It is appalling how some people who pretend to be Orthodox slander the Ecumenical Patriarch. On many forums, blogs and websites, His All-Holiness Bartholomew I of Constantinople is accused of being a CIA operative and a NATO shill, working for US imperialism. He is said to be a heretic and a Freemason, practicing ‘Eastern Papism’ — that is, trying to become the Pope of Orthodoxy. This slander happens always without any evidence, often based on extremely far-fetched ‘conclusions’ and interpretations (as malicious as possible) of some media reports.
Here are just two examples, and it is very easy two find lots of more of that filth. They can usually be found from Russia-oriented websites, the current Ukraine crisis being often as the context, although this anti-Bartholomew propaganda began long before the autocephaly controversy. (I also think Petro Poroshenko is an evil dick — it just does not have any relevance concerning the long-continued schism.) These examples were written on the Patriarchate’s official Twitter account, as responses. Being public in the first place, I do not censor their names and pictures.
Of course, this kind of zealots and sectarianists can not possibly care about the purity of the Orthodox faith or the unity of the Church. If they did, they would concentrate on their spiritual contemplation, the holy mysteries, and studying the mystical theology of the Church — none of those are under threat in this temporal Ukraine controversy — without bothering themselves with the organisational matters of the Church. Such matters are important for technical reasons, but they are still secondary.
That is why the Orthodox Church have Her church officials: to take care of these temporal and earthly matters so that they could in their best way serve the faithful. Now two Patriarchs have disagreements of how they should be handled. Those for whom Orthodoxy is a matter of finding connection to God and cultivate one’s soul could not care less about that disagreement. But it reveals the sectarian twits for whom religion seemingly is nothing more than a reason to pick sides and fight.
That often seems to be what many people want to do with their lives. They use religion, nationality, ethnicity, language, or any difference possible to do so, most likely without caring very much about the issue itself. The Holy Orthodox Church of course is not immune to sectarianism and zealotry, as we live in the fallen world, under the veil of māyā. These people exploit the Church as merely a part of international or identity politics, in a way that can rightfully be described as ‘diabolic’.
These zealots are doing exactly what they say the Ecumenical Patriarch is doing: they are tearing up the Church — they are, not the Patriarch. They are dividing the Church, wanting to bring it from a mere organisational dispute towards a genuine schism. They declare anathema to the primus inter pares by the authority of their Self-Educated Expert of Everything status, granted by the All-Knowing Internet. They are trying to cast a curse upon the hierarchs of their own Church and break the communion.
Indeed, in their hybris they are even excommunicating the Patriarch, asserting themselves above those with the apostolic succession. It is these zealots alone that are dividing the Church, not the Patriarchs, whatever earthly disagreements they might have. The Church is one and remains one. Their All-Holinesses Bartholomew and Kirill will solve the Ukraine crisis somehow, and as a result, the Church is more unified than it has been since the schism began. The Orthodox support these attempts and pray for all the bishops involved, they do not wage war inside the Church.
One might disagree with the bishops, in earthly matters, in organisational matters, to some degree in theological matters too. But in any possible circumstance any Orthodox Christian does not slander and curse bishops and patriarchs. Their apostolic succession is the spine of the Church, they act as the guardians of the Mystical Body of Christ. They have been given a difficult task to organise the Church here on Earth, and they do not need their flocks to throw any stones at the other side of the same Temple.
St. Paul says (2 Timothy 2:22–26),
So shun youthful passions and aim at righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call upon the Lord from a pure heart. Have nothing to do with stupid, senseless controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kindly to every one, an apt teacher, forbearing, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant that they will repent and come to know the truth, and they may escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.
Blessed be the Church of Constantinople, New Rome, blessed be the Church of Moscow, the Third Rome, and blessed be the One Holy Orthodox Church, God’s Israel.
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