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Territorial Jurisdiction According to Orthodox Canon Law.
The Phenomenon of Ethnophyletism in Recent Years

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              In the ancient Church, each city had its own bishop, who was the president of the eucharistic assembly and its shepherd, responsible for pastoral service in all its guises and the person who “rightly divided the word of truth”. Even small towns or places were the seats of bishops, each of whom exercised a certain episcopal jurisdiction independently of the bishop of the city. Because of the persecutions, the problematical conditions and the awkwardness of the situation for the Church, it was difficult to deftne the boundaries of each of the episcopal regions over which the bishops were to exercise thetr jurisdiction. As a result of this, confusion and conflict often arose within the administration of the Church, over the ordination of clerics or the dependence of presbyters on two bishops, given that there were often two bishops in one and the same place. When the persecution of the Christian Church by the Roman state ceased, the legislative authority of the Church was able to define the boundaries within which the bishop could exercise his episcopal authority. In this way, the canonical provincial administration was formed.

              In the fourth and fifth centuries, the metropolitans/bishops of the Roman Empire, of the capitals of the Dioceses, acquired even greater power, and important ecclesiastical matters were handled in these major cities. The metropolitans of the five most important cities of the Christian world were called Patriarchs, while the metropolitans of the smaller cities, over time, lost their complete independence, though they retained their former title, “metropolitan”, and also their sees. The most important matters of the geographical eccle-siastical region were now handled by the Patriarchal Synod, by which metropolitans were now elected and consecrated, and then installed by the Patriarch. The Patriarchal Synods, under the chairmanship of the Patriarch, were at first made up of the metropolitans, then later also of the bishops of the patriarchal geographical region. The provincial metropolitan/episcopal synods under the chairmanship of the metropolitan were retained, and dealt with local provincial matters. They remained, however, under canonical dependence upon the patriarchs and their synods, in which they also participated.

              The boundaries of the patriarchates are geographical and nothing more. They are not ethnophyletic, cultural, liturgical or anything else of the sort, and were defined by Ecumenical Synods through sacred canons and ecclesiastical regulations in accordance with Christian teaching against racial discrimination, with Orthodox ecclesiology and with canon law and pastoral requirements.

              Canon 6 of the 1st Ecumenical Synod says “Let the old customs prevail as well as the later canons”, and goes on to confirm the geographical boundaries of the jurisdiction of Rome, Alexandria and Antioch. “Let the ancient custom prevail which obtained in Egypt, Lybia and Pentapolis, to allow the bishop of Alexandria to have authority over all these parts, since this is also usually accorded to the bishop in Rome. Likewise with reference to Antioch and the other provinces, let seniority be preserved in the churches”. Thus “the bishop of Alexandria precedes those in Egypt, Lybia and the.province of Pentapolis, Africa; Antioch similarly heads Syria, Coele or Hollow Syria, Mesopotamia and both Cilicias...” i. e. the diocese of the East; “and the bishop of Rome is senior in the western provinces”[1].



              The bishop of Jerusalem, because of the sacred nature of the city “through the redemptive passion of Christ”[2], was declared patriarch by the 4th Ecumenical Synod, with his jurisdiction extended to include the three provinces of Palestine, known as the “Three Palestines”[3]. So Jerusalem was senior to “the provinces in Palestine, in Arabia and in Phoenicia.. .”[4].

              As Patriarchate, Jerusalem occupied the fifth place, after Antioch[5], while since the schism between East and West it has taken the fourth place in the Orthodox Church. In the case of Jerusalem, too, the criteria applied by the 4th Ecumenical Synod for canonical jurisdiction- “ground” — were geographical and no more.

              The Ecumenical Patriarch[6], the Archbishop of Constantinople-New Rome, occupies the first place, the primacy of    honour in the canonical structure of the Orthodox Church. This position, as well as his canonical jurisdiction — the “ground” — have been defined by the sacred canons of the Ecumenical Synods, in other words by irreversible ecumenical decisions[7], and their application is binding for all Orthodox.

