UKRAINIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH OF THE USA
CONSISTORY OFFICE OF PUBLIC RELATIONS
Hierarchs of the UOC of the USA Participate in Synaxis of Hierarchs of The Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople
For five days (29 August - September 2, 2015), His Eminence Metropolitan Antony and His Grace Bishop Daniel of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA along with over 140 Orthodox hierarchs of the Ecumenical Patriarchate from all over the world gathered in Constantinople (Istanbul, Turkey) in order to participate in a Synaxis (Assembly) of the Hierarchs of the Ecumenical Patriarchate convened upon the invitation and under the Presidency of His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew.
The formal plenary sessions of the Synaxis began on August 29 at Holy Trinity Church in Taksim Square and will continue through September 2, 2015. In his opening remarks, greeting the hierarchs of the Church, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew stated:
“Most Reverend and Right Reverend brothers in Christ,
“Behold, how beautiful it is for brothers to dwell together.” (Psalm 132) This verse from the sacred Psalmist comes to mind as we behold your beloved countenances at our Synaxis since we have the great privilege as well as the supreme and immensely responsible honor to serve this most sacred, historic and martyric Throne as its hierarchs, succeeding as ordained bishops a long line of predecessors, among whom there is an entire multitude of saintly men who established the Church by means of their toil, sweat and sometimes even their blood. May the Lord God grant them rest and eternal life in the communion of His saints…
…The mission of the Ecumenical Patriarchate is not exhausted in its obligation to preserve alive what it has received from its forefathers in its sanctifying and pastoral presence within its canonical jurisdiction. Divine providence and history have placed on its shoulders the greater responsibility of maintaining the unity of the entire Orthodox Church in order to transmit its spirit and mind to people of every period. The Ecumenical Patriarchate has always been the bearer and producer of spiritual and cultural values, while its voice continues to be carefully heeded more broadly and outside the narrowly ecclesiastical and religious world.
Faithful to this obligation before all of humankind, the Ecumenical Patriarchate assumed initiatives of greater and wider importance for the contemporary world, such as the protection of the natural environment, which today runs the ultimate risk of survival as a result of irrational and egocentric behavior on the part of human beings. Thus, already in 1989, as the first among all religious institutions worldwide, by means of an encyclical issued by our venerable predecessor Ecumenical Patriarch Dimitrios, our Patriarchate highlighted the crisis of the ecological challenge and the need for the Church to contribute with its spiritual and theological resources to the formation of a conscience and conduct inspired by respect toward God’s creation, which was granted to us with the commandment “to till and preserve” it. (Gen. 2.15) To this end, through a Synodal Encyclical, we established September 1st of each year, being the opening of the indiction and the ecclesiastical calendar, as a day of prayer for the protection of creation. (Read Patriarchal Encyclical here)
…We are obliged to point out the fact that, beyond the dangers arising from the secularization of societies, the Church today finds itself confronting broader turmoil, which in some cases threatens its very existence. This is particularly true in regions, where Orthodox Churches have existed for centuries and where our thought and prayer is constantly turned. In the face of such danger, we only have remedy at our disposal: our preaching and effort for peace and reconciliation. Dialogue for reconciliation is not a luxury today; it is a vital necessity first of all for us and also for the Church. This is why the Ecumenical Patriarchate leads every effort for reconciliation with all its available resources. The times are critical; and our responsibility and obligation as the Church of the Lord, who suffered for the world, call us all to fulfill this mission…” - (Read the text of the Patriarchal Address here)
In his opening remarks, and also in various discussions and meetings with the hierarchs of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA and Canada, His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew voiced his prayerful concern over the ecclesiastical division in Ukraine and pointed to the responsibility of the Church to care for Her sacred flock.
Introductions were presented by senior Metropolitans on ecclesiastical, pastoral and theological initiatives and ministries, including the forthcoming Holy and Great Council, the regional Assemblies of Bishops, the World Council and European Council of Churches, the Theological Dialogues with the Roman Catholic Church, the Pre-Chalcedonian Churches, the World Lutheran Federation, the Anglican Communion, the World Communion on Reformed Churches and the Old Catholic Church.
Further presentations were delivered on contemporary vital issues, such as the Orthodox response to bioethical issues, the root and impact of climate change, as well as the phenomenon of immigration and the pastoral ministry of the Church toward the humanitarian refugee crisis.
On Monday afternoon (31 August, 2015), prior to the beginning of Great Vespers for the feast in commemoration of the New Indiction and Synaxis of the Sacred Icon of Panaghia Pammakaristos, which is treasured in the most venerable Patriarchal Church, His Eminence Metropolitan Antony and His Grace Bishop Daniel visited one of the Orthodox Christian cemeteries in Constantinople - on the grounds of Patriarchal and Stavropegic Monastery of the Life-Giving Spring in Baloukli, a place of final rest of numerous Patriarchs of the Ecumenical Throne, among whom the hierarchs of the UOC of the USA, escorted by Archimandrite Nathaniel Symeonides - director of the Office of Inter-Orthodox, Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, venerated the grave of Patriarch Athenagoros of blessed memory, who showed an incredible kindness to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Diaspora throughout his Patriarchal service in the Great Church of Christ.
On September 1, following the Divine Liturgy at the Patriarchal Church of St. George, His All Holiness, followed by all the hierarchs, in keeping with an impressive and centuries old tradition, signed the Act of the New Indiction marking the beginning of the Ecclesiastical New Year. In addition, this day is also set aside by the Ecumenical Patriarchate as one of prayers for the preservation and protection of the natural environment, which is observed by all sister Orthodox Churches in the world. (Read Patriarchal Encyclical here)
More than 120 hierarchs signed the Act of Indiction, in order of seniority, beginning with His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch BARTHOLOMEW and continuing to the most recently consecrated ruling bishop.
Both His Eminence Metropolitan Antony and His Grace Bishop Daniel are scheduled to return to the United States of America on September 3, 2015 in order for His Eminence Metropolitan Antony to prepare for the participation in Labor Day Family Fest at All Saints Ukrainian Orthodox Camp in Emlenton, PA and for His Grace Bishop Daniel to receive new students of St. Sophia Ukrainian Orthodox Theological Seminary from Ukraine.