The Church of Ohrid restored into eucharistic communion

The Holy and Sacred Synod convened on Monday May 9, 2022, under the chairmanship of His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, and discussed extensively the ecclesiastical matter of Skopje. Having assessed in its final stage the petition of appeal of that Church to the Mother Church, along with the repeated pleas of the State of North Macedonia, it made the following decisions:

1. It welcomes into eucharistic communion the Hierarchy, clergy and laity under Archbishop Stefan of this Church, thereby healing the wound of schism and pouring “oil and wine” on the ordeal of our Orthodox brethren in that country. To this end, the appropriate Patriarchal and Synodal Act is issued.

2. It cedes to the Most Holy Church of Serbia the regulation of the administrative matters between itself and the Church in North Macedonia, in the context of course of the sacred canonical order and church tradition.

3. It recognizes “Ohrid” as the name of this Church (understood as the region of its jurisdiction solely within the boundaries of the territory of the state of North Macedonia), as also promised in writing to the Ecumenical Patriarchate by its Primate. Thereby excluding the term “Macedonian” and any other derivative of the word “Macedonia.”

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The sanctification of Holy Chrism at the Ecumenical Patriarchate

The sanctification of Holy Chrism took place with special splendor and solemnity in the morning of Holy Thursday, 21 April, 2022, at the Ecumenical Patriarchate during the Patriarchal and Synodal Divine Liturgy, presided by His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew in concelebration with the members of the Holy and Sacred Synod.

Holy Chrism is consecrated on Holy Thursday about every ten years at the Ecumenical Patriarchate for use in the sacrament of Holy Chrismation, for the reception of Christian converts joining the Orthodox Church and for the consecration of holy churches and altars. For more than a millennium, this sacred ceremony is taking place at the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the first throne of world Orthodoxy, with the presence of representatives from different local Orthodox Churches, thus manifesting the bond of unity all Orthodox Christians throughout the world.

The General Secretary of the Conference of European Churches at the Ecumenical Patriarchate

On 31 March, 2022, the General Secretary of the Conference of European Churches, Dr Jørgen Skov Sørensen, visited the offices of the Ecumenical Patriarchate at the Phanar, in Istanbul. The General Secretary of the CEC, accompanied by the Executive Secretary for Theological Dialogue, Mrs. Katerina Pekridou, was received by the His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and had the opportunity to discuss current issues, with emphasis on the dramatic developments in Ukraine, as well as the preparation of the General Assembly of CEC, which is scheduled for June 2023 in Tallinn, Estonia.

Ecumenical Patriarch visited Ukrainian refugees in Poland

On 27 March, 2022, His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, accompanied by His Eminence Elder Metropolitan Emmanuel of Chalcedon and the Very Reverend Grand Syncellus Iakovos Krochak, traveled to Poland to meet Ukrainian refugees at the invitation of the President of the Republic of Poland, His Excellency Andrzej Duda, and the Primate of the Orthodox Church of Poland, His Beatitude Metropolitan Sawa of Warsaw. At the airport, His All-Holiness was met by His Beatitude Metropolitan Sawa, His Eminence Archbishop George of Wroclaw, and representatives of the Chancellery of the President of the Republic of Poland.

From the airport, the Ecumenical Patriarch went to the Orthodox Cultural Center, where he had a meeting with the clergy, faithful of the Church, refugees from Ukraine and the local Greek community for whom services are held in the chapel. After a short prayer for peace in the world and Ukraine, His Beatitude welcomed the Ecumenical Patriarch on the Polish soil. He pointed to the spiritual ties which exist between the Church of Poland and the Ecumenical Patriarchate. The Patriarch, thanking for the welcome, addressed the refugees from Ukraine with cordial words and presented them gifts of aid. A dinner followed then at the Metropolitan’s Residence during which the situation of Orthodoxy in Poland, in the world, and especially in Ukraine was addressed.