              As regards the primacy of honour of Constantinople, this has been legislated for by the 2nd Ecumenical Synod (Canon 3), the 4th (Canon 28) and the Quinisext (Canon 36). Thus: “the Throne of Constantinople shall enjoy equal seniority with the throne of Older Rome, and in matters of the Church shall be magnified as the latter, coming second after it...”[8]. Since the schism Constantinople has held the primacy of honour and of διακονια in the Orthodox Church.

              By a decision (Canon 28) which is of universal status and validity, the 4th Ecumenical Synod confirmed a long tradition and action of the Church as regards the canonical jurisdiction and the territory of the Ecumenical Throne. The geographical extent of its own ground was extended to the then administrations of the Roman Empire in Pontus, Asia and Thrace, as well as to the “barbarian” lands, i. e. those which were outside the boundaries of the then Roman Empire: “... only the metropolitans of the Pontic, Asian and Thracian dioceses shall be ordained by the aforesaid Most Holy Throne of the Most Holy Church of Constantinople and likewise the bishops of the aforesaid dioceses which are situated in barbarian lands...”.

              The adjective “barbarian” defines the noun “nations”, which is omitted from the text of the canon, but which is to be inferred, as Zonaras interprets it[9]. Barbarian nations or countries are, as has been said, those provinces which lay beyond the Roman Empire at the time of the 4th Ecumenical Synod: “While it called bishoprics of the barbarians those of Alania, Russia and others”[10]. The other barbarian lands, apart from Alania and Russia, are, in general, “the Barbarians”, according to the interpretation of Aristenos of Canon 28: “... the (bishops ) of Pontus and Thrace and Asia, as well as the Barbarians, are consecrated by the Patriarch of Constantinople...”.

              According to the “Notitiae episcopatuum” (Συνταγμάτιον) bearing the name of Emperor Leo the Wise (886-912), but actually dating more or less to the llth century[11], the eparchies of South Italy, i. e. Calabria and Sicily, are also under' the Ecumenical Throne of Constantinople. Besides, according to the “Exposition” of Emperor Andronikos II Palaeologos (1282-1328), which was generally valid until the 19th century, these eparchies were subject to the Ecumenical Patriarchate. With the passage of time, however, this dependence in fact weakened away because of the propinquity of these provinces to Rome and because of the impossibility of Constantinople maintaining communications with them, situated as it was within the Ottoman Empire.

              In the Order “of the Thrones of the Orthodox Eastern Church”, i.e. the (Συνταγμάτιον)of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of the year 1855, there is no reference to these eparchies[12].

              Moreover, from the 8th century, all the provinces of Eastern Illyricum, i. e. the Balkan region from the borderş of Thrace to the Adriatic, were removed from the jurisdiction of Rome and placed under the canonical jurisdiction of Constantinople.

              The newer lands of North and South America, of Australia, the Far East and so on, and also those in general that are outside the boundaries of the local Churches as defined by the sacred canons and the decisions of the Ecumenical Synods, as well as by the Patriairchal and Synodical Tomes, are included in theory, and hence in practice, in the “other” barbarian lands, according to the general terminology of the 4th Ecumenical Synod and of the other synods. This has nothing to do with an ethnological or any other modern cultural definition, but is geographical, since they were not included, at the time of this synod, within the bounds of the then Roman Empire and were not named in the canonical sources, as were Alania or Russia[13].

              The Ecumenical Throne of Constantinople thus has canonical jurisdiction over the Orthodox in all the “barbarian” countries which constitute its geographical area and “ground”, while the exercise of its canonical rights over all the Orthodox in these countries should not in any way be considered as being“beyond the boundaries” (of its “ground”), i. e. “υπερόριος”[14].Through Patriarchal Synodical Tomes or Acts, specific metropoles, archbishoprics and bishoprics which were part of the geographical area of the canonical jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople have been ceded to the newer autocephalous local Churches, in Russia, in the Balkans and beyond. After autocephaly, these autocephalous Churches acquired canonical, administrative and pastoral jurisdiction over them. Any exercise of administration or pastoral tasks by these autocephalous Churches over Orthodox outside and beyond their own defined geographical boundaries, on the basis of national, racial, linguistic or “cultural” criteria, constitutes, according to canonical exactitude, an action “beyond the boundaries” (υπερόριον) and an intrusion (εισπήδησιν) into another province, thus violating the fundamental principles of canonical jurisdiction and the tradition of the Church.

