New Pentarchy – New Catholicity?
In early September a Synaxis of the Heads of the Four Ancient Patriarchates and the Patriarchate of Cyprus was held in Istanbul at the residence of the Patriarch of Constantinople. This event triggered discussions among experts about an attempt to bring back to life the institute of the Pentarchy in the East. The website “Bogoslov.Ru”, continuing the debate on this issue, offers an article by Doctor of Theology Andrew A. Ukhtomsky, Professor of Kiev School of Theology.

Issues of today’s inter-Orthodox interaction on the agenda of the forthcoming All-Orthodox Council can be numbered on the fingers of one hand: the canonical status of the Orthodox diaspora (the question of its jurisdiction), the procedure of granting autonomy and autocephaly, and the place of local churches in the diptychs. These interrelated issues became increasingly urgent in course of the 20th century: the massive population exchange between states in the wake of World War II brought about the phenomenon of the Orthodox diaspora, an event unparalleled in the past and thus one without a clear canonical solution. The formation of new states after WWII and later on brought about the problem of juristictions of parishes, eparchies (particularly after the fall of the USSR) which found themselves abroad and beyond their traditional canonical territories. Besides which, the list of the local Orthodox Churches, its rank of honour (diptych), is also not similar across different local Churches and need unifying, all the more so since it is not established according to a single pattern (criteria of diptych: the historical significance of cities where the Head of a local Church is based; how ancient a Church is and when its autocephaly was granted). This difference in rank is there besides the equal status and independence of all the fifteen Orthodox Churches led by the “primus inter pares”, the Ecumenical Patriarch, whose decisions are of significance for all the Orthodox Churches.

The way these challenges can be answered seems to be at odds with the tradition and with the canonical decisions which today have to be changed. Every Church is coming up with its own way of tackling the issues of the canonical status of the Orthodox diaspora, procedures of granting autocephaly and autonomy and the position of Churches in the diptychs and their unification. Sometimes to do so it is necessary to change the established canonical regulations, tested by time and endorsed at Councils. A decision concerning a particular issue has to be taken unanimously. The lack of unanimity among the local Churches which can be seen today suggests that the way chosen to tackle the issue is wrong, and that it is being tackled in an one-sided way.

A striking example is the desire of the Church of Cyprus – which was expressed at the inter-orthodox pre-Council preliminary consultation while discussing the question of diptychs – to take position five beside the four ancient patriarchates and to change the status of its Head from archbishop to patriarch.  It is only the four first patriarchates (the ones of Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem) which are not affected by this moving about, while all the other Local Orthodox Churches are affected, and their representatives did not endorse this “Cypriot desire”. Besides, the desire of the Georgian Orthodox Church to take position six in the diptych after the Russian Orthodox Church, which was expressed by its head, Patriarch-Catholicos Ilia II, led to yet another collision. The lack of a decision which would satisfy every participant in the Consultation caused the decision-making process to be put off, since according to the Regulations of All-Orthodox Consultations decisions have to be taken unanimously.

The reasons for the “Cypriot desire” were made clearer at the Synaxis of the Heads of Ancient Patriarchates and the Church of Cyprus which was held on 1-3 September at the residence of the Patriarch of Constantinople in Phanar (Istanbul, Turkey). The outcomes of the Synaxis are known through the “Pastoral of the Synaxis of the most Blessed Heads of Ancient Patriarchates and the Church of Cyprus” and the “Communique of the Synaxis of the Their Beatitudes Heads of Ancient Patriarchates and the Church of Cyprus”. In the “Pastoral...”, which is written in a patronizing tone, the reason for holding the Synaxis and its atmosphere are described: “Addressing the political and religious Heads of the Middle East and worldwide we urge them to work out the framework of ways of making sure that believers of different religious traditions live peacefully; we declare our solidarity with those being discriminated, pressurized and persecuted”. Seeing that the Ecumenical Patriarch declared 1 December ”Day of the Environment and Creation”[1], the following decision of the Synaxis becomes clear: “to take the Ecumenical Patriarch’s offer to prepare and hold a Synaxis of religious heads of the region in the near future so that what might be called an ecological counterpart of the ”Mediterranean Charter” could be endorsed and publicated. What is the Mediterranean Charter? The translator's note tells us that “it is a document worked out by a group of international experts which is concerned with establishing the basic elements of contemporary international interaction in this region of the world”. Let us keep in mind that Cyprus is an offshore zone playing a significant role in the Mediterranean region and international trade. This cannot fail to affect both the status of the Church of Cyprus and the inter- Church space . The head of the Church of Cyprus himself – Archbishop Chrysostomos II – is also involved in the economic life of his country. In this case it is crystal clear that the political unity of the region can be compensated for with the religious unity which exists in reality.

Furthermore, the fact that Greek Churches need to be together not only politically and religiously, but also in terms of order in the diptych is still further clarified in the Communiqué of the Synaxis which states the programme of how the outlined challenges in the social sphere are to be faced. The heads of the Ancient Churches, together with the heads of the Church of Cyprus, are charged with these kind of tasks. These include supporting AIDS patients by building hospices, and supporting younger men and women in getting college education. A separate entry (with reference to the “February conflict” ) addressed the wish to revisit the decision-making procedure at Councils to accelerate the convention of the All-Orthodox Council. According to the advisory note submitted during the Synaxis, the revision has to be carried out by the Council of Their Beatitudes Patriarchs and Heads of Orthodox Autocephalous Churches, initiated by the Ecumenical Patriarch. The last entry of the communiqué calls on “every Orthodox Church to revere and strictly observe the geographical borders of every jurisdiction set down by the Holy Canons and their establishing regulations”. This entry refers to the issue of the intrusion of the Romanian Orthodox Church into the canonical territory of the Orthodox Church of Jerusalem as well as the establishing in 2007 of the Bessarabian metropoly on the canonical territory of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

Therefore, in light of the February and September Synaxes, a certain logical pattern for the Middle East can be seen to change the status of the Church of Cyprus, since it is included politically, culturally and religiously in the life of the Ancient Patriarchates – of Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem.

How much is this change necessary and what are its consequences?

Concerning the consequences we can say at once that they will be favourable for the Ancient Patriarchates and the Church of Cyprus in all aspects, including the accomplishment of “Greek concord” at the All-Orthodox Council, as it was with the solving of the issue of the canonical status of the Orthodox diaspora, with local churches splitting into two groups: the pro-Greek and others.

