Met Isaiah of Tamasos and Oreini: Now is the Time for Dialogue

Greek original here.

The decision by the Moscow Patriarchate to create an Exarchate on the canonical territory of the Patriarchate of Alexandria is an obvious side-effect of the Ukrainian issue, which continues to evolve with unpredictable consequences.

After the Ukrainian issue, trust between our Churches was shaken and any unilateral decision that now occurs, if it is not dealt with collectively, will inevitably damage ecclesiastical relations and balances between the local Orthodox Churches.

This will have the effect of further undermining the Conciliar System of Orthodoxy and take relations between the Orthodox Churches into uncharted waters of division and weakness.

I have the sense, and I hope I am mistaken, that if we go forward after the distrust that was created by the ecclesial crisis in Ukraine, many Orthodox countries, when they do not come to an agreement in an issue between them, instead of letting dialogue and mutual understanding preside before they make final decisions, as they did in the past, they will proceed to unilateral solutions without pan-Orthodox agreement, which will not be accepted by all the Churches and thus will deepen the rift between them.

As long as the crisis in Orthodoxy continues, her enemies will celebrate receiving an unexpected “gift”, which we gave them with our own hands.

Faced with this danger, a Synaxis of our Primates is urgently needed, presided, of course, by our first among equals, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, who also has the responsibility to convene such a Synaxis as he has previously done prior to 2018, where many problems were solved, even if with difficulty.

Whatever their decision may be, it should be respected, so that united we all may continue with the consolidation and dissemination of the sanctifying and peace-giving message of Orthodoxy throughout the world.

Our Church’s neutrality, as concerns her initial position toward the Ukrainian issue, was precisely intended to avoid developments of an unpredictable nature, such as those that we are now experiencing, preventing our becoming embroiled in geopolitical games.

This state of misunderstanding and the interruption of communication and communion between us, as it unfolds, does blatant injustice to everything we stand for as Orthodox Christians. And now, if we continue along this path which leads to nowhere, we will wind up turning our churches into inward-looking religious formations of our countries’ foreign relations, depriving them of what is beneficial to the soul, sanctifying and, at the same time, peaceful– I repeat, their role in becoming local but also global.

I firmly believe that now is the time for dialogue and bridges of communication, mutual respect, humility, repentance and mutual forgiveness between us all. There will be no winners and losers if this crisis is prolonged because the damage that will be done to our relations will irreparably harm Orthodoxy in its entirety.

All Orthodox bishops are able to help to alleviate the situation, both collectively through our Holy Synods and personally through our acquaintances, which we must activate.

There is an urgent need for us immediately to pray and work to heal the evolving crisis and to prevent the impending schism that is visible within our Church.

Finally, let us remember these blessed feast days of the Nativity of Christ and Theophany, what we are and what is the power of love among us, through some verses of the Apostle Paul’s Epistle to the Corinthians: “Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually….” (1 Corinthians 12:27).

One who loves is patient, kind, does not envy, does not parade himself, is not puffed up, does not behave rudely, does not seek his own, is not provoked, thinks no evil of his neighbor and makes no account of the harm suffered from him (cf. 1 Corinthians 13:4-5).

I am optimistic that there is still hope. The Lord said: “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes” (Mark 9:23) and “The things which are impossible with men are possible with God” (Luke 18:27).

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