              The history of the transmission of Christianity from Constantmople to Russia, Great and Little, (10th century), is well known, as is the entry of this eparchy into the canonical jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.

              According to the “Notitiae episcopatuum”, i. e. the constitutional record of metropoles, archbishoprics and bishoprics subject “to the Patriarch of Constantinople”, referred to commonly by the name of Emperor Leo the Wise (886-912), though in fact dating from the llth century, the Metropolis of Russia (Kiev) occupied the 61st position[15].

              Twelve bishops are subject to this Metropolis in Great Russia (Novgorod, Chernigov, Suzdal, Rostov, Vladimir, Chmelniskii, Byelgorod the Great, close to Kiev, Yurief, Polotsk, Riazan, Tver, and Sarai).

              Likewise, under the Metropolitan of Kiev there are seven bishops in Little Russia (Western Region) (Galicia, Volynia, Peremysl, Putsk, Turof, Cholm and Smolensk).

              The Metropolis of Kiev (Russia), under the Ecumenical Patriarchate, had geographical boundaries which cover Great and Little Russia, in accordance with the canonical order, so that, without distinction, the people living in this area could be served evangelically, administratively and pastorally.

              Historical developments and events brought changes as regards the seat of this metropolis and its geographical boundaries until the political and ecclesiastical centre was stabilized at Moscow. When Moscow became the dominant power in the region, its bishop was recognized as the Metropolitan of Russia. In the year 1459, because of the difficultieş in communication between Moscow and Constantinople following the capture of the latter by the Ottomans (1453), the Metropolitan of Russia was made independent of the Ecumenical Patriarch as regards his election, while the see was divided into two: the Metropolis of Moscow and that of Kiev.

              In the year 1588, the Patriarch of Constantinople, Jeremiah II, went to Moscow, where he agreed to elevate the Metropolis of Moscow to the rank of Patriarchate and, under pressure, ordained (sic) Job, the Metropolitan of Moscow, as Patriarch on 26 January, 1589.

              An Endemousa Synod was called in Constantinople by Jeremiah to ratify what had taken place in Moscow. This was called again, in 1593, at the wish of the Tzar, so that one of its participants could be Meletios Pegas, the Patriarch of Alexandria, who had reacted against these developments. The synod ratified the elevation of the Metropolis of Moscow to the status of Patriarchate, which was to occupy the fifth position in the Diptychs, i. e. after the Patriarchate of Jerusalem.

The Patriarch of Moscow was to be elected by the hierarchs of the Patriarchate of Moscow.

              According to the Patriarchal and Synodical Act of this Endemousa Synod: “the throne of the most venerable and Orthodox city of Moscow is and shall be called Patriarchate' ... and all Russia and the Far-NorthernTerritories shall be subject to the Patriarchal Throne of Moscow and all Russia... It has its place after His Beatitude of Jerusalem in the sacred diptychs and in ecclesiastical gatherings, and so we have firmly retained the canons previously formulated by the holy Fathers.. .it is the head of this region of Moscow and all Russia and the Far-Northern territories and shall be recognized as such in accordance with canon 34 of the holy and all-praised Apostles...”[16].

              Thus, according to the Patriarchal and Synodical Act founding the Patriarchate of Moscow, ratifying what had taken place in Moscow (1589) under Patriarch Jeremiah II, the Patriarch of Moscow, fifth in rank in the Diptychs after Jerusalem, has canonical jurisdiction over Moscow, as its bishop, and as the first in all Russia and the Far-Northern Territories of Moscow within the Russian realm. Ţhe Patriarchate of Moscow, as a local Church, and according to the official ecclesiastical Acts regarding its foundation, also has canonical jurisdiction, with geographical boundaries and geographical limits, and thus conforms to the canonical teaching and ecclesiology of the Orthodox Church. Its canonical jurisdiction- its “ground”- extends to “the whole of Russia”, i. e. as was mentioned earlier, within the boundaries of the Russian realm, not beyond it. It follows that its “missionary ground” also extends to the boundaries of its officially-defined expanse and lies within the boundaries of the Russian realm, not outside it.

