Greek original below the jump.
“Beyond this sacred mystery, I neither understand nor teach anything, but with my whole soul I cling to all the theological dogmas and all the teachings handed down to us by the eyewitnesses and attendants of God the Word and the God-inspired Fathers of the Ecumenical Councils who received them from them, neither adding nor subtracting anything, nor changing one jot or tittle, but rather keeping Orthodox faith and theology in my heart complete and unchangeable.” (Maksim Grek, Confession of Faith)
Your Beatitude, Metropolitan of Kiev and All Ukraine, beloved brother in Christ God and co-liturgist, Epiphany,
Your Excellency the President of Ukraine,
Reverend and God-beloved holy hierarchs, priests and deacons of the Church,
Leaders of the people and special people of the Church of Ukraine,
With these theological words from the work Confession of Faith and his most genuine phronema, Saint Maximos of Vatopedi, who is celebrated today and is called “Greek”, that is, “Hellene” and over five hundred years ago served as bishop in the regions of the North, responding on behalf of another venerable Athonite father to the invitation of the ruler and Metropolitan, so as to assist with his outside knowledge to the formation of the Orthodox consciousness of the faithful people of God.
God’s Providence has selected this day for Your Beatitude to be placed upon this canonical throne of the historical and sacred city of Kiev, elected days earlier by the Lay-Clergy Assembly of December 15 of last year, convoked by the providence of the Mother Church. Today you are enthroned as the first Primate of the new Orthodox Church of Ukraine. Today the souls of the forefathers who spent their life in expectation of the advent of internal administrative autonomy here exult. Today the unity of the Ukrainian people is offered as a reality and as a prayer by the benefactor of the entire Orthodox faith, the Mother Church of Constantinople.
The work of the Church is, through the truths described in the dogmas, the salvation, in Christ, of the entire universe. Likewise, in order to examine the dogmatic truth, attachment to this or that letter of the law alone does not suffice, but rather the life of all of us in the daily praxis of the Church. The Church and her praxis lead us to the Truth, to eternal life, just as the Church’s praxis reveals how and in what way the Holy Spirit arranges and guides the Church’s holy situations. This praxis and life of the Church is not separate from ecclesiology, from the distortion that the Orthodox consciousness often suffers in these times. Ecclesiology is so important for Orthodox experience of salvation that we can say without a doubt that spiritual life without genuine ecclesiology ends up in acrobatics not far removed from delusion and, sadly, participating in it. The Eastern Orthodox Church, in her steady and proven age-old experience, has held up as the rule and canon of pure ecclesiology the holy system of the Pentarchy of Sees, with the See of Constantinople as head of all the holy Churches of God, not by right of rulership, but because the life and practice of the Church has deemed for this sacred institution to exist as the boundary between differences that arise and the unresolved internal problems and issues of each one. The Patriarchs of the East have also indicated the See of Constantinople to be the irrevocable judgement of every ecclesiastical issue.
These privileges, called upon by many, of the Mother Church of Constantinople are still none other than to guide her before the entire body of the Lord. It is likewise guidance and sacrificial ministry that Constantinople exhausts herself in the arbitration of the Local Churches, in their regular course, in settling their major issues and, ultimately, for the rest and salvation of the elect people. From this martyric Church, Your Beatitude, you yourselves, the brothers in Ukraine, have received the solution to your protracted ecclesiastical issue. From this Church of Constantinople you have received holy Baptism and indeed, rebaptism through the resolution of the schism that had unfortunately arisen and indeed, through the creation of a new Local Church. And speaking of the Local Church, which is customarily called by various people “autocephaly”, the praxis of the Church is clear: as is well-known, only an Ecumenical Council can create a Local Church, as for example the Patriarchates of Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem and the ancient Church of Cyprus. All the later Local and so-called autocephalous churches which were created by the Mother Church of Constantinople kenotically and out of love, is nothing other than proof that the Great Church of Christ, anxious with spiritual concern and observing the circumstances of the times, did not favor the domination of peoples, but gave various peoples the privilege to manage specific issues of the life of the Church in internal autocephaly, without understanding “autocephaly” as a spiritual and ecclesiastical emancipation, much less as indifference, forgetfulness and ingratitude toward the Mother Church that has granted this status.
For the sense and experience of the unbreakable bond of the daughter Church of Ukraine toward her Mother Church of Constantinople shall be stronger in every direction, preaching and experience, that the ecclesiastical way of internal autocephaly is rightly chosen and that the Ukrainian clergy and people are indeed worthy of managing specific issues within the boundaries of their Local Church. For the Church of Constantinople is called and rightly is Mother Church to others, as historically and ecclesiastically the genetrix to all, without exception, she is mistress in terms of her revered augustness as, according to the acts of the Church, she constitutes the canonical refuge and pinnacle.
For this reason, the honor-loving and most faithful Ukrainian people, the sensitive and Christ-loving people, should thus take pride and exult out of gratitude, Your Beatitude and Your Excellency Mr President, because that which today is reborn, restored to the communion of the holy Churches of God and in an internally autocephalous Local Orthodox Church, owes it to the All-Venerable Ecumenical See of Constantinople and personally to His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew.
Hence this sound, easily-comprehensible expression of theology is an additional gift from my humble heart to the newborn Church of Ukraine and to Your Beatitude, just as the paternal confidence of His All-Holiness my Archbishop and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew reserved, through my paucity as well as through the precious cooperation of my brother His Eminence Metropolitan of Adrianople Amphilochios,the practicable contribution and support for the creation of the necessary and sufficient conditions for the preparation of the Holy Unifying Lay-Clerical Synod which choose You in a harmonious spirit for those things described by the holy Fathers over time.
You are and ever shall be “Axios,” Your Beatitude! Worthy of the confidence of His All-Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch, on whose behalf we have come today, at this moment, beside You, along with the holy [bishop] of Adrianople and His Most Reverend permanent Exarch and the superior of the Patriarchal Stavropegion of Saint Andrew here, Kyrios Michael, and the abbot from the Holy Mountain, Archimandrite Alexios of the Monastery of Xerophontos, as well as the representative of the superiors of the Monastery of Vatopedi, Hieromonk Maximos. And it is a good coincidence that today there is a representation from the Monastery of Vatopedi in particular, on the day when we commemorate our Holy Father Maksim Grek, of Vatopedi, the great man who labored and upheld the Orthodox faith in the North as yet another proof of the secret labor of the Mother Church her children across the Ecumene. And so we all transmit to Your Beatitude the fraternal embrace, the affectionate prayers and sincere congratulations of His Most Divine All-Holiness, Archbishop of Constantinople, New Rome, and Ecumenical Patriarch, our lord Bartholomew, the Holy Synod around His Most Divine All-Holiness and the entire Great Church of Christ.
May you live many years! Many jubilant, creative years in the steadfast toil and sacrifice of every clergyman, in imitation of Christ, for the Church and for the life of the world, offering bread, wine and water to God the Father, that He may send down in return divine grace and the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Many years, Your Beatitude!
On behalf of His All-Holiness, I hand you this staff as a support in the pastoral work which, with good expectations, you undertake and I call out with everyone, “AXIOS!”