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Ecumenical Patriarch to visit Ukrainian refugees in Poland

The Ecumenical Patriarchate announces that the President of the Republic of Poland, His Excellency Andrzej Duda, has officially invited His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew to visit his homeland in order to bless, console and strengthen the countless refugees taking shelter in the country following the outbreak of war in Ukraine.His All-Holiness, having also received a similar invitation from the Primate of the Orthodox Church of Poland, His Beatitude Metropolitan Sawa of Warsaw, intends to accept and visit the temporary refugee shelters there, accompanied by His Eminence Elder Metropolitan Emmanuel of Chalcedon and the V. Rev. Grand Syncellus Iakovos Krochak.

The Sunday of Orthodoxy at the Ecumenical Patriarchate

The Sunday of Orthodoxy was celebrated with all solemnity due to the centuries-old tradition on 13 March, 2022, at the Phanar in the presence of the Prime Minister of Greece Mr. Kyriakou Mitsotakis. The Divine Liturgy was preceded by His All-Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, assisted by theirs Eminences Elder Metropolitan Demetrios of the Princes’ Islands, Archbishop Nektarios of Anthidonos, Representative of the Holy Sepulcher in Constantinople, and Metropolitans Seraphim of Sevastia, Irinaios of Myriophytos and Peristasis, Chrysostomos of Myra, Nikandros of Irinopolis, Polykarpos of Italy, Amphilochios of Adrianopolis, Gerasimos Petra and Cheronissos and Andreas of Saranta Ekklisies. During the celebration, the monk Barnabas was ordained a deacon from the Monastery of the Holy Patriarchal and Stavropegial Monastery of Saint John the Baptist in Essex (Great Britain). The solemn homily was pronounced by His Eminence Archbishop Nikitas of Thyateira and Great Britain.

Hierarchs of the Ecumenical Throne, clergy, monks of Mount Athos and Archons of the Great Church of Christ were also present as well as the Ambassador of Greece to Turkey and members of the official Delegation that accompanied the Prime Minister of Greece, the Consuls General of Greece and Ukraine in Istanbul and many believers from the city and abroad.

Prior to the ordination of the new deacon, the Ecumenical Patriarch, in his speech, referred to the tragic events unfolding in Ukraine and called for an immediate end to the invasion and war and for a new opportunity for dialogue. At the end of the Divine Liturgy, His All-Holiness with the collaborating Hierarchs performed the established memorial prayer for the rest of the souls of all “those who fought for the Orthodox faith and died in it”. In a short greeting to the Prime Minister of Greece, His Holiness warmly welcomed him to the see of the First Throne of Orthodoxy, and in his person thanked the Greek State for its continued interest in the issues of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. He wished him a successful upcoming meeting with the President of the Republic of Turkey, and again referring to the dramatic situation in Ukraine, reiterated the support of the Ecumenical Patriarchate to the agressed Ukrainian people. The procession of the Holy Icons followed in the courtyard of the Patriarchate during which the Ecumenical Patriarch blessed the faithful.

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew: End the war now!

Statement by His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew about the War in Ukraine

(Sunday, February 27th, 2022)

Even in the most unfavorable circumstances, such as today, where the world community is following with horror Russia’s, beyond every sense of law and morality, military attack and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, an independent and sovereign state, or perhaps even more so now as the fiercest conflict since the time of World War II unfolds in Europe, in our neighborhood, we direct our prayers to the Lord Jesus, the Ruler of peace, asking Him with a fervent soul that He “will give strength to His people” and “bless His people with peace” (cf. Psalm 27:11). The Holy Great Church of Christ unceasingly chants the angelic hymn throughout the ages: “peace on earth and good will to men.”

Indeed, during the last few days, a tragic humanitarian catastrophe is unfolding in Ukraine. A war, which, like any war, is an abominable and reprehensible situation. It is the domination of irrationality over reason, hatred over love, darkness over light, death over life.

Again, from this position, we address another plea to end the war now! To immediately stop any act of violence, anything that spreads pain and death. Let reason prevail, love for fellow human beings, reconciliation and solidarity, the light of the Risen Christ, the gift of life.

We express our full sympathy to our brother, the Primate of the Church of Ukraine, His Beatitude Metropolitan Epiphanios of Kyiv, and our unwavering support to all the seriously suffering Ukrainian people, who have a deep faith in God and chose to live freely and to determine their own lives, as every nation deserves. Although, unfortunately, some have come, these days, to the point of questioning even their historical and national existence.

