Jad Ganem: A Lesson from History

Arabic original here.

In a lecture about the history of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in the 20th century, Metropolitan Chrysostomos of Ephesus, of thrice-blessed memory, dean of the metropolitans of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, went into detail about the pressure exerted on the Holy Synod of Constantinople by civil authorities to force the bishops to elect the Metropolitan of America, Athenagoras, as Ecumenical Patriarch. He described how politicians supporting the patriarch turned on him during his tenure and how in 1970 the Turkish authorities issued a nine-point memorandum organizing the election of the next patriarch. This memorandum stipulated the establishment of three-person committee to oversee the nomination and election process and included a detailed for organizing the manner in which the list of candidates was prepared. It granted the government the right to conduct the proceedings to  investigate the candidates and remove those that it deems inappropriate and gave it the competency to appoint the patriarch if the synod does not keep to the specified time limit for electing the patriarch. This mechanism also supposes that a representative of the government will take part in the formal election process in order to ratify the soundness of the election and to confirm that it fulfills the legal conditions.

The metropolitan mentions that the Holy Synod of Constantinople strongly objected to the final paragraph, stressing that the election is a purely ecclesiastical process that takes place in the Church according to rules derived from ecclesiastical tradition which include the invocation of the Holy Spirit. The authorities’ response, however, was choking,  as it expressed their being unconvinced by this argument, explaining that “elections in the Church of Greece and in the Church of Crete dependent on Constantinople take place in the presence of a civil servant delegated by the state, enjoying the same competencies as those that the elected delegate of the Turkish government will enjoy.” Metropolitan Chrysostomos stated that he brought attention to this incident in order to warn that “what we are doing in the Orthodox sphere usually gives a bad example for others” which can come back to haunt us. I think that His Holiness the current Ecumenical Patriarch knows this incident very well, as he was the disciple and companion of Metropolitan Melitos of Chalcedon who was excluded from the list of candidates at that time after having been the strongest candidate and the one most prepared to succeed Patriarch Athenagoras.

Perhaps revisiting today the words of Metropolitan Chrysostomos will serve as a warning of the dangers involved in what the Phanar is doing in Ukraine, where the decisions that the Phanariots are making in cooperation with political authorities might constitute precedents from whose repercussions  neither the Ecumenical Patriarchate nor the other local churches will be spared in the future.

Will Constantinople reconsider her decisions and avoid being immersed in political plans and power politics? Will she put the brakes on the opression to which the legitimate Church in Ukraine is being subjected so as not to open the door for others to use this behavior as an excuse for persecuting the Church in the future?  Will we learn from the tragedies of our history and our mistakes?

He who has ears to hear, let him hear.

%d bloggers like this:
search previous next tag category expand menu location phone mail time cart zoom edit close