The Patriarch of Constantinople attended the Divine Liturgy that was celebrated Friday, October 26 at the Church of Saint Demetrios Xirokrinis (Kuruçeşme). After speaking about the life of the Holy Great-Martyr and of the special devotion to him in Constantinople, Thessalonica and all over the world, he went on to refer to the service and the great responsibility of the Church of Constantinople:
‘We are few in numbers but innumerable. Moreover, the power of the Great Church is not of this world and is not proven by numbers. Our Ecumenical Patriarchate is strong because it has a sacrificial love and it acts through humility and the Cross. Its history is full of martyrdom and sacrifice for the world, for all peoples and “for all the nations.” Of course, in secular associations and bodies, only the power of numbers, of money and of secular and political power is taken into account, but in the Church the spiritual laws, the holy canons, the pious tradition of our nation, the holy and sacred things of our ancestors and the word of Christ recorded in the holy Gospel reign. The Church of Constantinople, of which all you pious pilgrims are the faithful children, constitutes the embodiment of the free love of Christ, which does not crucify but is crucified, which sacrifices its soul for its brothers, that is, for all humans. It sacrifices its soul for its enemies and all those who are unable to tolerate this great reality. That is, that the Ecumenical Patriarchate is the first Church and the head and origin of all the local Churches. This is because it sacrificially founded and recognized all the autocephalous Orthodox Churches in the contemporary world.
This great responsibility of the Mother, the holy Great Church of Christ, certainly has no expiration date. This is why, just as we have granted autocephaly to all the local Churches, the holy and sacred Synod which surrounds us has similiarly decided to bestow autocephaly on Ukraine, which is tormented in many ways, so that it, too, may come to be within the pleroma of the Orthodox in unity and internal peace. It is uniquely the first see, the Church of Constantinople, that holds this great responsibility from the holy canons, its primate being the first among the Orthodox. Each time that he is tempted to distort this basic ecclesiological principle, a very great abuse of authority is committed, namely that some claim to be the first without being so and take initiatives without having the right to do so, forgetting that the Ecumenical Patriarchate exercises its obligation in love that is sacrificial and selfless.
Indeed, the true newness of this unique love, which opposes every moralism and novelty that endeavors to introduce new ideas and philosophies into the body of the Church, is that it does not establish any distinction between the holy God and sinful man, but rather endeavors to instruct and persuade by its kerygma that God is “the friend of sinners” (Luke 7:14). And our Church is the Church of sinners and ones who have repented and the Church of salvation of the poor and unworthy.’