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Delegation from Alexandria visits Phanar & other orthodox news

(Peter Anderson) On January 22, a delegation from the and met with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew.Patriarchate of Alexandria visited the Phanar and met with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew.  At the meeting, the establishment of an exarchate in Africa by the Moscow Patriarchate was discussed.  The delegation also gave the Ecumenical Patriarch a letter from Patriarch Theodoros of Alexandria.(link) The three-person delegation consisted of Metropolitan Gregory of Cameroon, Metropolitan Ioannis of Zambia, and Bishop Prodromos of Toliara and South Madagascar.  At the January 10-12 meeting of the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Alexandria, Metropolitan Gregory was the hierarch who made the main presentation relating to the Moscow Patriarchate’s actions in Africa.  The full text of his presentation at the Holy Synod can be read at (link) (in Greek).

On January 21, immediately before the trip to the Phanar, Metropolitan Gregory gave an interview on Pemptousia Radio. (link) (includes a recording of the entire 33-minute interview in Greek).  The Metropolitan talked about calling a meeting of the primates of the Ancient Patriarchates [Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem] and the Archbishop of Cyprus in response to the actions of the Moscow Patriarchate in Africa.  To this end, he said, a delegation of the Patriarchate of Alexandria will go first to the Phanar and then to the other Patriarchates to inform about the issues that have arisen.  We now know that the first step of this plan of action has in fact occurred.  It is likely that the delegation will next travel to Jerusalem and Damascus. 

If the four primates of the ancient patriarchates and the archbishop of Cyprus do meet, it is extremely likely that the three of them who have already recognized the OCU will condemn the actions of the Moscow Patriarchate in Africa.  However, one can hope and pray that if a meeting does occur, it may be something more than a short meeting with a vote of three to two.  It is possible, with the aid of the Holy Spirit, that there can be an in-depth discussion between the five primates leading to a balanced solution acceptable to all five of them.  That would be a great step forward.

A native African priest, who was among the first priests of the Patriarchate of Alexandria to appeal to the Moscow Patriarchate, has given an interview at (link).  His answer included the following:

People in Tanzania and from other African countries are very attracted with Orthodox faith when they hear about its teachings.  The main problems of Orthodoxy in Africa is the Greeks, the way they are doing a mission.  The Greeks are not in Africa for the spiritual life.  They are here for their own profit through the umbrella of the Church.  They take photos of poor people and find money through these Africans.  Greeks don’t teach people but give sweets.  This way doesn’t help the Orthodoxy to grow in the spiritual life.  The second problem is the discrimination in the Church and weak leadership.  The Greeks of the Patriarchate of Alexandria don’t teach people in Africa, looking at them as a third people.  There are many problems here in Orthodoxy of Africa but I can’t mention all.

A native African, Bishop Neofitos (Kongai) of Nyeri and Mt. Kenya of the Patriarchate of Alexandria, has written a very long letter in English on his Facebook page.  (link)  The letter is addressed to Kenyan clergy and also to all African clergy in Africa.  The entire letter is worth reading.  Here are a few excerpts from the letter:

There is an African proverb that says “when two bulls fight, it is the grass that suffers.”  The “grass” is really suffering at the moment because of what is happening at the top of the ecclesiastical pyramid of our One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.  Because of this, the Church in Africa is bruised and spiritually wounded.  Because of this, most of you our beloved clergy, the oil of your patience, love and humility has gone dry.  Now, you have decided to write letters or sign documents to pay your priestly oath of allegiance to the Patriarchate of Moscow which by speaking in human terms did not give you the priesthood…. You know, right now you are thinking and seeing yourself as an individual but when a whole multitude of the faithful are involved our church will turn into chaos like a mad house.  Regrets comes after an action.  For this reason, I make this special request as your Bishop and your brother unworthy as I am that it is never too late to bring your hearts and minds back home.  As this will be happening hopefully soon, it’s never too late to be truthful and real to matters that concern us as Africans.  It is not rocket science to know that there are so many problems that face us and our church.  They are visible as the stars in the darkest night.  But do we solve these problems by running away from them?  Obviously not!  All these calls for us to develop a very well-formed problem statement that opens avenues of discussion and options.  Our Patriarchate is engaging it at the top, let us also engage ourselves down here because we are the “grass” that is suffering.

This light was given to us to be put on the mountain tops so that others can come and see.  If what is motivating or taking us to Russia is nothing theological, nothing historical, nothing spiritual but hunger strike, then why can’t we find an African solution to it?  By finding an African solution to it, means coming together as a Kenyan church and her leadership and hold this bull called poverty by its horns.  Are you forgetting that we have tried for centuries to find a Greek solution, an American solution, a Cypriot solution, an Australian solution, a Finnish solution to an African problem but they never and have never worked until this day?  That is why we are still poor, stuck, spiritually handicapped and unproductive in our missions.

