On December 13 in Constantinople, Patriarch Bartholomew celebrated the holy apostle Andrew’s feast day (old calendar) at the metochion of the Vatopedi monastery, which serves the Russian-speaking Orthodox. In his homily at the end of the Divine Liturgy, he addressed recent developments.
He described the decision made by “the Most Holy Church of Russia, the brother-Patriarchate of Moscow” to break the Eucharistic communion with the Ecumenical Patriarchate, “the Mother Church” as extreme. The Patriarch declared:
“Today, as I find myself among you, my dear children, as every year on this day, I know there is concern and dilemma among you. I will be sincere with you, we are a family, I am your father and you are my spiritual children. This concern and dilemma that prevail in the Russian parish of our City and in Turkey in general, is due to the extreme decision made by the Most Holy Church of Russia, the brother-Patriarchate of Moscow, to break the Eucharistic Communion with the Ecumenical Patriarchate, that is to say with their Mother Church.
We may have different views on various issues that concern the entire Orthodox Church, it is human and democratic, but breaking the Eucharistic communion as a lever of pressure and a means of coercion, so that others will agree with their views, this is unacceptable. I am sure that soon, the sister Church of Russia will do penance for their extreme decision”.
Later on in the same homily, the Patriarch added:
“When the sister Church of Russia tells you not to come to Church, not to confess, not to receive communion in the Constantinople Patriarchate churches, it creates a moral dilemma for you. Do not listen to them, do not worry, because your pastor, your spiritual father here in Turkey, is the patriarch of Constantinople, he is the ecumenical patriarch”.
He urged the faithful to attend all the Orthodox churches in Turkey, including the St. Andrew metochion, made available to the Russian-speaking community of Constantinople. The Patriarch then explained that such distressing situations are created when, in jurisdictional cases, purely ecclesiological and canonical issues get mixed up with national and phyletist factors. He pointed out that ethnophyletism was condemned as a heresy at the 1872 Synod that took place in Constantinople.
“The canons of the Orthodox Church tell us that in every city, there must be only one bishop. He is the spiritual father of all the faithful, of all the Orthodox who live in that city, regardless whether they are Greek, Russian, Romanian, Ukrainian, etc. We apply this here in Constantinople. The patriarch of Constantinople is the archpastor of the Greeks, the Russians, as here; of the Romanians, to whom we gave a church, and I asked the patriarch of Romania to send a priest to celebrate in their language; and of the Bulgarians who live here in Constantinople. All are the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s children. The Bulgarians in Constantinople are not under the patriarch of Bulgaria. The Russians here are not under the patriarch of Russia. It would not be Orthodox, canonical, or ecclesiological. We, all the Orthodox living here in Constantinople, whoever we are, whatever our ethnic origin, we are one family under the Archbishop and Archpastor of Constantinople, and he is the Ecumenical Patriarch”.
The Patriarch also emphasized that our Russian Orthodox brethren received the Christian baptism and faith from Constantinople, and that in the 16th century, the Russian Church received the autocephaly and patriarchal dignity from the ecumenical Patriarchate.
“Today, in the present conditions, from the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the Mother Church of the Russian Orthodox also, we send them the wishes and blessing of their Mother Church, in Russia and wherever the Russians are scattered throughout the world”.
Source in Greek