              Missionary work conducted outside the geographical boundaries of the canonical jurisdiction of local Churches by their members or in their name is uncanonical and ecclesiologically unacceptable. It can be regarded as canonical and ecclesiologically acceptable only if preceded by an invitation from a local Church to specific missionaries from other local Churches, who would, without fail, come under the local canonical bishop during the course of their mission. They would commemorate only the name of the local bishop during services and would carry out their missionary and pastoral work solely in the name of the local bishop, so that this work would be canonical, pure and beyond reproach. Otherwise it is an intervention “beyond the borders” (“υπερόριος”) and an “intrusion” (“εισπήδησις”) into another province, which is specifically forbidden by the sacred canons and decisions of the Ecumenical Synods: “Let no bishop dare confer ordinations outside his own boundaries, in cities and territories not subject to him. If he be proved to have done so against the wishes of those having possession of those cities or territories, let him be deposed, as well as those whom he has ordained”[17].

              “Let no bishop dare to go from one province to another and ordain anyone in church... unless invited to come by letter from the metropolitan and other bishops of the territory into which he is going. Should anyone so go without invitation and irregularly ordain someone in violation of the order of the things in the church... anything performed by him is invalid. He himself shall incur a suitable punishment for his irregular behaviour and his unreasonable enterprise, having already been deposed from office by the holy Synod” (Canon 13 of the Synod in Antioch)[18].

              Thus, according to Orthodox canonical teaching and ecclesiology, “each of the patriarchs should be content with his own privileges and not seize any of those of another eparchy, since from the beginning it is not under his hand. For this is conceit in secular power...”[19].

              This canonical order of the Church, based on ecclesiological dogmatic conditions, i.e. on ţhe teaching concerning the Church, its structures, its bishops, its work, its jurisdiction and so on is its official and unshakable position. It is based on Holy Scripture, the sacred canons and the decisions of Ecumenical Synods, which, as expressions of the infallibility of the Church, are obligatory for all the local Orthodox Churches. Besides, the Orthodox Catholic Church, despite its administrative decentralization is still, one, with common faith and dogma. The same sacraments sanctify within it, the same synodical canons regulate matters of its life and order within it.

              The Church was revealed by God to the world through Jesus Christ for the salvation of all people and of the world itself, regardless of race,and not to serve political or personal ambitions or other secular pursuits and opportunistic goals. The Church is not Russian or Greek, Serbian or Rumanian and so on, but the Orthodox Catholic Church in Greece, in Russia, in Serbia, in Rumania and so on. The boundaries of the local Churches are geographical and were defined not with national and racial criteria, but with administrative ones, following, in general, the civil administrative divisions of the Roman Empire (Saint Photios), in order to provide the best pastoral care for the people of God, irrespective of race, to bring them to salvation in Christ.

              Ethnophyletism is a phenomenon which arose at the end of the 18th and the 19th centuries, a product of the Enlightenment and the French revolution. It was the new political theory, on the basis of which were created the nation states of Europe, and, in particular, those of the Balkan peninsula. This theory is, alas, still being applied in the Balkans today, with its familiar disastrous consequences on the lives of the people of the region and on peace.

              The idea of “the nation” in the historical sources, in the lives of ordinary people and in the formation of states before the 18th century, i.e. before the French revolution, did not have the ethnophyletic meaning which is attributed to it today. In antiquity and until the 18th/19th centuries, “the nation” was defined by religion and culture, not by race. This was the politico-religious theory of the Persians, of the Ancient Greeks, of the pagan Romans and also of the Christian Romans (Byzantines), as well as of the Jews (as it still is to this day), and of the Muslims. When the latter, Arabs first and then later the Ottomans, conquered Roman (“Byzantine”) countries and territories, they applied an administration “by nations” (millet), i. e. by religious communities, not by race. The religious leaders of the communities within the Muslim states were also ethnarchs of these communities. So the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople was also the ethnarch of the Orthodox Christian “nation” within the Ottoman Empire, irrespective of race or language, as were the other patriarchs, metro-politans and other bishops locally. The Sultan/Caliph was the ethnarch of the Muslims, irrespective of the particular race, and so on[20]. The ideas of the French revolution (1789) and of the Enlightenment created, as has been said, a new political theory, which ignored religion or culture as elements shaping communities and administrative units. States were now formed according to this dominant theory, on the basis of ethnophyletic criteria — either those already in existence or, mainly, those invented by means of politics or propaganda — with all the melancholy consequences we know today (ethnic cleansing and so on). Of course, for Christ and His Church, “there is neither Jew nor Greek... for all of you are one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3, 28).

