The crucial meeting between Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos and the Patriarch of Moscow appears to have done little to calm the turbulent waters in the relationship between the two churches, due to the bitter battle over many years regarding whether the Orthodox Church of Ukraine will be granted an independent status.
The Orthodox Church of Ukraine, which is currently under the jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate, has for years petitioned the Ecumenical Patriarchate to grant it autocephaly, the status of an independent church.
The Moscow Patriarchate has in the past threatened a schism with the Ecumenical Patriarchate, which is the first-ranking church in Eastern Orthodoxy and the sole authority that can grant a church autocephaly.
Following today’s two-and-a-half hour meeting, the Ecumenical Patriarchate clearly alluded to Moscow’s threats, in a statement by Metropolitan bishop Emmanuel of France.
“The Ecumenical Patriarchate does not threaten and will not be threatened,” Emmanuel stressed in remarks about the meeting.
Emmanuel said that the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s decision to grant autocephaly to the Church of Ukraine was underlined by Vartholomeos.
“We do not wish to create schisms [the breaking off of communion between two churches]. The door is always open for dialogue. We cannot however, constantly postpone the issue,” Emmanuel said.
The Metropolitan bishop said that discussions on the issue will continue to be conducted with all the autocephalous churches of Eastern Orthodoxy.