The other local Orthodox Churches will feel their dependence on the Pentarchy of Ancient Patriarchates (and there will be all the inevitable consequences of this fact), which profoundly compromises the equality of local Churches.

Let us analyse the “Cypriot desire” along with the “Pastoral...” and the communique of the Synaxis in the light of the history of the Church, the canons and the current geopolitical situation in the Mediterranean region.

Validity of the “Cyprus desire”. We shall refer to the message in Service Orthodoxe de presse (SOP) 359 juin-juillet 2011 in our exposition of the arguments put forward by the Church of Cyprus:

1) "The Russians adopted Orthodoxy in the 10th century, while we did it during the 1stcentury. Our  Church goes back one thousand years earlier than the Russian Orthodox Church. We ask to be treated with respect. We believe that we must take position five”[2]. This claim goes against the position order in the diptychs of the Ancient Patriarchates while the status of the Church of Cyprus goes up two more levels as compared to the desired one. If you put the time of the Christianization of the territory which was to become a local Church as the basis of diptych order, the resulting list is this: The Church of Jerusalem[3], Cyprus[4], Antioch[5], Alexandria[6], Constantinople.

Let us make a small digression in order to review the origin of the Church of Constantinople, since it is its Head who is primus inter pares among the heads of the other local Churches and he plays a significant and often key role in the international ecclesiastical space by making frequent references to the precedent of his establishment.

Constantinople was as a matter of fact an independent city in the Roman Empire. The city was built at the location of an ancient Greek fishermen’s colony, Byzantium, and came to be the Christian capital New Rome. “The Emperor’s moving to this city set still firmer in legal terms the already strong position of the new capital. The exceptional status of Constantinople also contributed to the ecclesiastical structure. There is no extant valid data as to the origin of Christianity in Constantinople. The fact that it was to this city that the heretic Theodore the Tanner came from to Rome in the early 2nd century AD suggests that there was a Christian community in Constantinople”[7]. The claim that the apostle Andrew the First-Called as the founder of the community and Sta khios its first Primate is a later legend[8].

“Later on [after Constantinople had obtained the status of Nea Roma – author ’s note ] legends saying that the Church of Constantinople was founded by apostle Andrew the First-Called and that its first bishop was apostle of the seventy Stachyus started spreading”[9]. There is another opinion about the establishing of the Church by the apostle Andrew: “The apostle Andrew was credited with a great contribution to establishing the Church of Constantinople ... During 330-451 the status of Constantinople was being worked out in view of its special position as the capital of the Byzantine Empire. Firstly a political headship adaptation pattern and later the principle of apostolic see were applied”[10]. As one can see, the idea of the apostolic evangelisation of Constantinople follows from its political status. In the 20th century too some scholars stuck to the opinion that “the Patriarch of Constantinople has an apostolic origin...since he is the Head of New Rome. This apostolic descent was granted by way of the visit to Constantinople of the apostle Andrew, the brother of the apostle Peter, who is chief of the apostles”[11]. A number or contemporary Greek writers (belonging to the Patriarchate of Constantinople) still believe that “according to tradition the Orthodox Church of Constantinople was founded by the apostle Andrew”.[12] “The apostolic nature of the Church of Byzantium, the city chosen by Constantine to become the capital of its new empire, is mentioned in the Syriac translation of an early Christian text, Doctrina apostolorum . This document mentions the apostles Luke, John and Andrew as the ones in charge of the Christianization of the region. The tradition of the apostolic nature of the See of Constantinople was particularly developed during the schism of Acacius (484–519). It also penetrated to the state legislation,  the 24th Novella of emperor Heraclius calling the See of Constantinople “apostolic””[13].

In this respect the Church of Constantinople is inferior to the Churches founded by apostles themselves: the Churches of Rome (apostle Peter), Alexandria (Mark), Jerusalem (James). “Fostering the notion of the origin of the Church of Constantinople from the apostle Andrew is apparently grounded in the desire to boost its authority (as having been established by an apostle) and ancient along withthe above-mentioned Churches. This notion does not have sufficient grounds to be considered seriously. The bishop of Constantinople used to be elected by bishops coming to Constantinople for various reasons. And it was the metropolitan of Heraclea with local bishops who endorsedand ordained the bishop (and later patriarch) of Constantinople well into the late Middle Ages”[14]. Gradually the emperor[15] came to take part in electing the bishop (thus, for example, the bishop of Nikomedia Eusebus was moved to Constantinople in 338 by  Emperor Constantius’ order).

The development and rise of the Church of Constantinople is a consequence and result of the political power of the city and was not brought about by its particular role or origin, which does not allow it to claim superiority over other Churches such as those of Rome, Alexandria or Jerusalem. The latter came into being by the gospel of Apostles while their development depended less on the state.

In Russia Christianity has been known since its first Kievan prince Ascold/Oscold (882)[16]. And if we could count the time of Russia’s evangelization since the times of apostle Andrew the First-Called then the line of argument held by the Cypriot party would lose its meaning and significance: both Churches (Russian and Cypriot) would stand equal chances. However, it is virtually unfeasible to move the Patriarchate of Constantinople from position five to position one: it is impossible for “primus inter pares” to be “the fifth rather than the first”. If we put the time of legalizing Christianity in the countries whose territories were to be connected with a Local Church as a basis for arranging Churches in the diptych, we will end up showing that for the Church it is not its own self-consciousness that matters but the extent to which it is established in these countries. The kind of attitude to the Church they have is thus taken as a point of reference for the arrangement of the diptychs. A state is less long-lived than a specific local Church, thus the status granted to it cannot be a criterion of arranging Churches in the diptych.

2) “We [the Church of Cyprus in the person of Archbishop Chrysostomos II her primate, February 2011 author’s note ] were prepared to cede to the Russian Church, for the Moscow Patriarchate has held the fifth position in diptychs for a number of centuries, whereas the other Patriarchates have appeared only in the 20th century. But I believe we were wrong in that. The Church of Cyprus must hold position five immediately after the most ancient Patriarchates following Jerusalem. Although we are a small Church we have no small heritage”[17].

