Other cracks in the Orthodox communion emerge | National Catholic Register

COMMENT: That the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople travels to Warsaw to stand alongside a Catholic Bishop to summon the Russian Orthodox Patriarch Cyril is quite remarkable.

The replicas of the “ecclesial earthquake” were not long in coming.

On Friday, Pope Francis consecrated Ukraine and Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. On Sunday, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople was in Warsaw.

What connects the two events? Neither the bishop of Rome nor the patriarch of the “New Rome” – Constantinople – takes into account possible objections from Moscow, which calls itself the “Third Rome”.

The timing and manner of the Holy Father’s consecration of Ukraine and Russia was possible because Russian Orthodox sensibilities are no longer respected. Patriarch Kirill of Moscow, by blessing Russia’s war of aggression against his Orthodox and Slavic compatriots in Ukraine, has lost all credibility as a church figure and ecumenical partner.

Bartholomew had already felt the sting of the Kirill cult of pseudo-tsarist, quasi-Soviet imperialism. In 2018, when Bartholomew, first among the Orthodox patriarchs, recognized an Orthodox Patriarch Filaret of kyiv Autonomous from Moscow, Kirill broke communion with Bartholomew and declared him in schism. Bartholomew held firm but was careful not to further inflame tensions in the fractured Orthodox communion.

Not anymore. Bartholomew traveled to the most Catholic country in Europe to show solidarity and bless the 2.3 million Ukrainian refugees in Poland, mostly Orthodox. He came at the invitation of Catholics, to congratulate them for having brought aid to Orthodox Christians attacked by Russia, another Orthodox country.

In a truly remarkable speech at the Presidential Palace in Warsaw, Bartholomew explained the extraordinary circumstances of his visit.

“My exclusive focus these days is to stand in solidarity and pray with the millions of refugees who have been forcibly displaced by the ongoing unwarranted and unjustifiable aggression as well as the horrific and costly violence wrought by Russia on their sovereign homeland, Ukraine,” the Patriarch told Polish President Andrzej Duda.

“I am here to meet some of the many refugees and to encourage those who manifest the ultimate Christian virtue of love for their neighbor and charity for every stranger, in whom we are called to bear witness and to welcome Christ himself. “.

He said as a Christian. Then he spoke as the leader of world Orthodoxy:

What I would like to emphasize first of all, Mr President, is my personal gratitude – but above all the appreciation of the Orthodox faithful, and indeed the admiration of every human being worthy of the name – for the generous hospitality and sympathy of your historic and beautiful nation to those who were forced to flee Ukraine.

Let me assure you that the whole world has seen Poland – and other surrounding nations of this blessed continent – literally open the borders of its land and the depths of its heart to welcome and comfort women and children, elderly and unaccompanied minors, and even pets. You did not confine your refugee neighbors to tents and camps; you have embraced them in your residences and drawing rooms.

That an Ecumenical Patriarch, speaking in the name of “every decent human being”, would side with Poland – the Latin Slavs – and Ukraine – the Byzantine Slavs – against Russia would have been unthinkable a few years ago. month.

As if that weren’t enough, Bartholomew followed his Monday visit to Duda with a visit Tuesday to the residence of Cardinal Kazimierz Nycz in Warsaw, where he met and prayed with Archbishop Stanisław Gądecki, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference. from Poland.

Archbishop Gądecki, after characterizing the Russian attacks as having “the characteristics of genocide”, then less subtly accused Russia, in the presence of Barthélemy, of having committed spiritual fratricide.

“In this war, two Christian Slavic nations are fighting each other, and yet they have the same baptismal font: the baptism of Saint Vladimir the Great, Prince of kyiv, who in 988 received it from Constantinople, the capital of Christian East,” Bishop Gądecki said. The Polish prelate further noted that he had personally written to Kirill, asking if it was “permissible to destroy the cradle of Christianity on Slavic soil, the place where Rus was baptized.”

That Bartholomew often comes to Rome to pray with the Holy Father for unity and to advance common projects is no longer remarkable. That he travels to Warsaw to stand with a Catholic bishop to call the Russian Patriarch of Moscow is quite remarkable.

The tectonic plates have moved; the aftershocks are serious. And there are more to come.

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