The Serbian Patriarch Mr. Irenaeus sent a long letter to the Ecumenical Partiarchate, where he analyses the progress of the discussion regarding the presence of ethnophiletism in the Orthodoxy of today, which took place in the Holy Assembly of the Serbian Church.
Romfea.gr released fragments from the fifteen pages long letter of Mr. Irenaeus to the Patriarch Bartholomew.
The reason for this letter was the anxiety of the Holy Synod and the Patriarch regarding the Orthodox Church unity, after the intervention of certain Archierei of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in connection with the request for granting a Tomos of Autocephaly to the Ukrainian schismatic elements “disregarding the will… of the Russian Orthodox Church…, and in the name of the previous ecclesiastic motherhood, as a newly appeared canonical parameter” and that “such similar argument is being planned for the schismatic ‘Macedonian Orthodox Church’”. “The heresy of ethnophiletism is one of the essential problems of modern Orthodoxy”, is stated among the other things.
Further on, the Serbian Patriarch stresses that the modern secular states are trying to take advantage of the Church in favor of their ideology and authority, and in order to achieve this they resort to the harmful ethnophiletism and the secular state-centered way of thinking and gradually they “succeed in the one and only goal – to threaten the ecumenical and universal character of God’s Church, thus endangering its original mission among all the nations”.
The Patriarch Irenaeus wrote: “The states, nations and ‘nations’, which demand autocephaly, but in fact this is an act of their regimental ‘political formations’, and openly justify their harmful activity with the state and national benefit (Ukraine, ‘North Macedonia’, Montenegro…) are communist creations and so far most of them are governed by atheists, like the unbaptized and atheistic ruler of Montenegro, or the ‘formal faithful’ governing Ukraine, who can be seen with the canonical Church, but also with the schismatics and the uniates. They don’t ask for autocephalous Churches as their faithful members, but in order to use them better, or even to abuse them for the purpose of achieving their worldly and basically atheistic ideology, authority and selfish goals. We are talking about an extreme abuse of the Church and faith”.
“So the Church is allowed to tolerate such abuse? The one which was assigned the mission to transform and save the fallen world, is now allowed to obey and please it? “ – these are the first questions which the Head of the Serbian Church addresses to the Ecumenical Patriarchate, “our Mother Church, with the authority of a firsthand Church, called to preserve unselfishly and with great sacrifice the unity of the Church”.
According to the opinion of the Serbian Patriarch Irenaeus, “there couldn’t be any conditions, or influences, or pressures which could justify undertaking any kind of reckless action on its part, action that could harm the All-Orthodox unity and prolong the schisms, instead of overcoming and curing them”.
Having in mind Ukraine, the Serbian Patriarch considers “as a very dangerous, even disastrous, thus fatal for the Orthodox unity, the act of reinstating the schismatic Bishops and recognizing their titles, especially of their leader, the schismatic ‘Patriarch’ of Kiev Filaret Denisenko, as well as restoring the liturgical and canonical communication with the schismatic communities, without asking first that they repent and restore the unity with the Russian Orthodox Church which they have separated from, disregarding the disagreement of the Moscow Patriarchy.”
Also, the Serbian Patriarch stresses that the interference of the blessedly reposed Gregory VII in the matters of the Russian Church and his attitude towards Patriarch Tichon (whom he advised to resign), as well as the support for the schism of the “Revivalists” from the period of 1920, should in no case be considered as an example to be followed.
According to the author of this letter, the act of rehabilitation of the Ukrainian schismatics, “would simultaneously mean an unbrotherly attitude towards the martyred Church in the Russian countries”, something which the Serbian Patriarch would never expect from the “Great Martyred Church of Christ”.
Commenting on the attitude for the alleged placing of the Kiev Metropoly under the jurisdiction of Constantinople, and that it “has always beloged to it”, the Patriarch Irenaeus wonders “how can one explain the fact that for such a long period now – more than three centuries – even today – the Moscow Patriarchy has the jurisdiction over Kiev, without any objection from the other Churches, including the Great Church of Christ?”, and finally concludes that “the available historical sources are not in favor of the argument that Moscow has no authority over Kiev”.
He also mentioned that the criteria of “antiquity”, “ancient customs”, and “generally accepted relations”, established in the holy canonical tradition and practice, support the ecclesiastical rights of the Russians over Kiev.
The Patriarch Irenaeus reminds that the Crete Assembly confirmed the existence of fourteen autocephalous Orthodox Churches within their present canonical borders. “Through the specific assertation of the Crete Assembly, it is implicitly confirmed that the autonomous Church of Ukraine is under the jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchy as its organic part.”
Stressing the fact that the Constantinople Church is equally a Mother Church of both Kiev and Moscow, as well as of Pech, Trnovo, etc., the Serbian Patriarch notices: “The honour and dignity of ecclesiastical motherhood however doesn’t give the Mother Church the right to recall or deny the historically established autocephalies and jurisdictions.”
From the above-stated one can conclude that the Ecumenical Patriarchate cannot make a decision of its own, without consulting the Serbian and the Russian Church, in regards to the future of the Ohrid Archbishopric and the Kiev Metropoly, respectfully.
The letter emphasizes that the process of establishing and recognizing new autocephalies has already been agreed upon by the Local Orthodox Churches. It has been decided that Constantinople could only be a coordinator of this issue. After a proposal is placed by the Church concerned, in accordance with the procedure of granting autocephaly to some of its Dioceses, the Church announces this to the other Local Orthodox Churches, and after the consultation with them the issue is settled on the basis of their joint decision. “On this matter a final official text can be found in the periodical with the meetings record, published by the Centre of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Chambesy.
The Serbian Patriarch mentions: “This is a generally accepted attitude of the Local Orthodox Churches, and not an attitude of just one of the Archierei of Your Holy Church, namely that the Ecumenical Seat could all by himself, without the others, grant or recall autocephalies, and that it has been acting like this for more than one thousand and three hundred years (!)”
Elsewhere the Patriarch Irenaeus addresses the Ecumenical Patriarch in such manner: In no way have we been inspired by a certain thought, nor a wish to offend You, Your Holiness, we have no inclination to make you sad or offended, but it’s our duty to remind You of Your promise, given in Chambesy, in the presence of all the Heads of the Local Churches – and mine too- that You have no intention of interfering in the issue with the Ukrainian Church”.
The letter of the Serbian Patriarch pays a lot of attention to the danger of violating the jurisdiction rights of his own Church in Montenegro, “where the parasinagogue or the sect deprived of Divine grace which calls itself the Montenegro Church…and its older ‘sister’ in Skopje, promises and brags that after the granting of autocephaly to the Ukrainian schismatics, it too would be given a recognition and autocephaly.”
Speaking about the leaders of the schismatics in Montenegro and Ukraine, the Serbian Patriarch concludes that the Montenegro issue is connected with the one in Ukraine and that the non-canonical clergy of FYROM and Republic of Montenegro also hope to be reinstated, along with Denisenko.
The Patriarch Irenaeus believes that such a thing would be tragically unreasonable from the nomocanon aspect.
As a conclusion, the Head of the Serbian Church appeals that the Ecumenical Patriarch should restrain himself from any action, while at the same time praying to our Lord Christ that He gives the Mother Church courage “not to be affected by the pressure, as well as wisdom from above, to remain forever and always faithful to itself, to its mission and service”.