The now reinforced claim by the Church of Cyprus appealing to its ancient origin makes one wonder volens nolens :  Why, since the preaching of the apostles Barnabas and Paul (or even since its autocephaly was established by the 8th Canon of the Third Ecumenical Council) has the Church of Cyprus been for centuries putting up with the status granted to her in the diptychs, and why is it only now that it calls for changes to be made in the order of the diptychs and the status of its Head?

Let us first consider the context in which autocephaly was granted to the Church of Cyprus. Not long before the 3rd Ecumenical Council bishop Theodore, the Head of the Church of Cyprus, had passed away. “The clergy of Antioch in a wicked way taking advantage of his death wanted to overmaster and subjugate the holy bishops of the island using force ... They conspired with the noble general Dionysios to issue orders to the head of the province and to the most holy clergy of Constantia”[18], so that, having secured the state support, urge the Council towards a decision favourable to them – introducing the Church of Cyprus into the jurisdiction of the Church of Antioch ”taking away from it its old privileges it always enjoyed and which enabled the council of bishops of Cyprus to appoint its own bishops”[19]. These are based on an ancient practice (5th[20] and 6th[21] Rules of the First Ecumenical Council) according to which bishops of Cyprus were appointed at Cyprus[22], as well as on the regulation against bishops making enchroachments outside eparchies they are in charge of (otherwise they are deposed and their rites are invalid – 35th[23] Apostolic rule and 3rd[24] Rule of the Council of Antioch).

Antioch was tempted by Cyprus’ status which, while being independent in religious terms, was subordinated politically to the prefect of Antioch[25]. Zonaras, while expounding on the 8th Rule of the Ecumenical Council which treated this occasion wrote: “Before Greater Antioch was separated from the Roman territory, the Emperor used to send a governor there, and the latter sent a general to the island of Cyprus as it was subordinate to Antioch”[26].

From the “Report” of three Roman bishops (Riginus of Constantia, Zenon of Curia and Evagrius of Sola) at the Council of Ephesus we learn about the persecution and pressures on the independence of the Cyprians. It shouldn't be taken for granted that these encroachments by the Antioch party had not previously occurred: “Even earlier our holy father and former bishop Troilus [of Constantia – author’s note ] had suffered much from the clergy of Antioch, and the most pious bishop Theodore suffered outrageous violence, impossible, reckless and lawless, even a beating which even dishonoured people would not deserve. And when he died (for a different reason, however) and reached a blissful decease, the clergy of Antioch , taking advantage of his death in a wicked way...[27]. As one can see the encroachments which had occurred before suggested that the bishops of Cyprus were independent, for otherwise there would not have been these kind of “forceful intrusions” on the part of bishops of Antioch.  Now “the bishops of Antioch sought to establish their own right to control the elections of bishops across the diocese of the Orient. This was a manifestation of adapting the ecclesiastical administrative divisions to the civil ones. Yet the island of Cyprus was part of the diocese of Orient”[28] and its independence  in religious terms is another point in favour of the fact that the canonical borders of ecclesiastical structures are not linked to civil (state) territory divisions. Agreement in these divisions as well as lack of such agreement is neither the norm or a breach of it.

Eventually, as both parties lacked decisive arguments[29], “the Council of Ephesus made a prudent decision [8th Canon of the Council of Ephesus[30]author's note]”  following which the Cyprus region would keep the status it had enjoyed. In other words, autocephaly was to be retained until it was proven that the island had ever been subordinate to Antioch in terms of appointing bishops[31]. A similar incident occurred again a century later with monophysite Patriarch Peter Gnafeus championing the Antiochene party; he was making a case for his encroachments claiming that Cyprus had received Christianity from Antioch. However after the apostle Barnabas’s relics were discovered in Cyprus it was established that “the Church of Cyprus had apostolic origins, its right to autocephaly thus fully recovered”.[32]

A Council decree also forbids an unlawful attempt to establish one's power over a different territory: “lest the rules of the Fathers are neglected: let no arrogance of civil power come creeping in the guise of consecration”[33]. By the way, the claim by the Patriarchate of Constantinople to gain jurisdiction over the Orthodox diaspora is at odds with this regulation.

At the time of the Arab invasion the Cypriots along with their Primate were transferred to Hellespont by an Imperial decree of Justinian I. Hellespont temporarily left the jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Constantinople and became subordinated to the Primate of Cyprus. The issue of this jurisdiction change was put on the agenda of the Sixth Ecumenical Council and affirmed in its Rule 53[34] retaining the former right of Cyprus (Rule 8 of the Ecumenical Council) and enforcing the pattern formulated in Rule 37[35] of the Sixth  Ecumenical Council: “every right proper to a given see (i.e. the right to ordain clergymen and to take a position befitting the see among other bishops) is granted to a bishop of a city or region which has been subjugated by the unfaithful so that he cannot claim his see and be established therein, and all administrative regulations are recognized as legal and valid as though he were in possession of his see”[36]. Thus the domain of the bishop of Cyprus was retained as long as the unity of ruling a given territory. 

Thus the historical precedent endorsed the autocephaly of the Church of Cyprus and established it with a decree of a Council (which was later to be borne out by historical developments, e.g. the Peter Gnafeus case). “Despite all the vicissitudes of history, the Church of Cyprus has succeeded in retaining its autocephaly up to now”[37].

The precedent analyzed could have occurred in every Church where “arrogance of civil power...creeping in the guise of consecration”[38] ever turned up. The pattern of ecclesiastical autocephaly goes back to Ignatius of Antioch saying: “Where there will is the bishop, there are the people, just as where Jesus is, there is the catholic Church”[39]. In other words, every bishop has autocephaly, bringing the gospel to the “sheep of his flock” like the apostles who, while dividing the regions to preach the Gospel in, did not preach where there already was another apostle bringing the light of Christ's Gospel who knew the needs of his flock. A Council decree about the autocephaly of a given Church only states the fact of its being inviolable and protects it form encroachments by other bishops according to the Rules 5 and 6 of the First Ecumenical Council, the 35th Apostolic Rule and the 3rd Rule of the Council of Antioch affirming the established practice. It is not superiority of one Church over another based on when autocephaly was granted to it that lies at the core of autocephalous unity, but rather the apostolic unity with Christ, in which the one who is the first is to be servant .    

