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Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew Convenes Orthodox Summit to Resolve Jerus ...

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  • Debbora Berlinger
    http://www.hellenicnews.com/readnews.html?newsid=3514&lang=US Helenic News of America Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew Convenes Orthodox Summit to Resolve
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 3, 2005
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      http://www.hellenicnews.com/readnews.html?newsid=3514&lang=US

      Helenic News of America

      Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew Convenes Orthodox Summit to Resolve
      Jerusalem Crisis

      The Pan-Orthodox Synod convened in Istanbul by Ecumenical Patriarch
      Bartholomew, spiritual leader of 250 million Orthodox Christians, has
      voted to remove the name of Patriarch Eireneos of Jerusalem from the
      diptychs, or list of leaders of the Church. Acting quickly to resolve
      a crisis that threatens more violence in the Middle East, Bartholomew
      asserted the ancient authority of the Patriarchate of Constantinople,
      called Ecumenical since the 6th century AD, by gathering the leaders
      of the 14 Autocephalous Churches that comprise the Orthodox Church.

      The crisis within the Patriarchate of Jerusalem escalated to the
      level of world-wide Orthodoxy when Jerusalem Patriarch Eireneos
      rejected his dismissal by the leaders of the Jerusalem Church.
      Eireneos is implicated in real estate transactions with Jewish
      interests in the sacred "Old City" of Jerusalem that have enraged
      Palestinian Greek Orthodox Christians and Moslems and which threaten
      to spark new Arab-Israeli violence. Calls for his dismissal from the
      ranks of the clergy and the people in the region and from Jordanian
      and Palestinian officials led the Holy Synod of Bishops of Jerusalem
      to dismiss Eireneos

      Eireneos' rejection of the actions of the Jerusalem synod led to the
      Supreme Synod in Istanbul, which heard from Eireneos himself and
      deliberated for more than 8 hours. During his address to the Synod,
      Bartholomew argued that, "irrespective of Eireneos' culpability, the
      peace of the clerics and lay members of the Church of Sion [the
      Jerusalem

      (1)
      Patriarchate] has been broken, and cannot be restored without a
      sacrifice," meaning Eireneos resignation. When he refused , the Pan-
      Orthodox Synod decided to remove his name from the Orthodox diptychs.

      The decision of the Supreme Synod enabled the three-member committee
      temporarily heading the Synod of the Jerusalem to proceed with
      arrangements for Eireneos' successor. On Monday, May 30 they
      appointed Metropolitan Cornelios of Petra as vicar to oversee the
      administration of the Patriarchate. He will announce a date for the
      election of a new Patriarch. The process includes input from the
      clergy of the Jerusalem Church, the monks who comprise the ancient
      Brotherhood of the Holy Sepulchre, and the governments of Jordan,
      Israel and the Palestinian authority.
      Neither the Ecumenical Patriarch nor the Supreme Synod can "defrock"
      or remove Patriarch Eireneos, but their powerful concerted action
      puts extreme pressure on the Patriarch to resign or face being
      forcibly removed from office. The BBC reports that legally, Church
      leaders cannot dismiss Eireneos - that can only be done by the above
      three governments of the areas where his congregation lives.
      The Orthodox model of church governance differs radically from the
      structure of the Roman Catholic Church. The Orthodox Church is
      composed of autocephalous Churches who choose their own leaders and
      have administrative independence, but are in communion with one
      another and share common dogma and liturgy. Orthodoxy strives to
      preserve both unity and diversity but when action must be taken
      within autocephalous Churches or on matters of Pan-Orthodox concern,
      the Church relies on the unique and vital role of the Ecumenical
      Patriarch, headquartered in Istanbul, Turkey. Ecumenical Patriarch
      Bartholomew, who is considered the "First among

      (2)
      Equals" in the Orthodox hierarchy, is thus responsible for the well-
      being of the Orthodox Church as a whole. His authority is based on
      the Church's canon law established at the
      2nd and 4th Ecumenical Councils of 381 and 451 AD. Only the
      Ecumenical Patriarch can call Supreme Synods to resolve limited and
      interjurisdictional conflicts like the current one, and Great and
      Holy Councils to deliberate on matters of theology, canon law and
      other general issues.

      The Ecumenical Patriarch is the one who gathers. His power is based
      on the ancient canons (laws) of the Church and the Patriarchate's
      prestige. His primary tool is moral suasion and he benefits from the
      institution's longstanding reputation for good judgement, foresight,
      and fairness. Metropolitan Maximus of Sardes, in his tome The
      Oecumenical Patriarchate in the Orthodox Church, writes: "Always the
      presupposition of his power is that in using it he will hold to two
      principles: conciliarity and collegiality in the responsibilities of
      the Church and nonintervention in the internal affairs of the other
      Churches."

      The existence of Autocephalous Churches is sometimes cited as
      evidence of "disunity" The Orthodox reject this characterization.
      They stress that all the Orthodox Churches share common doctrine and
      liturgy that has been preserved from the earliest days of
      Christianity despite ancient and recent persecutions, invasions and
      the cultural and political upheavals of modernity. The synods are the
      principle means for maintaining unity and coordinating actions.
      Historical reasons are cited for lingering conflicts and delayed
      action—invasions and conquests in past centuries physically separated
      the Orthodox nations and their Churches so that synods and other
      vital gatherings were impossible.

      The hierarchs of Orthodoxy are to respect one another as brothers and
      their respective Churches are sister Churches. Although this is not
      always observed in practice, that is the ideal. It seems peculiar to
      the modern, perhaps cynical ear to read the texts of letters where
      hierarchs involved in bitter disputes refer to each other in polite
      terms such as "brother", but the purpose of this seemingly quaint
      practice is to remind the disputants of their absolute obligation to
      the founder of the Church, Jesus Christ, to maintain the brotherly
      and sisterly love among the different churches.

      Current events and preparations for a Pan-Orthodox Council serve to
      illustrate the international role of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
      Although the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew does not have the
      universal administrative power the Pope of Rome, his spiritual
      authority extends to all the Orthodox Churches and is therefore
      international. The Ecumenical Patriarchate also oversees Churches
      outside the traditional Orthodox states that have not achieved
      autocephalous status. There are eparchies or jurisdictions throughout
      Western Europe, North and South America, Australia and Asia.

      The numerous visits of heads of state, religions and international
      organizations to the Patriarchate in Istanbul is testament to the
      fact Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew is not merely the spiritual
      leader of the Greeks or of the dwindling Orthodox population in
      Turkey. Presiding over conferences and summits pertaining to the
      global environment, relations among the world's religions and social
      and ethical matters, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew is witness to
      the responsibilities and contributions of the Orthodox Church
      regarding matters of concern to all humanity.

      The exclusive ability of the Ecumenical Patriarch to summon an
      Ecumenical Council, a Great and Holy Council of the entire Church, is
      the mark of the Patriarchate's international status par excellence.
      The Orthodox Church has been preparing for such a council for many
      years through the necessary meetings and conferences under the
      initiative and supervision of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. The fall
      of communism in Europe and the liberation of the Churches there has
      removed perhaps the last major obstacle. The liberation of those
      nations and modern technology now enables the principle of
      autocephaly to properly express the unity and diversity of the
      Orthodox Church. Each Orthodox Church's culture brings spiritual,
      artistic and intellectual richness to the Orthodox Church and the
      entire world.

      Constantine Sirigos serves as consultant to the Order of St. Andrew,
      Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in America. He holds a masters
      degree in International Relations from Georgetown University and has
      written extensively on the Orthodox Church and religion in
      international affairs.
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