At the invitation of His Beatitude Patriarch Daniel of Romania, His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew arrived in Bucharest on 23 November 2018 to participate in the celebrations organized by the Church of Romania on the occasion of the inauguration of its new Cathedral. The Patriarch was accompanied by Metropolitan Emmanuel of France, Metropolitan Elpidophoros of Prousa, the Grand Archimandrite Bessarion and the Grand Archdeacon Theodoros, Mr. Nicholas Papachristou (Director of the Press and Communications Office of the Ecumenical Patriarchate) and Mr. Petros Bazagarlos from the Secretariat.
On 24 November, the Ecumenical Patriarch spoke to the Holy Synod of the hierarchy of the Patriarchate of Romania, expressing his hope that “the Romanian Orthodox Church will be involved in preserving church unity and justice”, underlining the close relationship of the two churches as well as the spiritual bounds between them. Concerning the Holy and Great Council, the Ecumenical Patriarch said that “there really was a historical moment in which Orthodoxy passed a faith test on the evangelical truth of the Church as the Body of Christ and the synodal tradition.” Addressing Patriarch Daniel of Romania, he stated: “Your Beatitude’s personal involvement in the historical achievement of the Holy and Great Council, your theological and dogmatic knowledge, as well as your way of honest, intelligent, brilliant and skilled way of participation at every stage, in collaboration with the other Primates, made everything to have a wonderful and invaluable conclusion.”
Regarding the ecclesial situation in Ukraine, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew pointed out that among the fourteen autocephalous Orthodox Churches, the nine younger ones have received their autocephaly from the Ecumenical Patriarchate. He informed the Synod of the decision of the Ecumenical Patriarchate to grant autocephaly to the Church of Ukraine in order to heal the long lasting schism in that country. He said that in order to solve this matter “another sacrificial kenosis of the mother heart of the Church of Constantinople is needed for the benefit of many millions of believers.” “We have hope in God’s help that the process of unification of the divided groups will soon end, in order to proceed to the convening and issuing of the Patriarchal and Synodal Tomos of the Church of Ukraine, thus becoming the newest Autocephalous Sister Church.”
On 25 November, the Ecumenical Patriarch concelebrated with His Beatitude the Patriarch of Romania for the consecration of the new cathedral dedicated to the Ascension of Christ and to the Holy Apostle Andrew. On that occasion, His All-Holiness pronounced the following homily:
After ascending the peaks of the spiritual feelings occasioned by the consecration of this Patriarchal Cathedral and by officiating the Holy Sacrament of the Divine Liturgy, we ascribe glory to the Triune God once again and thank him for the blessing and grace poured out bounteously upon us all.
Furthermore, we want to express our heartfelt thanks to His Beatitude Patriarch Daniel of Romania, our beloved brother in Christ whom we particularly appreciate, who is also the Metropolitan and Archpastor of the blessed capital city of Romania, for showing his abundant love and respect and that of the Most Holy Orthodox Church of Romania, whose Primate he is, towards the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the Mother Church of us all.
The same thanks we give for the kind invitation addressed to us with brotherly love to come and become communicants of the great joy experienced in this important hour for the well-believing Orthodox Romanians, our brothers and sisters, and to spiritually exclaim together with them, ‘Lord, I have loved the habitation of thy house, and the place where thine honour dwelleth. Alleluia.’
We always admire and worthily praise the vast theological culture of His Beatitude and his admirable diligence in carrying out the church activities, which are crowned with brilliant success.
We are connected to His Beatitude with our old personal, pure and sincerely tested friendship, but also with the unshaken, brotherly love in Christ and good understanding.
This fact is directly and positively reflected in the church ties between our Patriarchates.
Participating in the same spirit at today’s spiritual feast is once again a proof in this sense. We are convinced that this connection in Christ full of soulful, brotherly, sincere warmth in our interpersonal and inter-church relationships will continue forever.
It will renew itself and revitalize unceasingly not only for the profit of the Orthodox Church of Romania and the Ecumenical Patriarchate, but also for the benefit of the entire Orthodox Church.
His Beatitude is also a honorary locum tenes of the throne of the ancient Holy Metropolis of Caesarea of Cappadocia, where many saints war born. This was the Metropolis shepherded by our Father among the Saints Basil the Great, chief Father of the Church and great Teacher of the world.
Of course, such feelings of love and fellowship have all the members of the honourable hierarcy of the Romanian Patriarchate. All the members of the Church and the entire noteworthy Romanian people have always a special place in our heart.
Your Beatitude, today through the consecration of the Cathedral dedicated to the Ascension of the Lord and to Saint Andrew the First-Called, the Arsenal Hill, that is, the place where weapons were repaired and stored, turned into the Hill of Peace and Sanctification, the Hill of Grace and Blessing not only for Bucharest, but for the entire Romania.
The great spiritual lighthouse shining on its peak the new Cathedral and the Patriarchal Church will shine unto great distances the light of Christ and will convey the message of hope and salvation to those close and afar.
We entreat God to preserve it unto the end of ages, and may Your Beatitude and the honourable hierarchy around Your Beatitude, the holy clergy, the officials, and all sons and daughters of the Orthodox Church of Romania have many days, physical and spiritual health, and rejoice in the light of this lighthouse.
Please receive as visible blessing on behalf of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and ours personally for the new Patriarchal Cathedral this holy icon painted with much prayer, devotion and love in the Holy Mount Athos at our request.
When you will see it and bow down before it may you feel the fervent love we have towards Your Beatitude and we ask you to pray for the much-troubled Mother Church of Constantinople, for the Ecumenical Patriarch and for all those who lift up Christ’s cross and carry it, as Simon of Cyrene once lifted it up and carried it on the path to Golgotha.
Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you. Amen.
The Ecumenical Patriarch returned to Istanbul on 26 November.