venerdì 14 febbraio 2020

Romania's decision on Ukraine and Amman & more news
(a cura Redazione "Il sismografo")
(Peter Anderson) The Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Romania met yesterday in Bucharest. (link) To avoid the impression that a synaxis of the primates is being held in Amman, it decided that Patriarch Daniel should not go, but only a delegation from the Patriarchate of Romania. The press release (not yet available in English) from the Romanian Patriarchate also stated that the Amman meeting was being held from February 25-27. It is also extremely important to note that the press release also stated:
The Holy Synod also stated that it agrees with the granting of autocephaly for the entire Orthodox Church in Ukraine (not just a part), but this can only be achieved by a understanding between the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Patriarchate of Moscow and by a pan-Orthodox consensus.  This decision coming from one of the largest Local Orthodox Churches and one that is not aligned with either Moscow or Constantinople can definitely affect the final outcome of the Ukrainian dispute.

Until the press release from the Romania Patriarchate yesterday, the situation relating to the proposed meeting of the Orthodox primates in Amman at the end of February was confusing.  On February 12, Metropolitan Hilarion told Russian journalists in Rome that the Russian Church will participate in the event, which should be held on February 20, and that he believes that the Russian Church will be represented by its head. Metropolitan Hilarion also stated: The Jerusalem patriarch took the initiative to invite the heads of local Orthodox churches to Jordan.  Some of them have already responded positively, others have negatively.  But as far as I know, the Jerusalem patriarchy continues to work on the invitation of the heads of local churches, including the Patriarch of Constantinople.  On the same day in Moscow, Father Nikolai Balashov, deputy head of the DECR, told the Russian news agency Interfax:  We hope such a meeting will take place this month, and His Holiness Patriarch Kirill is prepared to attend.  He also stated that the dialogue “does not promise to be easy” and my require more than one meeting.  Unlike Metropolitan Hilarion, Father Nikolai only states that “we hope” that the meeting will occur this month.

On the other hand, the Greek website stated that Patriarch Theophilos has sent a second letter to the primates. Although there were not many positive responses from the primates,  the website states that “a possible date for the pan-Orthodox meeting seems to have been set for February 25th.”  The Greek website has stated that a second letter (in English) has been reportedly sent by Patriarch Theophilos to the primates inviting them to Amman on February 25.  According to the latter website, the churches of Constantinople, Alexandria, Cyprus, Greece, and Albania have refused to participate, while the churches of Russia, Antioch, Serbia, and Czech Lands and Slovakia have agreed to come.

In the meantime, there is only silence from the Patriarchate of Jerusalem on the subject.  Yesterday, Patriarch Theophilos met in Jerusalem with Greek Minister of Tourism Charis Theocharis. As far as I can determine, it was the Patriarch’s first public appearance since January 29 when he was in London enroute to the United States.

Although it had been previously reported that Archbishop Anastasios of Albania would not be attending the Amman meeting, the Church of Albania has now confirmed this by posting on its website the Archbishop’s January 8 letter to Patriarch Theophilos of Jerusalem. (Greek); (French translation of entire text)  The letter included the following statement:  Your proposal for a meeting in Jordan, however, as is now evident, instead of contributing to the improvement of unity, will further complicate the necessary therapeutic treatment. 

February 12 marked the fourth anniversary of the Havana meeting between Patriarch Kirill and Pope Francis.  This year’s anniversary observance was held in Rome.  Metropolitan Hilarion arrived in Rome for the observance on February 11 and met with Cardinal Kurt Koch that evening at the Domus Sanctae Marthae in the Vatican.  Their discussion focused particularly on the international Orthodox – Catholic theological dialogue.   On the morning of February 12,  Metropolitan Hilarion and Cardinal Koch chaired a meeting of the Joint Working Group on Cooperation between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Holy See.   The Group discussed a number of new projects in the cultural and social spheres for 2020-2021, particularly humanitarian assistance in Syria to those who suffered during the war.  In the afternoon and evening, there were the two major events of the anniversary observance --  a conference at the Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas on the subject, “The Saints – Signs and Seeds of Unity,” and a subsequent concert at the Basilica of Saint John Lateran, performed by the Synodal Choir of Moscow and the Papal Sistine Chapel Choir.  The conference, including the address by Metropolitan Hilarion, is described at and With respect to holy people, Metropolitan Hilarion described the lives of St. Seraphim of Sarov and the Dr. Friedrich Joseph Haass (1780 – 1853), a Catholic known as the “holy doctor of Moscow.”  On the evening of the concert, Metropolitan Hilarion gave an interview with Vatican Radio concerning the theme of the conference and his six-volume book on the life and teachings of Jesus. 

Yesterday morning, February 13, Metropolitan Hilarion met with Pope Francis.  The conference and the meeting of the Joint Working Group were discussed.  The Pope was given a book, published in Italian, concerning the visit of the relics of St. Nicholas to Russia in 2017.   

On February 8, President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine met with Pope Francis at the Vatican.  After the meeting, Zelensky stated:  I invited him to Ukraine.  I am sure he will be in Ukraine - not only in the capital.  I said that in order to fully understand what was happening in the east, it was necessary to go to the east.    The meeting lasted for approximately 30 minutes, after which the President met with Cardinal Parolin, the Vatican’s secretary of state.  The release of prisoners was one of the subjects discussed.  A short video of Zelensky’s meeting with the Pope can be viewed at .

The Holy Synod of the OCU met in Kyiv on February 4.  Because of Filaret’s absence from six consecutive meetings of the Synod, his membership in the Synod was suspended.  Filaret was also prohibited by the Synod from performing any ordinations.  With respect to another matter, the Synod condemned the action of Metropolitan Michael of Lutsk and Volyn, who had in effect amended the church calendar so as to allow a Christmas liturgy on both December 25 and January 7.   Also on February 4, Metropolitan Epifany, primate of the OCU, delivered an address to Ukrainian society on the occasion of the first anniversary of his enthronement.  The official English translation of the text of his address can be read at .

Archbishop Chrysostomos, primate of the Church of Cyprus, has returned to Cyprus from the United States following his successful surgery for liver cancer.  Archbishop Chrysostomos informed the media that he had received a telephone call from Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew wishing him a speedy recovery and inviting him to concelebrate with the Ecumenical Patriarch the liturgy on the feast of Orthodoxy, March 8, at the Phanar.  The Holy Synod of the Church of Cyprus met on February 12.  From the short announcement, there is no indication that the subject of Ukraine was discussed.

Peter Anderson, Seattle USA