable for the Ecumenical Patriarchate to respond in kind, “because it is unimaginable for the Mother Church of Constantinople to cut off its historical spiritual ties with the pious Russian people.”
“In this spirit,” he said, “we hope that someday the Moscow Patriarchate will also recognize that unity is not enforced by domination, but only embraced in freedom.”
Bartholomew also told The Pillar he shared Pope Francis’ hope that Catholics and Orthodox Christians would one day achieve full communion.
“Unless we share hope and yearning for full communion, then we cannot really say that we are disciples of Christ,” he said.
“Union and communion is a mandate of the Lord Himself, who — on the night he was betrayed — prayed with tears that his disciples may be one (John 17:21).”
“Dialogue and reconciliation are not optional for us; they are directives and commandments. Needless to say, there remain obstacles, both ecclesiastical and theological.”
Visit to Britain
Bartholomew said that following the 30th anniversary of his election in 2021, he had decided to visit the largest English-speaking dioceses of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople in order of seniority. He began with a trip to the United States in the fall of 2021 and plans to visit Australia in 2024.
He noted that the Archdiocese of Thyateira and Great Britain was responsible for relations with the Archbishop of Canterbury, the spiritual leader of the Anglican Communion, and the Royal Family.
He said that the archdiocese had worked with the late Prince Philip, who had Greek Orthodox roots, and hoped to cooperate with the new King Charles III on environmental matters.
He also paid tribute to the renowned English theologian Metropolitan Kallistos Ware, who died in August.
He said that the author of notable books such as “The Orthodox Church” represented “the very best of what the Orthodox Church has to offer the contemporary world.”
Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I is the spiritual leader of an estimated 300 million Orthodox Christians worldwide.
Nicknamed the “Green Patriarch” because of his passionate commitment to defending the environment, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew enjoys a close bond with Pope Francis.
In an interview with The Pillar, conducted via email, he spoke about his upcoming visit to Britain, the Ukraine war, the Russian Orthodox Church, and the quest for Christian unity.
You are visiting London on Oct. 21-25 to mark the centenary of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Thyateira and Great Britain. What contribution do you think the archdiocese has made to the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople and the wider Christian world?
Our Archdiocese in Great Britain is historically the second Eparchy of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in the diaspora. It derives its title “Thyateira” from the ancient church cited in the Book of Revelation. As such, it is the earliest of our churches in Western Europe and boasts numerous local saints of England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland.
Following the celebration of our 30th anniversary since being elected to the Throne of Constantinople, we decided to visit our largest English-speaking eparchies in order of seniority, traveling to the United States last year, coming to England in October of this year, and journeying to Australia in 2024, especially since all three archdioceses have recently received new, young, and vibrant archbishops.
While in London, we hope to meet with community leaders, members, and youth in order to learn about their progress under the spiritual direction of Archbishop Nikitas. The responsibilities and privileges of the Archdiocese of Thyateira and Great Britain have traditionally included relations with the Church of England and particularly the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Royal Family, and especially with Prince Philip and now hopefully King Charles on matters related to the environment, but also the student populations of the renowned universities of the United Kingdom.
Metropolitan Kallistos Ware of Diokleia served as an assistant bishop within the archdiocese until his death on Aug. 22. His books helped English-speaking readers to gain a better understanding of Orthodoxy. What legacy do you think he leaves behind?
The late Metropolitan Kallistos of Diokleia was a distinguished theologian and teacher, who served Orthodox Christianity, and more broadly the ecumenical church, with his wisdom and knowledge that illuminated and shaped seekers of truth and faith in every corner of the world. He was also an eminent minister and bishop, who served the Archdiocese of Thyateira and more broadly the Ecumenical Patriarchate with his dedication and advancement of reconciliation and unity within the Orthodox Church and among the Christian confessions.
As a respected and prominent hierarch of the Church of Constantinople, his life and work highlighted the very essence of our Patriarchate as Ecumenical, transcending national borders and ethnic limitations. Metropolitan Kallistos represented the very best of what the Orthodox Church has to offer the contemporary world.