              To a great extent, then, the politics of nationality which was dominant in the 19th century created the nation states of Europe, and particularly those of the Balkan Peninsula. An immediate consequence of this was the dissection in South-Eastern Europe of the Orthodox Catholic Church, the unified task of which underwent considerable external transformation. The most significant points of evolution were:

1. the creation of national Churches which, for a certain time were alienated from each other, and

2. the gradual entry into the East of a secular (profane) spirit and, particularly, of individual Liberalism, based on intellectual currents imported from the West[21].

              Those who were informed with this spirit of ethnophyletism collaborated with foreign political powers and were moved to declare the arbitrary autocephaly of churches in Greece (1833), Rumania (1865), Bulgaria (1870) and Albania (1922-1928-1937). The Church of Serbia displayed a different and more peaceful spirit.

              It is a fact that the then Great Powers had planned the dissolution of the ailing Ottoman Empire and its restriction to Asia, though not the restoration of the Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantium) which could have proved a competitor to their economic and political interests in the Balkans and in the Eastern Mediterranean. On the basis of the prevailing political theory of ethnophyletism, they preferred the creation of small, weak states which would be dependent upon them. In order for these ambitions to succeed, the spiritual, cultural and ecclesiastical unity of the region also had to be shattered, and local autocephalous Churches established, subservient to the states created, which were, in their turn and depending on circumstances, subservient to one or the other Great Power.   

              Cognizant of its responsibilities towards Orthodoxy, as the First Throne of the Church, the Ecumenical Patriarchate, independently of the conditions prevailing at the time, adopted a position against this most significant phenomenon. Initially, it censured the Greeks (1833-1850) and then, at the Great (Μείζων) Local Synod in Constantinople (1872), went on to condemn ethnophyletism, which was not merely a deviation from the healthy love of one's nation and state, but constitutes a real impediment to cooperation between local Orthodox Churches in the world and is the greatest enemy to the unity of the Church.

              This Great Synod published a “Resolution” condemning ethnophyletism in the Church, a resolution which was based on general principles formulated by a special committee of the Synod[22].

In brief, these general principles are as follows:

“... in the Christian Church, a society which is spiritual and charged by its Head and Founder to include all nations in one Christian brotherhood, phyletism is foreign and completely unthinkable. And, indeed, phyletism, i. e. the formation of special national Churches in the same place, which accept all those of the same race, but exclude all those of other races and which are administered solely by those of the same race, are unheard of and unprecedented , though they are what the adherents of phyletism aspire to.”

              All the Christian Churches, founded in all places, were, from the beginning, local, containing the faithful of a particular city, or a particular local region, without racial discrimination. And thus, they were usually named after the city or territory, but not the racial provenance, of the members.

              In the first place, the Church of Jerusalem consisted, as is well known, of Jews and proselytes of various nations. In the same way, the Churches of Antioch, Alexandria, Ephesus, Rome and all the others were made up of Jews and Gentiles. Each of these Churches constituted in itself something compact and indivisible; each recognized as its apostles the apostles of Christ, all of whom were Jews by race; each had a bishop ordained by these apostles, without any regard to race, as the history of the first Churches of Christ testifies...

              This way of establishing Churches in various localities also obtained after the apostolic age, i. e. in the regional or Diocese Churches, which were defined in accordance with the prevailing civil divisions or other historical reasons. The congregation of the faithful in each of these churches consisted of Christians of every race and language.

