Albanian Church criticises Phanar's position on Ukraine

06 June 2023 11:54
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The Primate and bishops of the Church of Albania. Photo: Facebook of the Albanian Church The Primate and bishops of the Church of Albania. Photo: Facebook of the Albanian Church

Filaret, being outside the Church, could not ordain priests and bishops, the Albanian Church believes.

The Secretariat of the Holy Synod of the Albanian Church criticized the Master’s paper by Archimandrite Gregorios Fragakis, Chief Secretary of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, “On the Healing of the Ecclesiastical Issue in Ukraine by the Mother Church of Constantinople (The Issue of Ordinations)”, in which the author draws parallels with the granting of autocephaly to the Church of Albania and justifies the legalization of Filaret and Epifaniy. The document, adopted by the Synod of the Albanian Church back in November 2022, was sent to the Editorial Office of the UOJ by the press service of the Albanian Church.

The text refers to the incorrectness of comparisons between Filaret and his disciple Epiphanius and the Albanian Church figures Bishop Visarion and his ordained bishop Agathangelos.

"Agathangelos did not receive ordination from a defrocked, excommunicated, and anathematized Bishop, as was the case with Epiphanius, nor did he become a Primate of an Autocephalous Church. In Albania, no group was ignored, as in the case of Metropolitan Onuphry together with the 90 or more bishops," the document said.

The Albanian Church also pointed out the difference between its Tomos and the OCU's Tomos.

In particular, the OCU’s Tomos says that the Dumenko structure "recognises the Holy Apostolic and Patriarchal Ecumenical See as its head", which is not the case in the Albanian Church. In the OCU's Tomos, the Phanar refers to the structure as a "daughter", while in the Albanian Church's Tomos it is a "sister".

"Most importantly however, peace and unity have been brought to Albania, in contrast to what has happened in Ukraine, with adverse consequences for all of Orthodoxy," the document said.

The Albanian Church pointed out the similarities between the Ukrainian schism and the Melitian schism, which was healed through:

  • repentance,
  • the ordination of schismatic bishops,
  • the attainment of peace through the decision of a Pan-Orthodox Council.

The text of the Synod document states that a bishop "outside the Church is deprived of all holy grace and his priestly acts are invalid and inadmissible".

The Phanar's thesis that an anathematised bishop retains in himself the possibility of priestly action has been compared in the Albanian Church to the theory accepted in the Roman Catholic Church.

The theory of the indelible priesthood, which has been adopted by the Roman Catholic world (even if it is temporarily accepted as a working hypothesis) does not constitute an argument for the transmission of the grace and the validity of apostolic succession. Even if it is supposed that there remained imprints from the ordination, when the ordainer is cut off from the Church, defrocked, anathematized, and excommunicated, he becomes inactive and does not transmit any grace, (like an electrical device does not transmit any energy when it is cut off from the electrical current).”

Simple administrative decisions do not make that which never existed suddenly exist, the Albanian Church states, and “This is exactly where the concern for the validity of the ordination of Epiphanius by Filaret is based.”

The Albanian Church recalled that it proposed the format of the Melitian schism healing to the Phanar back in March 2019, just after the emergence of the OCU, and continues to insist on "the convening of a Pan-Orthodox Council, which under the guidance of the Holy Spirit should settle the Church issue affecting Orthodoxy communities around the world".

"The fundamental conviction remains that the Divine Eucharist, Apostolic Succession, and Synodality are the unshakeable foundation of Orthodox unity and that which is desired remains peace and the unity of Orthodoxy throughout the world," the Synod of the Albanian Church said.

As earlier reported, the Church of Albania called on the Phanar to convene a Council to resolve the OCU issue.

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