The degree of autocephaly can be measured neither by territorial borders nor by the experience of one's autocephaly – for these are what the Primate of the Church of Cyprus is coming up with while making a case for his claim. Autocephaly is about the possibility and ability of a Church to independently practice its ecclesiastical service, which is impossible without the prayerful support of other autocephalous Churches. It is through this prism of prayerful, timeless and borderless unity that the Church must solve its daily, urgent and temporal problems rather than the other way round by putting the latter first in ecclesiastical life, relationships with other Local Churches and the issue of its primacy to other Churches and its primacy in unity.

3) Along with the upward movement of the Church of Cyprus in the order of the diptychs, its Primate sounded his ambition to upgrade his status to Patriarch: “What is the difference between a Patriarch of an autocephalous Church and a bishop of an autocephalous Church? They both will be primates of an independent geographically defined Ch urch”[40].

This is a desire which follows from the original claim; it reflects the age and historical context of granting autocephaly to the Church of Cyprus: “Patriarchate” as an institution was introduced in the Byzantine empire at the reign of Justinian, it pertained to cities most significant in terms of culture, economics, politics and religion. These cities were important in these respects before. But in the 6th century they came to be the “pillars” at different ends of the empire, keeping the “state of Constantine” together while its unity and expansion were high on Justinian’s agenda. The symbolic significance of the five Patriarchates within the empire, reinforced by the analogy with the five senses, stood in the way of increasing the number of Patriarchates. However, it by no means derogated the autocephy of the Church of Cyprus. Its head, though an Archbishop, was in any case primate of a Local Church.

4) Archbishop Chrysostomos II laments the prevailingly national factor in establishing the Local Churches over the feeling of belonging to universal Orthodoxy: “We made a tragic mistake. We became national Churches. Our Churches are Greek in the first place and Orthodox in the second place; Arab in the first place and Orthodox in the second place; Russian in the first place and Orthodox in the second place. This is impossible! We must put being Orthodox first, we must be united in our Orthodoxy instead of dividing ethnically and nationally ”[41].  Archbishop Chrysostomos II also claimed that he “had the courage” to say to the Patriarch of Moscow with all responsibility that “we should not behave as if we were national churches”[42].

Unfortunately, as is suggested by the modern experience of inter-Church dialogue, it is first of all the Churches which position themselves as Greek that the remark of Archbishop Chrysostomos II about the prevailing national consciousness over faith is relevant to, at least in that what is essential to every Church of this kind is also essential for every Greek Church. This kind of union is not to be found among the Slavic Churches, which means that they do not put national concerns first in inter-church relationships.

The Synaxis of Ancient Patriarchs in Phanar 1-3 September 2011 chaired by the Patriarch of Constantinople makes the point clear. The objective and atmosphere of the Synaxis is put down in the “Pastoral of the Synaxis of Ancient Patriarchates”[43]: “We who are charged with ruling and pastorally leading the most ancient historical Churches, founded by the Apostles and granted autocephaly by the Councils of the single and undivided Church, have gathered here in order to bring back to life ancient practice, as well as to exchange opinions and show each other love and support in connection with the recent developments in the territories of the historical regions where the Providence of God has found it desirable to locate our Churches”[44]. This message suggests that the communication between the hierarchs gathered in the Phanar and their Churches – the Churches of the Mediterranean region – is going on at all levels. Advantages of this kind of communication over communication with other local Churches are obvious and manifest: the apostolic, ancient origin of the autocephalous Churches of the universal undivided Church which stand out (otherwise they would not be mentioned in this particular way) among the other autocephalous Churches which were established after the schism of the Eastern and Western Churches (1054).  Another emphasis lies on the traditional character of the Synaxis (“in order to bring back to life ancient practice”). It is not for the first time that this kind of Synaxis – a Synaxis deficient of the plenitude of the Church (with the other Local Orthodox Churches absent) – has occurred, and not only religious issues of the Mediterranean region are on the agenda, but also political ones.

Here are a few examples showing the strong bond between the four Ancient Patriarchates and the Church of Cyprus:

1) The long-running coexistence of the Churches during the Ottoman rule; when it was over a number of territories (e.g. Northern Greece, Dodekanesia) were under the jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Constantinople and later the Greek Orthodox Church.

2) Meletios Metaxakis successively was the head of three autocephalous Churches: Archbishop of Cyprus (1910–1918), Metropolitan of Athens (1918-1920), Patriarch of Constantinople (1910–1918)[45].

3) The Archbishop of Athens and all Greece Damascene (Papandreou) (1941-1949) as a metropolitan of Corinth (1922-1938) “was sent by the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople in the USA to establish the Orthodox Greek community, which he described in a brilliant report”[46].

4) The Apostolic Diaconia founded in 1936 in Petraki monastery in Athens. It performs missionary work in Greece, Middle East and Africa. Charitable activity of the Greek Orthodox Church also goes on in the Balkans.

5) The Peninsla of Athos is administratively governed by Greece; power is exercised by a governor having administrative functions (Chapter 105 of the Constitution of Greece from 1975). It is within the church jurisdiction of the Patriarch of Constantinople.

6) Archbishops of Cyprus Leontius (1933-1946) and Macarius II (1947-1950) were elected with representatives of the Patriarch of Constantinople playing an active part.

7) The deported Cypriot Archbishop Macarius III (1950-1977) and metropolitan Cyprian of Cyrenea found shelter in Athens during the revolution.

8) In 1973 a revolt on the island was successfully subdued with the participation of representatives of Patriarchs of Alexandria, Athens and Jerusalem. It was a revolt against the Primate Archbishop Macarius III who supposedly is not permitted to combine political commitments with his priestly ministry as th e Primate of the Church of Cyprus[47].

9) With the consent of the Patriarchate of Alexandria the Church of Cyprus does missionary work in Eastern Africa. Thus, in Nairobi in 1982, at the expense of the Church of Cyprus, a seminary was built with a church and an Orthodox training college on the premises.

10) Since 1974 the Church of Cyprus has been a founding member of the Council of Churches of the Middle East.

11) During the Arab conquest (702-742) and the period of Latin influence (1100s – 1165) the Primates of the Patriarchate of Antioch stayed in Constantinople in exile.

