Ὁ Φιλοπρωτεύων

September 17, 2018

Last week, the Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew, sent two exarchs into Ukraine for the purpose of setting up an independent patriarchate there, in what the Church of Moscow regards as, historically and canonically, its own territory, and where a third of its parishes are found. This action was taken by the Ecumenical Patriarch without consultation with the Orthodox Church at large, and in spite of clear statements from the Moscow Patriarchate that it considered such an action uncanonical, and that it would respond by breaking off communion. On Friday, the Holy Synod in Moscow declared that it was removing Bartholomew’s name from the diptychs, and would no longer commemorate him in hierarchical liturgies or participate in joint liturgical services with hierarchs of the Patriarchate of Constantinople; it further declared that it would “break off the participation of the Russian Orthodox Church in the Episcopal Assemblies and in the theological dialogues, multilateral commissions and any other structures chaired or co-chaired by representatives of the Patriarchate of Constantinople.” Any further moves by the Patriarch of Constantinople to establish a separate patriarchate in Ukraine, its communiqué stated, would result in a complete break in communion, i.e., the faithful under the Patriarch of Constantinople would not be allowed to receive the sacraments in churches under the Patriarch of Moscow, and the faithful under the Patriarch of Moscow would be directed not to receive sacraments at churches affiliated with Constantinople. Since there are many Russians resident in Turkey, this might mean the creation of a separate ecclesiastical organization upon Constantinople’s immediate territory (although, since the Turks do not allow Christians to build new churches, it may be that, within Turkey itself, such an organization would be strictly limited in its activities).

These are dismal, soul-destroying events, and I would agree with the Moscow Patriarchate that, behind them, there stands a new theory being asserted by the Patriarch of Constantinople about his own authority. As an example of what I mean by this, I would note a recent paper by the Metropolitan of Bursa, Elpidophoros Lambriniadis, which, in place of the usual Orthodox description of the authority of the primus as “first among equals,” pointedly characterizes the Patriarch of Constantinople as “first without equals,” primus sine paribus.

In response to these events, yesterday I composed a troparion, which I herewith present to readers of my blog, along with a translation and a recording. For the reference to “Diotrephes, who likes to put himself first,” see 3 John 9.

Ὁ φιλοπρωτεύων Βαρθολομαῖος εἰς τὴν Οὐκραϊνὴν δύο ἐξάρχους ἔστειλεν,
ὁ καὶ νέος Διοτρεφὴς αἰτία νέου σχίσματος ἐγένετο.
Νῦν κλαίουσι πάντες ἰδόντες τὴν Ὀρθοδοξίαν σπαραττομένην ὑπὸ τοῦ κοσμικοῦ κράτους,
νῦν στενάζουσιν, διότι τὸν μέγαν καὶ φιλόχριστον λαὸν τῆς Ῥωσσίας ἠτίμασεν.
Ὦ φιλάνθρωπε Χριστέ, δώρησαι τῷ κόσμῳ τὸ μέγα σου ἔλεος.
Bartholomew, who likes to put himself first, has sent two exarchs to Ukraine,
and the new Diotrephes has become the cause of a new schism.
Now all weep when they see Orthodoxy torn apart by the worldly power;
now they groan, because he has dishonored the great and Christloving people of Russia.
O Christ, lover of mankind, grant the world your great mercy.

 

2 Responses to “Ὁ Φιλοπρωτεύων”

  1. John Church Says:

    I am Catholic but I’ve been offering many prayers for the Orthodox Church over this conundrum. Lord have mercy. +

  2. bekkos Says:

    Thanks. I hope it can be resolved peacefully, but I have little expectation of this. Unfortunately, I think certain civil powers actually want such a schism to happen, as a way of further isolating Russia. The move to recognize Metropolitan Filaret as Patriarch of Ukraine was actually initiated by the Ukrainian government, which is entirely bankrolled, these days, by the United States. Hence the line, in the hymn, about Orthodoxy being torn apart by the “worldly power.”


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