              Thus, the Churches of the Patriarchal Thrones of Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, Jerusalem and the Archbishopric of Cyprus, which have, by God's grace, been preserved to this day, are local Churches, in the sense that they are contained within geographical boundaries. They are not national. This is why they are named after the capital city rather than after the various nations of which they consisted: Greeks, for example, Egyptians, Syrians, Arabs, Wallachians, Moldavians, Serbs, Bulgarians and others among those who usually live in concourse in the regions of these Churches.

              Such, also, were the boundaries of the archbishoprics of Ochrid, Pec and Turnavo: i. e. Churches within drawn boundaries. They were neither constituted by reason of phyletism nor were their members of the same race and language. The later expressions “Latin, Greek, Armenian Church” and so on, do not, in general, express discrimination by nation, but differences in dogma. In the same way, the Church of Greece, of Russia, of Serbia, of Wallachia, of Moldova, or, more improperly, the Russian, Greek, Serbian etc. Church, mean autocephalous or semi-independent Churches in autonomous or semi-independent realms and with definite boundaries: those of the political realm, beyond which they have no ecclesiastical jurisdiction. It follows that they exist not because of nationality, but because of the political situation, and that their members are not all of one race and language...

              The Fathers of the Holy Synods- partial or general, local or ecumenical- did not present themselves in an ethnic capacity, either their own or that of their flocks, but as representing the Church of which they were the head. And if, in the acts of the first synods and in Church history we do find bishops designated not by city or territory, but by nation, such as bishop of the Saracens, of the Goths or of the Scythians, this was so because of the ill-defined and badly constituted political and social conditions within some nations. Such titles can therefore easily be understood, since only a few people within these nations had accepted the Christian faith and had not yet gathered together in towns.

              And if we have recourse to these very sacred canons, on which the structure of the Church is founded, we shall find not a trace of phyletism. The canons dealing with the election and consecration of bishops, metropolitans and patriarchs, as well as of the other functionaries of the Church nowhere define the racial characteristic as a qualification of eligibility. They mention only the moral and religious qualities which were laid down by the Apostle of the Gentiles in his epistles to Timothy and Titus. In the same way, the sacred canons of local Churches, which were aimed at the constitution, unification, or division of eparchies and parishes, projected ecclesiastical or political necessity, never ethnophyletic aspirations...

              But the principle of phyletism also overturns the sacred structure of the Orthodox Church. The structure of the Orthodox Church, i.e. its administrative organization as a visible communion, is apparent in the sum total of its legislation, which is made up of the divine and sacred canons of the holy Apostles and of the Holy Synods, both ecumenical and local. Any action referring to the Church and tending towards the infringement of these canons in whole or in part, essentially violates the very structure of the Church... Canon 8, for instance, of the 1st Ecumenical Synod legislates that: “there be not two bishops in the city”. But, according to the principle of phyletism, two, three, or more bishops of the same faith can have their seats in the same city; in other words, as many as there are races living there. Canon 12 of the 4th Ecumenical Synod states: “Let there not be two metrqpolitans in the same eparchy”. But, according to phyletism, two or more metropolitans can have one and the same province as their see, depending on the number of races there[23].

              Stricture against abrogation of the Church politeuma[24] (by phyletism) is even clearer in the Churches of the Dioceses (Patriarchates and autocephalous Churches). Canon 2 of the 2nd Ecumenical Synod says:

“Let bishops not go to churches beyond the boundaries of their own dioceses...”

              The Synods of these Dioceses together with their primate, president, archbishop, exarch or patriarch, constitute the highest ecclesiastical authority in the whole region of the Diocese. And according to this institution, there remain to this day Orthodox Patriarchates in the lands of the East, and, in the other realms, the administrative synods with their presidents. But according to the aspirations of the phyletists, there are no specific loci for the administration of the local Church. The racial, highest ecclesiastical jurisdictions also expand and contract in accordance with the eternal ebb and flow of nations, in groups or as individuals, wandering and migrating hither and thither...Thus, in one and the same ecclesiastical diocese, there will be, on the one hand, many exarchs or patriarchs of the same faith, and, on the other, many administrative synods of the same faith, in despite of so many sacred canons. In sum, according to the principles of phyletism, it is not possible for Diocesan Churches, Patriarchal, provincial or metropolitan Churches to exist, nor for there to be a bishopric or even a simple parish or church in some small village or settlement, if they are to have their own area and are to include all those of the same faith living therein”.

