The Ecumenical Patriarch called on the Slavic-speaking faithful of Antalya to remain united around their prelate, the Metropolitan of Pisidia but also their new Bishop, and expressed the hope of returning love and peace to relations with the Church of Russia
His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew ordained to the episcopacy the new bishop-elect Ambrosios of Evdokias on Sunday morning, July 21, at the Holy Church of St. Alypios in Antalya.
Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew celebrated the Divine Liturgy assisted by Metropolitans Sotirios of Pisidia, Stefanos of Kallioupolis and Madytos, Athenagoras of Kydonia and Maximos of Selyvria. Also participating was the Great Chancellor Andreas.
Prior to the ordination, His All-Holiness addressed paternal and constructive words to the newly elected Bishop Ambrosios, as well as admonitions for his new mission and ministry the Mother Church has entrusted him with.
“The Holy Great Church of Christ is happy and rejoices over the elevation and ordination of one of its devout children, who is called upon to minister in the Holy Metropolis of Pisidia and its God-protected congregation as an Auxiliary Bishop of our venerable and beloved brother, Metropolitan Sotirios of Pisidia, who has a great appreciation for you and for your current contribution to the Christian faithful here, for your many pastoral and communicative abilities, for your devotion and piety, and for your respect for the Ecumenical Throne.
We praise God, because He was given to His Church this Metropolitan of Pisidia, who is an apostle and a missionary, a self-sacrificing and loving man, a man who loves and respects the holy and loves and serves people, an ascetic man and man of prayer, a spiritual father who is the loving caretaker for his children, the one who knows their real needs and carries and cares for their illnesses. Metropolitan Sotirios of Pisidia is the fervent preacher of the Gospel, who conveyed and transmitted “words of eternal life” (John 6:68) to the depths of souls and to the ends of the world. He emphasized and gave testimony “about the hope within us” in the manner proposed by the Holy and Great Synod of the Orthodox Church (Crete, June 2016), “not aggressively through various forms of proselytism, but in love, humility and respect for the identity of each person and the cultural specificity of each people” (“Mission of the Orthodox Church in the Contemporary World,” Preamble). Follow the shining example of your Metropolitan, inspired by his spirituality and his apostolic zeal and illuminate the minds and hearts of men, young and old, cultivating in them the sincere desire for eternity.”
In his address, His All-Holiness referred to the extensive theological education of the new Bishop, who studied in Thessaloniki, Boston and St. Petersburg, but also spoke about his dedicated and exemplary ministry in the Holy Great Church of Christ, from the position of Great Synkellos, as well as his concern for the Slavic-speaking Orthodox living in Turkey, especially for those who live within the boundaries of the Holy Metropolis of Pisidia. Indeed, the Ecumenical Patriarch referred to the recently departed Metropolitan Pavlos of Sissanion and Siatista, “the charismatic shepherd, the lover of God and lover of mankind, the lover of worship and asceticism, who lovingly cared for the youth and their growth in Christ,” who had granted to the venerable Center of Orthodoxy (the Ecumenical Patriarchate) the Russian clergyman of his Eparchy, then-Archimandrite Ambrosios, in order to minister to the Russian-speaking people living in southwestern Turkey, as well as in other parts of the country.
Addressing the new Bishop, His All-Holiness said:
“You are called to minister to the Church of Christ in a place with particular characteristics. You have to be simple, meek, sensitive to human pain, loving. ‘Demonstrate the love of a true shepherd. For by love the Great Shepherd was crucified’ (Climacos, 6). Whatever you do must be for the glory of God and the strengthening of the faithful. In fact, your voice ought to be that of the only name under heaven “by which we are saved” (Acts 4:12), the “name above every name” (Philippians 2:9), of the Savior Christ. Whatever we are and whatever we have is a gift of His grace. What we do is the work of the Lord, that is done through us in His Holy Church.
“We have repeatedly indicated, and we repeat the statement at this sacred moment, that the Bishop of the Church is primarily a ‘minister,’ the presider at the Eucharistic assembly; All his work and his ministry, his sanctifying and pastoral work, is an extension of the grace and blessing of the eucharistic experience, deriving from that inexhaustible source from which is nourished the entire ecclesiastical life. Let us pray, most holy brethren and beloved children in the Lord, the God of mercy would guide the new Bishop in the work of ministry to His people.”