Instead of finding the real root cause of the problem, some us have already immersed themselves into this false thinking that by joining the Russian church everything is going to be heaven on earth.  Far from truth!  Because a few years ago we were singing the same song about Greece and Greek bishops, Cyprus and Cypriot bishops.  Now, that the machine that mints euros for Africa seems to be drying up and God forbid, we have started calling them names and running away from them as far as our legs can carry us.  We are easily forgetting that these bishops who have come to Africa especially Kenya because I have seen what they have done with my own eyes have educated us and our children, build houses for us, paid hospital bills, built churches, clinics and schools just to name them but a few.  It is unfortunate that those who have benefited the most are the first ones to raise the Russian flag for others to follow.

It is time we step in and find something tangible, something powerful, strong and eternal that really works for Africans and the church of Africa.  We have to grow our church from the inside out, by finding something that really works for Africa and Africans.  Nobody will grow this church for us alone and you are all aware of this….  This habit of painting ourselves as black Greeks, black Cypriots and now black Russians should stop.  Let us not be too naïve, let us be real and say it as it is without flinching.  Teach and preach to your faithful to own and take responsibility.  Our faithful are ready to listen and take action.  My dear friends, spiritual children and the faithful of our church, I am speaking to you as an African.  Not just an African human being but as an African Bishop of our esteemed Patriarchate of Alexandria and all Africa that please, kindly try to reconcile your hearts and thoughts and return back home.  Your cross-over will be a cut-over at the heart and peace of our church that we have labored for it for so many years.  Listen, unless we create our own leaders, who understand our deep and internal problems, unless we appreciate our own sons, love and embrace them no matter how they look like, we will forever go around in circles until the second coming of Christ and yes, He will be very disappointed with us.  

On a different subject, Aleksa Bečić, president of the parliament of Montenegro, visited Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew at the Phanar on January 16. (link); (link). The Ecumenical Patriarch congratulated Bečić on his support of Metropolitan Joanikije of Montenegro and gave Bečić a panagia to be presented as a gift to Joanikije.  The Patriarch also told Bečić that the irenic visit (the traditional visits of a newly-elected primate to the primates of sister Orthodox churches in the order of the diptychs) of the new Serbian Patriarch Porfirije to the Fanar is expected with joy.  A number of days later, the Serbian news agency Tanjug contacted the Serbian Patriarchate and was informed that Patriarch Porfirije is not now preparing a visit to the Phanar.  (link)

More than a week earlier, Patriarch Porfirije of Serbia gave a long interview to the magazine of the Foreign Ministry of the Russian Federation.  (link)  With respect to Ukraine, he stated:

Our attitude towards the church problem in Ukraine is well known to everyone, and I believe it is well known to our readers who are interested in these topics.  I will just say that, despite the astonishing ease with which the Patriarchate of Constantinople neglected the holy canons, ecclesiology, the centuries-old structure of the Orthodox Church, Holy Tradition, we, essentially like, I am sure, the sister Russian Church, do not give up love for the Mother Church.  We pray that the day will come, and as soon as possible, when non-Orthodox anti-church influences and non-church projects will be rejected, which, as far as I can see, did not bring anything good to anyone in Ukraine, and when we will all in the spirit of the Church, return to brotherly love and pan-Orthodox solution of all problems.

Patriarch Porfirije was also asked about the 80th anniversary of the beginning of the genocide against the Serb people in the Independent State of Croatia.  His answer included the following:

An Orthodox man transformed by prayer has never and will never blame someone's descendants, someone's children, for what their parents did.  Hence, many who do not know the spirit and ethos of Orthodoxy wonder how an Orthodox man can forgive.  An Orthodox Christian will always build peace, friendship, not revenge.  Every Christian must use all his gifts for peace and understanding among people.  The Serbian Orthodox Church will continue to encourage and affirm historians and other scholars to work on establishing historical truth, in order to expose revisionism, which here in the Balkans, but also across Europe, has a simple goal: the abolition of Nazi and fascist criminals, and then the possibility of restarting that spiral of evil should not be ruled out.

Elsewhere in the interview, he states:  There are a number of essential things that need to be resolved in the dialogue with the Roman Catholics, and which leads us to one goal, commanded by God, for all to be one.

Peter Anderson, Seattle USA

©  https://ilsismografo.blogspot.com/2022/01/mondo-delegation-from-alexandria-visits.html







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