This book considers the crucially important subject of the relationship between the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Church of Greece.
The first two chapters, ‘Personal Recollections’ and ‘Roman-Byzantine Texts’ emphasise the special respect and honour that ought to be bestowed on the Ecumenical Patriarchate as a sacred institution decreed by Ecumenical Synods and made glorious by saintly figures. The Ecumenical Patriarchate is distinguished by a history of national struggle and sacrifice. It is inspired by, and inspires, the ecumenical spirit of Hellenism and Orthodoxy, and no one can dispute the vast experience at its disposal. The Ecumenical Patriarchate plays a pastoral role in the service of the Church. A special chapter called ‘Commemoration of the Name of the Archbishop of Athens’ presents a summary in diagrammatic form to enable the reader to understand how the question of commemorating the Archbishop’s name arose. The Church of Greece is administered neither by a Metropolitan nor a Patriarch but by a Synod. The Metropolitans should commemorate the Holy Synod, and the Archbishop of Athens is regarded as the Leader of the Synod. ‘The Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Church of Greece’ analyses the administrative system of the Church. There is a detailed exposition of the term ‘autocephalous (self-governing) Church’, which preserves the unity of all local Churches under the supervision of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. The history of the unilateral declaration of autocephalous status by the Church of Greece in 1833 is related in full, and the chapter shows that foreign politicians and other elements are always attempting to damage the unity between the Church of Greece and the Ecumenical Patriarchate. The subject of the ‘Pre-eminence of the Ecumenical Patriarchate’ in relation to the other autocephalous Churches is also examined. This is not just a matter of holding the first place of honour, but of pre-eminence with regard to service and the struggle to preserve the Church’s Orthodox teaching and experience. There is a discussion of how the Ecumenical Patriarchate relates to the Greek Orthodox Churches in Europe, America and other countries. In the chapter ‘Relations between the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Church of Greece in the period 1967-1974’, the reader can study the patriarchal documents sent to the Church of Greece during this period in connection with the plan for the new ‘Deed of Contract’, and see the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s opposition and the disruption of the relationship between the two Churches. The final section of the book describes ‘The Contribution of the Ecumenical Patriarchate to Contemporary Developments’. Emphasis is laid on the role of the Ecumenical Patriarchate for humanity today and its international mission. With its flock spread throughout the world, especially in America, it is aware of all the ideological trends which hold sway in the East and the West, and knows all about the problems which beset people today.
Μητροπολίτης Ναυπάκτου Ιερόθεος