Inter-Orthodox Pre-Assembly Consultation of the World Council of Churches held in Cyprus

Fifty-two delegates representing 20 Eastern and Oriental Orthodox World Council of Churches member Churches participated in the Pre-Assembly Consultation in Paralimni, Cyprus, on 9-16 May, 2022 in preparation to the WCC 11th Assembly to be held in Karlsruhe, Germany from 31 August to 8 September 2022. Since 1983, the WCC has convened an Inter-Orthodox Pre-Assembly Consultation prior to its Assemblies. The purpose of this year’s Consultation in Cyprus was to articulate the Orthodox perspective on the theme of the Assembly, ‘Christ’s love moves the world to reconciliation and unity’, prepare the delegates for their fullest participation, and express their expectations of the upcoming Assembly and life in the WCC and beyond.

Cypriot presidential commissioner Photis Photiou shared an opening welcome, commending the Orthodox churches for coming together, and thanking the World Council of Churches for providing “an open platform” for dialogue and for listening to one another. The local host of the meeting, H.E. Metropolitan Vasilios of Constantia and Ammochostos (Orthodox Church of Cyprus), also shared words of welcome and reflected on the ongoing quest for reconciliation. He thanked those attending for their willingness to work toward a vision for the assembly.

The Primate of the Church of Cyprus, Archbishop Chrysostomos II, welcomed members of the WCC Inter-Orthodox Pre-Assembly at his residence in Nicosia, Cyprus, on 12 May, the Feast of Saint Epiphanius. The meeting acknowledged contributions from the Church of Cyprus to the ecumenical movement, as well as the aspiration of Churches to see a united island, partitioned as result of the Turkish invasion in 1974.

The delegates approved a report of the Consultation that will be shared with all Eastern and Oriental Orthodox member churches and offered it as an Orthodox contribution to the 11th Assembly for the wider ecumenical fellowship, in which they stated stated their “grave concern over the armed conflict in Ukraine that has already claimed many people’s lives” and being “unanimous in condemning the wars”, calling “upon all the parties involved in the conflicts to do everything within their power for the urgent establishment of peace and for ensuring safety in Ukraine, Russia, Europe, and the whole world.”

The Ecumenical Patriarch in Saudi Arabia

His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew participated in the Forum for Promoting Common Values among the Followers of Religions, which took place on 10-12 May, 2022, in Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, at which he delivered a keynote address at the beginning of the proceedings of the international conference.

In his address, the Ecumenical Patriarch underlined that an “essential function of religion is peacemaking” and added that “in our times, the credibility of religions largely depends on their commitment to peace”. And he underlined that “given the tremendous contemporary challenges, the most appropriate way to peace and reconciliation is sincere interreligious dialogue and mutual respect”.

His All-Holiness was accompanied by His Eminence Senior Metropolitan Emmanuel of Chalcedon, the Third Patriarchal Deacon Kallinikos and Archon Mr. Panteleimon Vigas.

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.