12) “Since the 16th century Patriarchs of Jerusalem have had to recourse to the support of the Patriarch of Constantinople and to stay in his residence. Patriarchs of Jerusalem came to be elected only from among Greeks. Until 1534 the Patriarchs were of Arab origin. After Patriarch Dorotheus of Jerusalem passed away (1534), a Greek, Germanus, was ordained, and since then all the Archbishops’ sees have also been occupied by Greeks. Patriarchs tended to prefer to live in Constantinople rather than in Jerusalem. During this period the Church of Jerusalem, in spite of having autocephaly, was experiencing a strong Greek influence although ordinary church members and the lower ranks of the clergy spoke Arabic exclusively”[48].

13) In 1991, on the initiative of the Patriarch Demetrius, Primate of the Church of Constantinople, acting on behalf of the Church, the Albanian Church was restored and her current Head, Archbishop Anastasios (Yannoulatos), was elected.

These are just a few milestones of the interaction of the Churches whose supremacy lies in the fact that “it was in these parts that the first Christian centres beamed – the Churches of Alexandria, Antioch, Jerusalem and Cyprus and the basic structure of the universal and undivided Church were laid down”[49], according to the “Pastoral...”. “In these parts the Christian Church is deeply-rooted, particularly the Holy Orthodox Church. These regions are sanctified by the blood of martyrs for the orthodox faith and by the tears of holy venerable Fathers who beamed here. Nobody has the right to ignore it, and secular powers must treat this fact with respect”[50]. In the context of the “Cypriot desire” one can discern here a desire for monopoly and supreme position for the Middle East Churches over the other local Churches, while in the context of the Islamic challenge the emphasis is on the religious, Christian significance of the region. “In many cases Christians are seen as ‘second-class citizens’. In others their cultic places are defiled or destroyed, while many of them are important cultural sites. At the same time we do not give up calling for protection we have every right to in the countries where we live.  It is our profound conviction that this is the only solution of the problems for the long-suffering Middle East region, as well as for the world as a whole”[51]. Therefore, saving the religious and national identity of the Orthodox Churches of the Middle East is the business of the four Ancient Patriarchates as well as the Church of Cyprus, since their canonical jurisdiction is in the Middle East and the Mediterranean region. Furthermore, the “Pastoral...” treats the current dialogues of Christianity, Islam and Judaism (the religions of the region) on the matter at hand and presents an “address” to the “political and religious Heads of the Middle East and the whole world”[52] calling on them “to work out a framework of ways of making sure that believers of different religious traditions live peacefully”[53].  The address is concluded with a declaration of “solidarity with those being discriminated against, pressurized and persecuted”[54]. The unstable ecology of the environment is also considered as standing in the way of social and economic success[55].

Besides the aforementioned challenges the Communiqué[56] gives details of the activity of the Orthodox Churches of the Middle East together with the EU in making the region “healthier”: establishing hospices within the canonical borders of the Patriarchates of Jerusalem and Alexandria[57].

A call to maintain the canonical borders of Local Churches was the last point of the agenda of the communiqué and the Synaxis: “Besides all these, in the context of the recent developments in the geographical space of the Orthodox Church the Meeting stresses that every Church must honour and maintain the geographical borders of each jurisdiction which were laid down by the Holy Canons and their regulating decrees”[58]. “The recent developments” refer to the recent building of a church[59] in Jericho without obtaining consent by the Patriarchate of Jerusalem and the establishing of the Bessarabian Metropoly[60] in 2007 by the Romanian Orthodox Church. This resulted in the Patriarchate of Jerusalem “after looking into the problem both thoroughly and profoundly, unanimously and with sorrow” stopping Eucharistic communication with the Romanian Patriarchate[61]. A negative reaction followed from the Ukranian Orthodox Church[62] on whose territory (Kamyshovka settlement, Ismailsky region of Odessa district) on 16 July 2011 a church of apostles Peter and Paul was consecrated by Metropolitan Peter (Peduraru).

Thus what we witness is a symphony of Greek-speaking Mediterranean Ancient Patriarchates born out in the notion of “Pentarchy”. The concept used to refer to the five Patriarchates within the Byzantine empire and became extinct together with the fall of the empire. Besides we have seen from the above examples that the Orthodox Church of Cyprus is an active participant in ecclesiastical developments in the Middle East. In a nutshell, it can well claim that position in the diptych that relates it to the four Ancient Patriarchates. (As we saw above, a position change would bring about a conflict since another Church now occupies the fifth position.)

However it does not follow from this that the diptych order has to reflect their national affiliation. This goes against the nature of the Church.

Firstly, because ethnic division in faith has been alien to Christianity, which was expressed by the “apostle of pagans”: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal 3:28).

Secondly, as we saw above, it is Archbishop Chrysostomos II who denies superiority of nation over faith. Besides, this concept was condemned as the phyletist heresy by the See of Constantinople in 1872.

Thirdly, Greek-speaking Churches are not the only ones in the world; there are others too such as Slavic churches...the Japanese Orthodox Church exists,  saving people, though not recognised by the Ecumenical Patriarch. What is to be done with these churches? Take their due honour away from them and review the ranks of many Churches, all in an effort to move the Church of Cyprus up to fifth position?

In sum, a clear ecclesiastical and political reason for the “Cypriot desire” is to be seen:

The history of Ancient Orthodox Patriarchates and the Church of Cyprus suggests that there has been constant support and close connections among these Churches. This kind of Pentarchy of Churches solidified by the single Greek nationality of their members, their location in the Mediterranean region and shared cultural, economic and social problems does not amount to something matching the Byzantine concept of Pentarchy referring to five Patriarchates at different corners of the empire which supported, witnessed and symbolized the unifying politics of Justinian. The Justinianic Pentarchy, closely linked to the symbolism of the five senses, prevented more Patriarchates from emerging. The Pentarchy came to be the only pattern for ecclesiastical rule in Byzantium. This pattern is hardly feasible nowadays; however, the new Pentarchy seems to seek to follow it. The sense of superiority shared by the Ancient Patriarchates and the Church of Cyprus is a proof; the sense is expressed in their communalism, excluding the other Local Churches from their problem-solving domain as well as in the pattern of close-knit interaction these churches follow in solving inter-church problems.

