Athens, June 6, 2016/Independent Balkan News Agency
By Spiros Sideris
The first attempt of congregation of the Orthodox Churches after the Schism of 1054, the Pan-Orthodox Synod in Crete, is fast evolving into a religious “war”.
Spearheaded by the Church of Moscow, and with the support of its satellites, the Church of Bulgaria and the Church of Georgia, there is the danger of thwarting the first major effort to put on a common table the serious issues Orthodoxy is facing.
For a long time now the Patriarchate of Moscow has been trying to place under his “protection” the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, with the aim of claiming its leadership and its transfer to Moscow, since as they say in Moscow, Russia is the most populous country of Orthodox Christians.
With the fall of socialism and the reopening of the Russian Church, which all the years of “Communist” governance of the country had the full support of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, began the attempt to change the status quo of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
The scope of the personality of the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, has irked the leadership of the Russian Church and saw its plans to take on primacy in the Eastern Orthodox Church falling on deaf ears.
Mr Bartholomew, loyal to the concept of the unity of the Church, made impressive for the conservative majority of church leaders moves, such as the opening of dialogue between Eastern and Western Church. Unable to understand the universality of the Orthodox Faith and faithful to the introversion of the chosen people and the Orthodox doctrine, ecclesiastical agents of the former Soviet churches place obstacles.
On various pretexts and often with the assistance of their political leaders, they are trying to depreciate the ecumenical patriarch and his actions. From purely spiritual, there is an attempt to transform the leadership of the Church into a political one, serving aspirations alien to the spirit of Christianity, for the sole purpose of obtaining political power within the Church.
It is hard to see as accidental the visit of Vladimir Putin to the Holy Mountain a few days before the Pan-Orthodox Synod. The visit was considered by some of the Patriarchate as blatant intervention of the political leadership of Russia in ecclesiastical affairs and support of the Moscow Church effort to lead the Ecumenical Patriarchate, despite the fact that the Russian President kept low a low profile during his visit to the Holy Mount.
Another point which is of great value in understanding the visit of Putin to Mount Athos is that a large portion of the Haghioritic Community (Monks who live in mount Athos) is highly conservative and strongly disagrees with the efforts of the Ecumenical Patriarch to approach the Eastern and Western Church. What’s more, many in Mount Athos see in the face of Russia and more specifically of Vladimir Putin, the economic and political development of Mount Athos under his leadership.
The Ecumenical Patriarchate’s major attempt for dialogue is threatened by the political ambitions of both the Russian leadership and the leadership of the Moscow Patriarchate, with unpredictable consequences for the unity of the Eastern Orthodox Church.