Does the EP Claim Universal Jurisdiction?

In a letter (translated below) dated December 14, 2018 to then-Metropolitan Oleksandr Drabinko, accepting him into the Ecumenical Patriarchate and absolving him of any canonical sanctions imposed by any other jurisdiction, Patriarch Bartholomew makes the alarming claim that the Patriarch of Constantinople “indisputably has the responsibility to judge ecclesiastical matters everywhere and to give them a final conclusion.” This claim is goes well beyond the canonical procedure for appeal and approaches a quasi-papal claim to universal jurisdiction. Moreover, given that Patriarch Bartholomew holds a doctorate in canon law from the Pontifical Oriental Institute, he must be aware that Constantinople’s right to have a final say in the affairs of other churches is far from “indisputable”, as the 12th century canonist John Zonaras and, citing him, St Nicodemus of the Holy Mountain in his Rudder, reject any such right.

The text of Patriarch Bartholomew’s letter is as follows:

Your Eminence, Metropolitan of Pereyaslav-Khmelnitsky and Vishneve, beloved brother in the Holy Spirit and concelebrant of Our Mediocrity, Alexander, may Your Eminence be blessed with peace from God.

After you, Your Eminence, turned to Our Mediocrity and presented your case to us, by the grace of God, Archbishop of Constantinople-New Rome, not only as one who by the Church’s providence indisputably has the responsibility to judge ecclesiastical matters everywhere and to give them a final conclusion, but also as to your canonical father and Master, since your diocese has been restored from her longstanding irregular administration by another ecclesiastical jurisdiction and after the retraction and cancellation of the Charter of our illustrious predecessor Dionysius IV, is the territory of the Great Church of Christ in Constantinople, her genuine we have come to the decision to join you, through this Patriarchal Charter of ours, to the jurisdiction of our Most Holy Apostolic and Patriarchal Ecumenical See, with your venerable clergy and pious laity, removing all responsibility, burden, other burdensome conduct imposed on you by any ecclesiastical body, or punishment, fully accepting everything of the pastoral responsibilities of your episcopacy [that you have performed] .

And so, we adorn you through fatherly prayer and our Patriarchal blessing, bestow upon you our fraternal kiss and wholeheartedly call down upon you the grace and mercy of God worshiped in Trinity, to whom be glory and power unto the ages.

Drabinko Letter.jpg

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