Our thoughts are constantly with the wounded and with the families of the innocent victims, irrespective of their ethnic identity, and we pray for the rest of their souls to the Lord of Life and Death. We are certain that the Lord will hear our prayers and will not abandon his beloved children in Ukraine.

The Ecumenical Patriarch condemns the unprovoked Russian invasion of Ukraine and expresses His solidarity to the suffering Ukrainian people

Shocked by the invasion of the armed forces of the Russian Federation in the territory of Ukraine this morning, His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew telephoned His Beatitude Metropolitan Epiphanios, Primate of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, expressing his deep sorrow at this blatant violation of any notion of international law and legality, as well as his support to the Ukrainian people struggling “for God and country” and to the families of innocent victims.

His All-Holiness condemns this unprovoked attack by Russia against Ukraine, an independent and sovereign state of Europe, as well as the violation of human rights and the brutal violence against our fellow human beings and, above all, against civilians. He prays to the God of love and peace to enlighten the leadership of the Russian Federation in order to understand the tragic consequences of its decisions and actions, which can even be the trigger for a global military conflict. He calls on the leaders of all states, European institutions and international organizations to work for a peaceful settlement of this critical situation through candid dialogue, which is the only means of resolving any problem and facing any challenge.

The Ecumenical Patriarch fraternally calls on the Local Orthodox Churches, as well as all Christians, but also every person of goodwill, in unceasing prayer for the Ukrainian people and for the prevalence of peace and justice in Ukraine.

Call for Peace in Ukraine from the Ecumenical Patriarch

On February 13, 2022, His All-HolinessEcumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, after the Divine Liturgy for the Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee, made the following call for peace in Ukraine:

Honorable Consuls General, Beloved children in the Lord,

On this Sunday, dedicated to the parable of the Publican and the Pharisee, marking the entrance to a period of penitence, fasting and ascetical struggles as preparation for the Holy and Great Pascha, we are called to fervent prayer with all our hearts for the preservation of peace in Ukraine. Indeed, the possibility of a new war in Europe, resulting from the escalation of violent rhetoric and militarization of the borders between Russia and Ukraine, should be unequivocally opposed. We call for enduring peace, stability and justice in the region. Peace is a matter of choice and must be shared by all the forces engaged in this extremely complex and sensitive geopolitical context. The duty of us all is to pray for and actively contribute to a peaceful resolution of conflict situations and to the unconditional respect and protection of human rights and dignity. Human conflict may very well be inevitable in this fallen and broken world; but war and violence are certainly to be opposed with every fiber of our being.

The ancient Greeks spoke about “peace” (“εἰρήνη”) as a condition “exceedingly rich and immensely fruitful” (“βαθύπλουτος καὶ βαθύκαρπος”). They adored peace as a goddess, depicted with her son Plutos (“Wealth”) in her bosom. Closer to our times, Benjamin Franklin reminded us that “there never was a good war or a bad peace.” War can appear sweet only to those who have not experienced it (“γλυκὺ δὲ πόλεμος ἀπείροισιν”). Indeed, if we allow our hearts and minds to freely express themselves, without any fear or passion, they will certainly not speak in favor of war, but they will unequivocally praise peace.

We firmly believe that there is no solution possible to preserve and guarantee peace outside the path of dialogue, which abolishes the conditions that lead to violence and war. Peace comes from mutual respect and cooperation. Within an environment of growing uncertainty with regard to human affairs, the word of the Church has to be a clear message of reconciliation and peace, of love and justice, of brotherhood and solidarity.

We call upon all parties involved to pursue this path of dialogue and respect for international law, in order to bring an end to the conflict and allow all Ukrainians to live in harmony. Arms are not the solution. On the contrary, they can only promise war and violence, sorrow and death. As our beloved brother Francis, the Pope of Rome, recently said: “Let us not forget: war is madness.” All Church ministers, all representatives of religious traditions, all those in position of authority, all people of good will, each one of us, should call for a peaceful resolution of this dangerous escalation of words and means that weight heavily and ominously upon the head of the Ukrainian people. Silence and indifference are not an option. There is no peace without constant vigilance. Therefore, we are all “sentenced” to peace, which means, destined to the permanent struggle for its establishment and defense.

May the God of love and peace bless you all!