In a message that Pope Francis sent to you on the feast of St. Andrew 2020, he expressed his desire for full communion between Catholics and Orthodox Christians. “Although obstacles remain, I am confident that by walking together in mutual love and pursuing theological dialogue, we will reach that goal,” he wrote. Do you share the pope’s confidence that full communion is possible?
Unless we share hope and yearning for full communion, then we cannot really say that we are disciples of Christ. Union and communion is a mandate of the Lord Himself, who — on the night he was betrayed — prayed with tears that his disciples may be one (John 17:21). Dialogue and reconciliation are not optional for us; they are directives and commandments.
Needless to say, there remain obstacles, both ecclesiastical and theological. But in the 1960s, we established the “dialogue of love” whereby our two churches exchanged visitations and communications with a view to dispelling misunderstandings and prejudices of the past. And in 1980, we commenced the “dialogue of truth” whereby as sister churches we continue to deliberate on matters that unite and divide us in an effort to discern ways toward our common journey forward.
The Russian-Ukraine War is a conflict largely between Eastern Orthodox Christians. How do you feel about this as the spiritual leader of the world’s Eastern Orthodox Christians?
The ongoing war waged by Russia into the sovereign territory of Ukraine has weighed heavily on our mind and heart in recent months. It is true that it has been characterized as Orthodox fratricide, although the consequences have reached many more people, including Ukrainian Catholics as well as other Christian and religious believers, and the repercussions have surely been felt throughout the world.
What is still more painful to us is the fact that the Patriarchate of Moscow has stooped to the level of submitting to political ambitions of the Russian Federation, even endorsing and seemingly blessing this cruel invasion and unjustifiable bloodshed. We have repeatedly condemned the aggression and violence, just as we have fervently and fraternally appealed to the Patriarch of Moscow that he separate himself from political crimes, even if it means stepping down from his throne.
In recent years, the relationship between the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople and the Moscow Patriarchate has not been easy. Do you see any way that the difficulties could be resolved?
Since you asked about the war in Ukraine, we might add that it is a clear example of characteristic expansionist ambitions of Russia over the centuries.
Indeed, even as the war was being waged in Ukraine, the Church of Russia violated the ecclesiastical territory and jurisdiction of one of the most ancient Orthodox patriarchates, the Church of Alexandria and All Africa. Patriarch Kiril of Moscow justified this transgression on the basis of the Patriarch of Alexandria’s support for the independence of the Orthodox Church in Ukraine.
As you know, Moscow severed the Church of Constantinople from communion, just as it has done with the Church of Alexandria and every other church that recognizes the autocephalous Church of Ukraine. For our part, we continue to be in communion with Moscow, not only because it is canonically and ecclesiologically unacceptable to cease being in communion for non-dogmatic reasons, on the basis of purely administrative excuses, but also because it is unimaginable for the Mother Church of Constantinople to cut off its historical spiritual ties with the pious Russian people, who received their Christian faith from Constantinople and constituted for many centuries a vivid part of the flock of the Ecumenical Throne.
In this spirit, we hope that someday the Moscow Patriarchate will also recognize that unity is not enforced by domination, but only embraced in freedom.
We are witnessing multiple crises in Europe: war, refugees, energy, poverty, and the environment. Where can we find hope?
There is a moment in the Orthodox Divine Liturgy, when the priest turns to the congregation and says: “Let us love one another so that we may confess God with one mind.” The challenges you mention confront not just Europe, but the entire globe. Unless we face them in a spirit of love, we will not prevail. This is why we have committed to addressing these problems jointly with our brother in Christ, Pope Francis. If our churches are as yet unable to claim full communion, we can at least proclaim our resolve to address the world’s crisis in solidarity of faith and action.
We learned this lesson very clearly during the COVID-19 pandemic, when we realized that our decisions and behaviors directly affect the wellbeing and survival of our fellow human beings. We can no longer be separated or isolated on this planet. We are responsible and accountable for one another.