Hard feelings between Orthodox Greek Cypriots and Muslim Turkish Cypriots, which have been there since the latter illegally invaded Cyprus in 1974 occupying 37% of its northern territory, force the Church of Cyprus to seek support from the other orthodox Churches. In particular, three weeks after the Synaxis in Phanar (2011 September 1-3) Archbishop Chrysostomos II of Cyprus addressed Patriarch-catholicos Ilia II of the Georgian Orthodox Church “for every possible kinds of support using his international authority”[63] in stopping the destruction of 500 orthodox churches on the Turkish territory which are being used as “mosques, night clubs, military camps and even stables”[64]. Probably the tactics of “ethnic cleansing” will be lifted if the Orthodox Church of Cyprus is introduced into the Pentarchy. Anyway the condemnation by the EU of Turkish actions on the island yielded no results, and Cyprus is in need of support. Whether it could find the solution in the Pentarchy is a difficult question.

Reviving the Pentarchy with the inclusion of the Church of Cyprus can provide additional leverage in bringing the Greek churches together for the upcoming All-Orthodox Council. Representatives of schismatic religious organizations in Ukraine believe that the Pentarchy will become one of the ways to “salve” schisms. Thus the Ukranian Autocephalous (sic!) Church hails the new makeup of the Pentarchy and “considers it to be yet another constructive canonical impulse in tackling ecclesiastical issues in Ukraine by the combined efforts of World Orthodoxy, the Ukrainian autocephalous movement and the Moscow Patriarchate”[65].

Here are the reactions of a few of the local Churches to the “Cypriot desire”.

The Bulgarian and Serbian Churches made no comments the steps by Cypriots.

The Polish Orthodox Church just stated the fact of the 2011 1-3 September Synaxis in the Phanar by uploading a Polish translation of the “Pastoral...”.

The Japanese Orthodox Church, geographically distant from Cyprus, is deep in the more urgent concerns of remedying the consequences of the Sendai earthquake of March 11 2011 and the associated emergency at “Fukushima 1” nuclear power station. Charitable fundraising has been organised by the Japanese Orthodox Church to support affected people. The Russian Orthodox Church, the Russian Orthodox Church outside of Russia and the Polish Orthodox Church have taken part in the fundraising.  Is this not the way to express communalism? This is a rhetorical question which is apparently answered by every Church in its own way. And the multiplicity of the answers is at odds with unanimity, which establishes the conciliarity of the Church on the way to the All-Orthodox Council.

[1] Православная Церковь в Восточной Европе XX век Под ред. К. Шайо. К.: Дух и литера. 2010. С. 48.

[2] Service Orthodoxe de presse (SOP) 359 juin-juillet 2011 p. 4.

[3] Jerusalem, being the location of the original kerygma of the Saviour and a Mother of Orthodox Churches, did not obtain as much administrative significance as Constantinople. The Fourth Ecumenical Council (451) ordered that the bishop of the Holy City have the honorific fifth position in the diptych of Churches. It was this Council that crowned its Primate with the title of patriarch. Patriarchs of Jerusalem debated the fifth position alloted to them, taking advantage of Jerusalem's authority as a cradle for Christianity and the place of the Saviour’ s earthly l ife. However on account of different political developments Jerusalem failed to exercise any great influence on the political life of Byzantium, not even being a centre of a praefectura (Блохин В. С. История Поместных Православных Церквей: Учебное пособие. Екатеринбург. 2004. С. 81) . “Since Jerusalem had less political weight than other cities which grew to be centres of Patriarchates (Rome, Constantinople, Alexandria and Antioch), the See of Jerusalem, being the most ancient and reverend, followed them in the lists (diptychs)”. (Поместные Православные Церкви. М.: Сретенский ставропигиальный мужской монастырь. 2004. С. 46.)

[4] Founded by the evangelical efforts of the Apostles Barnabas and Paul (Acts 13: 4-13). The priority of Christianity at Cyprus seems to follow from Luke’s message: “They therefore who were scattered abroad by the oppression that arose about Stephen travelled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, speaking the word to no one except to Jews only. (11:20) But there were some of them, men of Cyprus and Cyrene, who, when they had come to Antioch, spoke to the Hellenists also, preaching the Lord Jesus” (Acts 11:19-20).

[5] Christianity was apparently brought to Antioch by the people who had heard the gospel of Christ, as well as by the Apostles Barnabas and Paul. “The disciples were first called Christians in Antioch” (Acts 11:26), which was a scornful way to refer. “According to the most widely accepted point of view, the word ‘Christians’ originated as a scornful dub given from the outside to the adherents of the new teaching. Some hold that it was coined by pagans from Antioch, others – that it was authored by Romans. It is widely assumed that this dub was a mockery or even scornful and suggested the political unreliability of those referred to by it” ( Левинская И. А. Деяния апостолов. Главы 9–28: Историко-филологический комментарий. СПб.: СПбГУ, 2008. С. 153, ibid. the bibliography on this issue).

[6] The Apostle Mark preached in Alexandria and died a martyr there in 65 AD.

[7] Ухтомский А. А. Православная диаспора: проблема формирования канонического статуса // Церковь и время. М.: ОВЦС МП. № 3 (48) 2009. С. 148 .

[8] Петр (Л’юилье), архиеп. Правила первых четырех вселенских соборов. М., 2005. С. 203.

[9] Поместные Православные Церкви. М., 2004. С. 12.

[10] Ö kumeneLexikon, Frankfurt am Main, 1987, S. 920

[11] Kotting B., La nascita dei patriarchi, Roma e Constantinopoli,in Storia ecumenical della Chiesa, Vol. I, Brescia, 1980, p. 172. Cited in: Solazzo F. I patriarchi nel diritto canonico Anciente e occidentale // Incontro fra canoni d’oriente e d’occidente, Atti del Congresso Internationale, T. II. Bari, 1994, p. 246.

[12] Basdekis A., Die Orthodoxe Kirche, Frankfurt am Main, 2002, S. 142 .

[13] Кирилл (Говорун), игум. Служить или быть тем, кому служат: Вопросы о порядке и осуществлении власти в Христовой Церкви //

[14] Ухтомский А. А. Канонический статус православной диаспоры. М. Аспирантура МДА при ОВЦС МП. 2009. С. 6.

