On June 29-30, 2018, His Eminence Metropolitan Antony and Archbishop Daniel met with His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, in Constantinople (Istanbul, Turkey), residence of Patriarchs of Constantinople.
Upon the invitation of His All-Holiness, the hierarchs participated in the liturgical celebrations for the Feasts of Holy Apostles Peter and Paul and the Synaxis of the Holy Apostles. At the Feast of the Synaxis of the Holy Apostles His All-Holiness asked Metropolitan to greet those present. His Eminence expressed gratitude to the Patriarch for the invitation to worship with him, especially at the above mentioned Feasts, seeking his permission to extend Patriarchal blessings upon the faithful of our Church here in the USA when we celebrate these Feasts according to the Julian Calendar 13 days later. His Eminence recalled the fact that the Holy Apostles have been our intercessors before the Throne of God since that first Pentecost over two thousand years ago and their efforts have been successful.
Metropolitan Antony expressed deep gratitude to God for the critically needed apostolic work of His All-Holiness in so many ways in this modern and secular world. He has continually strived for unity in the Orthodox world and has been a powerful voice about the moral, ethical and ecumenical issues of that world, in particular the environment and human rights issues. He thanked the Patriarch for his unending effort in support of the Holy Church in Ukraine and assured him of the prayers of tens of millions of Orthodox faithful throughout Ukraine and their desire to reaffirm their allegiance to the Ecumenical Patriarchate as the Mother Church of Ukraine.
Attending various liturgical services in the temples of the Ancient Patriarchate of Constantinople, Metropolitan Antony and Archbishop Daniel had wonderful opportunities to witness the dedication of the Patriarch of Constantinople to providing spiritual care and nourishment to the Orthodox Christians of various ethnic communities of modern day Istanbul, even in the face of constant threats to his very life. To witness the love and joy in the faces of the faithful who have the opportunity to pray with His All-Holiness was profoundly moving.
During the meeting with His All-Holiness, the hierarchs of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA led a serious and constructive discussion about the social and moral issues of our society and the Church’s response to them. Further, the future of the Holy Orthodox Church in Ukraine was discussed in detail confirming once again our bishops that His All-Holiness thoroughly understands and experiences, along with our hierarchs, the needs of the Church and her faithful. They had the opportunity to inform the Patriarch about the plans for our CENTENNIAL celebration for our Church and asked for his blessing upon them and all our faithful. His All-Holiness assured that he would, indeed, be with all our faithful during these celebrations and would extend his greetings in a special way. Other important matters about the life of our Church beyond the borders of Ukraine were also discussed and will be returned to at the necessary time following our jubilee celebrations.
His All-Holiness expressed the Ecumenical Throne’s determined interest and desire for the healing of the Ukrainian ecclesiastical situation and the restoration unity in the divided Church of the nation during his address in the Hall of the Throne, following the 40-day memorial of Metropolitan Evangelos of Perge, which took place on Sunday, July 1, 2018, at the Patriarchal Church of St. George at the Phanar. His All-Holiness reminded everyone present that the Church of Constantinople, which in the past has worked to successfully resolve difficult ecclesiastical problems—always guided by what is beneficial for the people of God and the preservation of Pan-Orthodox unity—strives even today for the definitive resolution of the ecclesiastical issues in Ukraine.
Referring to the personality and contribution of the late Hierarch of the Ecumenical Throne, who worked as a member of many Synodal Committees to resolve various problems, “with history, the canons and rationality as his criteria,” Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew specifically highlighted the following:
“Even today, if he were amongst us, he would have consented to the current and timely matter of settling the Ukrainian ecclesiastical problem. For, as the Mother Church, it is reasonable to desire the restoration of unity for the divided ecclesiastical body in Ukraine, a faithful population of tens of millions, baptized and enlightened directly through the providence and missionary activity of our Ecumenical Throne. Besides, as in the past, the Church of Constantinople—while exercising its canonical rights and pastoral care—worked to successfully resolve difficult and complicated ecclesiastical problems, always guided by what is beneficial for the people of God and the preservation of Pan-Orthodox unity. We should simply remember the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s recent participation and support in the problems that afflicted the Churches of Jerusalem, Cyprus, Albania, and so on. In this spirit, the Great Church of Christ of Constantinople, speaking the truth in love, strives even today for the definitive resolution of the ecclesiastical issues in Ukraine.”
“Subsequently, His All-Holiness reminded the congregation about spiritual and canonical rights of the Ecumenical Throne on the Ukrainian territory:
‘Let us not forget that Constantinople never ceded the territory of Ukraine to anyone by means of some ecclesiastical Act, but only granted to the Patriarch of Moscow the right of ordination or transfer of the Metropolitan of Kiev on the condition that the Metropolitan of Kiev should be elected by a Clergy-Laity Congress and commemorate the Ecumenical Patriarch. Listen to what is mentioned in this regard in the Tome of autocephaly, which was granted by the Mother Church to the Church of Poland: ‘For it is written that the original separation from our Throne of the Metropolis of Kiev and of the two Orthodox Churches of Lithuania and Poland, which depend on it, and their annexation to the Holy Church of Moscow, in no way occurred according to the binding canonical regulations, nor was the agreement respected concerning the full ecclesial independence of the Metropolitan of Kiev, who bears the title of Exarch of the Ecumenical Throne...’
“In conclusion, His All-Holiness once again referred to the late Metropolitan Evangelos of Perge, saying that everyone remembers his spiritual ministry, as well as the compassion and love that he exhibited towards every person.”
Those present included various Hierarchs of the Ecumenical Throne, Archbishop Damianos of Sinai, Pharan and Raitho, relatives of the late Metropolitan of Perge, Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, clergy, members of the Cathedral community and pilgrims from abroad. (From the Official Press Release of the Ecumenical Patriarchate)