After the Divine Liturgy, Metropolitan Sotirios of Pisidia, whose Auxiliary Bishop of Evdokias will be, spoke briefly. “It is not an exaggeration if we characterize today as a historic day for our local church. Exactly 100 years ago, the renowned Bishop Meletios of Patara was installed in Antalya as Auxiliary Bishop, an historic ecclesiastical institution, where he illuminated the Hierarchy of the Ecumenical Throne,” said the Metropolitan of Pisidia, adding: “Today Divine Providence, through the holy hand of Your All-Holiness, installed here the God-loving Bishop of Evdokias, our beloved brother Ambrosios. This godly action of yours, Your All-Holiness, is added to the countless other beneficial actions of yours for our Eparchy and for Orthodoxy around your world. To this end, I submit to Your All-Holiness the most cordial thanks of the entire congregation of our local church, for accepting our common request, and after the unanimous vote of the holy and venerable Synod of our Ecumenical Patriarchate, you have given us today your eminent Great Synkellos, the beloved Ambrosios as Auxiliary Bishop.”
“Stay united around your Metropolitan”
At the end of the Divine Liturgy, after His All-Holiness gave the new bishop the episocpal staff, he addressed the Slavic-speaking faithful who reside in Antalya, and are part of the flock of the Metropolitan of Pisidia.
“It is an historic day for the community of Antalya and for the whole region. My visit today and our common prayer coincide with an unfortunate situation of Orthodoxy in general and particularly in the relations of the Mother Church of Constantinople and the daughter Church of Russia. Unfortunately, the sister Church of Russia decided to break communion with us, with the Ecumenical Patriarchate, in order to show her dissatisfaction over the issue of Autocephaly of the Church in Ukraine. We have not followed, we have not broken communion with her, she is a daughter of Constantinople, we always love her whatever happens, and today you heard in the Diptychs that I commemorated His Beatitude Patriarch Kirill. It is a temptation for all of us and a difficulty about which we will all pray. But, unfortunately, the Russian Church does not help, and it creates additional problems by sending priests un-canonically and against the rules, are liturgizing in various parts of Turkey. The same thing is done here in your own area. There is a priest who comes and liturgizes in Belek, and you know that Turkey is exclusively the canonical territory of the Ecumenical Patriarchate,” said the Ecumenical Patriarch, and he continued:
“I urge my brothers, all of you, to stay united around your Metropolitan, our brother Sotirios, and the new Bishop Ambrosios, and listen to their advice. We desire for peace and love to return quickly to our mutual relations. What I ask of you, as your Patriarch, is to have unity and obedience for your own Bishop, who has been struggling for eleven years despite his advanced age, and serves your religious needs in all languages. We thank Fr. Lambros and Fr. Vladimiros, who are ministering to your needs on a permanent basis. Our Ecumenical Patriarchate in Constantinople is always ready to cope with and respond to all the needs of the Holy Metropolis of Pisidia, and particularly the needs of your community here in Antalya. I was glad that I also saw today Fr. Constantine from Alania, with his faithful; I bless them and greet them all, and those in this community.
“We are pleased that living far from your homelands, while you are here for better living conditions, you are not deprived of the benefits of our Church and her blessings, but you have all our care for your spiritual progress in Christ. I bless all of you with all my heart on behalf of the Mother Church of Constantinople, and especially bless your charming children. May you have all the good things of God, I greet and salute you paternally.”
Present in the liturgy were clergymen, Athonite fathers, relatives of the new Bishop, and many faithful from the Constantinople, but also Russians, Ukrainians and other Slavic-speakers living in southwest Turkey, as well as a large number of pilgrims from Greece and abroad.
During the luncheon that followed afterwards, the newly-ordained Bishop Ambrosios expressed his gratitude and thanks to the Ecumenical Patriarch and the Metropolitans who constitute the holy and sacred Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, as well as to the Metropolitan of Pisidia, for his election as Bishop of Evdokias.