[15] Thus Emperor Constantine called the Council of Nicea (325). As a single ruler he sought to tackle the Arian controversies and the ones over the time of the celebration of Pascha, breaking new ground for universal imperial politics. The Emperor’s ecclesiastical status accounted for his wide-reaching aspirations, ranging from the right to call an Ecumenical Council to state-driven sanctioning of its decisions. In this paradigm the Council is seen as a concilium of the ruler (ÖkumeneLexikon, Frankfurt am Main, 1987, S. 724). Later on such interaction between Church and state would grow into a symphony of the two powers with the emperor referred to as a “bishop for outer concerns”.

[16] Шумило С. Князь Оскольд и христианизация Руси. К.: Дух и литера. 2010. Сс.. 21–32.

[17] Service Orthodoxe de presse (SOP) 359 juin-juillet 2011 P. 4

[18] Деяния Вселенских Соборов, изданные в русском переводе при Казанской Духовной Академии. Т. 2. Казань. Типография Казанского университета, 1892. С. 5.

[19] Правила Православной Церкви с толкованиями Никодима, епископа Далматино-Истрийского. Т. 1. М.: СТСЛ. 1996. С. 306.

[20] “Of those who the bishops – each in his eparchy – have excommunicated, be they clergy or laymen, we must judge according to the rule that those excommunicated by some are not to be taken on by others. Besides it has to be examined lest they were excommunicated out of faintheartedness, or strife, or a like displeasure in the bishop. Thus so as to ensure that there is proper examination of such cases it was found prudent to hold Councils twice a year in each region for all the bishops of the region, gathering together to scrutinize such perplexing ocasions. In this way the ones who have been proven to be positively wrong towards the bishop are to be found unworthy of communication until the convention of bishops vouchsafe to declare a milder decision about them. Let these councils be: one before Lent, and after every unpleasantness is stopped, a clean gift is offered to God; and another one about the time of autumn”. (Правила Православной Церкви с толкованиями Никодима, епископа Далматино-Истрийского. Т. 1. М.: СТСЛ. 1996. Сс. 191–192).

[21] “Let the ancient practices be saved which are practiced in Egypt, Lybia, Pentapolis, so that the Alexandrian bishop has the power over them all. For it is usual for the Roman bishop as well. Similarly both in Antioch and in other regions let the superiority of the order of churches be kept. In general, let this be known: in case one is appointed a bishop without the metropolitan consenting, about this the great Council judged that he must not be bishop. However, if the general convention is well-directed in its words and in accord with the ecclesiastical rule while there are two or three who dissent out of their own proud desire for confrontation, let the opinion of the major part of the electors prevail”. (Правила Православной Церкви с толкованиями Никодима, епископа Далматино-Истрийского. Т. 1. М.: СТСЛ. 1996. Сс. 194–195).

[22] Правила святых Вселенских соборов с толкованиями. М.: Издание Московского общества любителей духовного просвещения. 1877. С. 134.

[23]  Let the bishop dare not make ordinations outside the borders of his eparchy in cities and villages not subordinated tohim. In case he is found guilty of doing so, (that he did this without the consent of the ones running these cities and villages) let him be deposed along with the ones ordained by him .” (Правила Православной Церкви с толкованиями Никодима, епископа Далматино-Истрийского. Т. 1. М.: СТСЛ. 1996. С. 101). Mark that the rule “allows ordination to be made in the different eparchy only with the consent of the relevant eparchial bishop” (Правила Православной Церкви с толкованиями Никодима, епископа Далматино-Истрийского. Т. 1. М.: СТСЛ. 1996. С. 102) However this was hardly the case with the Cyprus situation where bishops of Antioch “secured state support” for their extension of power over Cyprus.

[24] “In case some presbyter or deacon or any one of the clergy leaving his precinct passes on to a different one and later accomplishing his migration attempts to stay in an alien precinct for a long time, particularly if his bishop is calling on him and urging him to come back to his parish and he does not obey. If he persists in this outrage, let him be deposed for good with no possibility of recovering his former order. If the deposited is taken on by another bishop, let him suffer penance from the general council as he is a breaker of ecclesiastical regulations” (Правила Православной Церкви с толкованиями Никодима, епископа Далматино-Истрийского. Т. 2. М.: СТСЛ. 1996. Сс. 58–59).

[25] Downey G., A History of Antioch in Syria from Seleucus to the Arab Conquest, Princeton 1961, pp. 457–458.

[26] Правила святых Вселенских соборов с толкованиями. М.: Издание Московского общества любителей духовного просвещения. 1877. С. 135.

[27] Деяния Вселенских Соборов, изданные в русском переводе при Казанской Духовной Академии. Т. 2. Казань. Типография Казанского университета, 1892. С. 5.

[28] Петр (Л’юилье), архиеп. Правила первых четырех вселенских соборов. М., 2005. С. 268

[29] Петр (Л’юилье), архиеп. Правила первых четырех вселенских соборов. М., 2005. Сс. 267–272.

[30] “A new (coming at odds with Church regulations and the rules of the holy Apostles) development has been declared by God-pleasing co-bishop Riginus and his colleagues, most pious bishops of the Cypriot region, Zenon and Evagrius. For which reason (since public diseases need the strongest treatment as they are most devastating and all the more so since there was not this kind of ancient practice for a bishop of Antioch to make appointments in Cyprus) both orally and in writing the most pious men coming to the holy council declared to us: let those in charge of holy churches in Cyprus have freedom without any encroachment or pressure, according to the rules of the holy Fathers and the ancient practice of most pious bishops making appointments by themselves. That the same regulation be observed in other regions and anywhere in eparchies: let none of God-pleasing bishops exercising their power venture into a different eparchy which before has not been in their hand or the hand of their forerunners. But if one has ventured and subdued the eparchy, let him give it back lest the rules of the Fathers are neglected: let no arrogance of civil power come creeping in the guise of consecration; let us not little by little and without knowing it forfeit that freedom which Our Lord Jesus Christ, the liberator of every person, bestowed upon us with His blood. Thus the holy Ecumenical Council finds it desirable that every eparchy keep uncompromised and unpressurized the rights pertinent to it according to established ancient practice. Every metropolitan for his reference may freely have a copy made of this decree. In case one puts forward a decree at odds with what has been ordered, then the holy Ecumenical Council finds it desirable that it be not valid». (Правила Православной Церкви с толкованиями Никодима, епископа Далматино-Истрийского. Т. 1. М.: СТСЛ. 1996. Сс. 305–306).

[31] Петр (Л’юилье), архиеп. Правила первых четырех вселенских соборов. М., 2005. С. 274.

[32] Петр (Л’юилье), архиеп. Правила первых четырех вселенских соборов. М., 2005. С. 275. Downey G., A History of Antioch in Syria from Seleucus to the Arab Conquest, Princeton 1961, p. 497.

[33] Правила Православной Церкви с толкованиями Никодима, епископа Далматино-Истрийского. Т. 1. М.: СТСЛ. 1996. С. 306.

[34] “Since our brother and concelebrant John, Primate of the island of Cyprus, along with his people, because of the barbarian invasions and in order to be free from pagan slavery and in a faithful manner comply with the sceptre of the most Christian Empire, has moved from the aforementioned island to the region of Hellespontus by the providence of the man-loving God and the care of our Christ-loving and pious Emperor, we decree that the advantages granted to the see of the aforementioned man by the God-bearing Fathers once gathered in Ephesus be retained, let the new Justinianopolis have the right of Constantinople, and let the most God-pleasing bishop established therein rule all the bishops of the region of Hellespontus and let him be appointed by his bishops in keeping with the ancient practice. For our God-bearing Fathers deemed to the practices of every church to be observed, and the bishop of Cyzicus is subordinate to the Primate of the aforementioned Justinianopolis following the lead of all the other bishops subordinate to the aforementioned most God-pleasing Primate John, by whom, once it is needed, let the bishop of Cyzicus himself be appointed”. (Правила Православной Церкви с толкованиями Никодима, епископа Далматино-Истрийского. Т. 1. М.: СТСЛ. 1996. Сс. 523–524).

[35] “Since at different times there were barbarian invasions and many a city has been enslaved by the lawless and for that reason it was rendered impossible for the head of such a city to take on the see and be established therein once he had been ordained, as well as to practice everything relevant to a bishop’s functions such as ordaining, we have decreed (giving full credit to the clergy and seeking that the pagan enslavery intervenes not with the ecclesiastical rights) that those ordained in this manner and not finding it possible to take hold of the alloted sees for the reason stated be not judged for this. In keeping with this consideration let them make ordinations of different orders of clergy according to the rules and take full advantage of presiding according to their precinct, and let every regulating action taken by them be deemed valid and legal. For the regulation domain must not be limited in its accuracy because of temporary hardships or impediments” (Правила Православной Церкви с толкованиями Никодима, епископа Далматино-Истрийского. Т. 1. М.: СТСЛ. 1996. С. 522).

[36] Правила Православной Церкви с толкованиями Никодима, епископа Далматино-Истрийского. Т. 1. М.: СТСЛ. 1996. Сс. 522–523.

[37] Петр (Л’юилье), архиеп. Правила первых четырех вселенских соборов. М., 2005. С. 276.

[38] Правила Православной Церкви с толкованиями Никодима, епископа Далматино-Истрийского. Т. 1. М.: СТСЛ. 1996. С. 306.

[39] Игнатий Антиохийский. Послание к Смирнянам, 8. Цит. по: Иларион (Алфеев), еп. Православие. Т. 1. М. Сретенский монастырь. М. 2008. С. 285.

[40] Service Orthodoxe de presse (SOP)  359 juin-juillet 2011 p. 4.

[41] Service Orthodoxe de presse (SOP) 359 juin-juillet 2011 p. 4.

[42] Service Orthodoxe de presse (SOP) 359 juin-juillet 2011 p. 4.



[45] Православная Церковь в Восточной Европе. XX век. Под ред. К. Шайо. К.: Дух и литера. 2010. С. 59. Σταυρίδης Β. Μελέτιος Δ'´ Βίος.

[46] Православная Церковь в Восточной Европе. XX век. Под ред. К. Шайо. К.: Дух и литера. 2010. С. 63.

[47] Православная Церковь в Восточной Европе. XX век. Под ред. К. Шайо. К.: Дух и литера. 2010. С. 86.

[48] Блохин В. С. История Поместных Православных Церквей: Учебное пособие, Екатеринбург 2004, С. 83.











[59] Secretary for the Holy Synod of the Romanian Orthodox Church and Vicar of the Patriarch Cyprian (Spiridon), bishop of Campineanu, explained the position of the Romanian Patriarchate concerning the erection of the church in Jericho in this way: “The Patriarch of Jerusalem cannot provide accommodation and relevant assistance for more than 3000 Romanian pilgrims coming to the Holy Land every year. This is why we carried on working on the construction of a pilgrimage place knowing that we have to take care of our church members not only in our county but also abroad...We do not question the jurisdiction of the Patriarch of Jerusalem over Israel, Palestine and Jordan, but our institution is meant to be for the Romanian pilgrims and not for local churchgoers, who come under the jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem”. (Румынский Патриархат: «Строительство храма в Иерихоне было обусловлено паломническими традиц иями румын» //

[60] “Establishing the so-called Bessarabian Metropoly and its structure is a part of the aggressive politics of Romania directed against the independent state of Moldova”, – said the President of Moldova Vladimir Voronin. Patriarch Alexius II of Moscow and All Russia in his turn said: “It was an uncanonical act of trespassing on the territory of another local Orthodox Church and of establishing an eparchy there” (Alexius II and Vladimir Voronin disagree with the politics of Romania and the Romanian Church towards Moldova //

[61] ΤΟ ΠΑΤΡΙΑΡΧΕΙΟΝ ΙΕΡΟΣΟΛΥΜΩΝ ΔΙΕΚΟΨΕ ΤΗΝ ΚΟΙΝΩΝΙΑΝ ΜΕΤΑ ΤΟΥ ΠΑΤΡΙΑΡΧΕΙΟΥ ΡΟΥΜΑΝΙΑΣ. // The Church of Jerusalem condemns the actions of the Romanian Church, referring to the apostolic words “do not build upon another man's foundation” (Rom 15:20) as well as to the 31st Apostolic Rule, the 5th Rule of the Local Council of Antioch and the 10th Rule of the Council of Carthage. 

[62] Журналы заседания Священного Синода Украинской Православной Церкви от 26 августа 2011г. Журнал № 63 //

[63] Архиепископ Кипра обратио се за помоћ Каталикосу Грузиjе //

[64] Архиепископ Кипра обратио се за помоћ Каталикосу Грузиjе //

[65]  Офіційна заява Патріархії Української Автокефальної Православної Церкви //

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