              This Report, which also contains other historical and canonical arguments, concludes: “If things are thus, as, indeed, they are, phyletism is clearly in opposition to and conflict with the spirit and the teaching of Christ...”

              These general theological, historical and canonical principles expressed in this Report were taken into consideration by the Holy and Great Local Synod which met at Constantinople in August, 1872. It condemned phyletism and published a “Resolution” (Όρος) concerning it, in which, among other things, the following is stated: “censuring and condemning it, we reject phyletism, that is racial discrimination and nationalistic contention, enmities and discord in the Church of Christ as being contrary to the teaching of the Gospel and the sacred canons of our holy Fathers, who support the holy Church and adorn the whole of the Christian life, leading to divine Godliness”[25].

              Despite this, and after the decision of the Synod in Constantinople, phyletism, in the sense of unrestrained nationalism, unfortunately continued to influence the thoughts and actions of some local Orthodox Churches in this direction, at least as regards certain questions, to the detriment of Church unity. This is clear in the so-called Orthodox Diaspora, where canonical disorder prevails and where the nationalist element is powerful[26].

              Orthodox faithful, members at first of different local Ghurches and states, have emigrated to new countries, settled and live there. They no longer belong, in Church terms, to the ecclesiastical provinces from which they came, because, as residents now of these new countries, they belong to the new ecclesiastical province in which they have settled and in which they experience their eucharistic and sacramental and spiritual life. They are thus members of the local Church under its bishop. This was always the canonical way of ordering things, it was the practice and tradition of the Church and has continued to this day in regions other than the new countries mentioned earlier. In Egypt, for example, in Libya, Pentapolis and the other territories of Africa, which are subject to the jurisdiction of the Patriarch of Alexandria,.new churches are being established by missionaries or emigrants. These new communities are independent of the national provenance of the missionaries or of the emigrants or of the original autocephalous Church from which they came. The missionaries and emigrants, living and working in the region proper to the Patriarch of Alexandria, and with his canonical permission, are automatically placed under his jurisdiction. The same is true in Antioch, in Jerusalem and so on. This ought also to be the case in the new ecclesiastical provinces of America, Australia and so on, though it is not so because here the criteria of ethnophylestism prevail to this day[27].

              The Orthodox Church is, in general, conscious of the ecclesiological and canonical irregularity which was created by the appearance of ethnophyletism in the 19th century and which is apparent in the formation and establishment of new provinces in America and elsewhere.

              For this reason, one of the subjects for discussion by the Holy and Great Synod of the Orthodox Church which is to be convened is also that of the so-called Diaspora, on the basis of canonical order and Orthodox ecclesiology and not ethnophyletic criteria. A good deal of progress has been achieved in this direction by the preparatory committee of the Synod in its sessions. The application of canonical order in the new provinces of the so-called Orthodox Diaspora does not mean uniformity in the parishes. Today's pastoral reality, and expediency, would not permit the absorption of one by the other and the levelling out of everything. Besides, as we see in the Gospel, Jesus Christ, the “Good Shepherd” and the “Chief Shepherd” of the Church, did not scorn the cultural features of His environment.

              He did not destroy things that were well-loved, but rather used these features in order to communicate with people and save them. People must certainly retain their faith above all, but without feeling contempt for their culture and without being cut off from their roots[28].

              This variety, which enriches the life of the Church in the new provinces and is demonstrably necessary, pastorally, for the survival and development of the local communities, must find expression within the ecclesiological and canonical framework defined by the sacred canons and decisions of the Patriarchal and Synodical Tomes of the Ecumenical Throne concerning the autocephalous status of the recent autocephalous Churches, and thus provide diversity in canonical unity, within the defined territorial limits of the local Churches.



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* A paper read at the International Congress of Canon Law, Budapest, 2-7 September 2001.   



[1]. Valsamon, Commentary on Canon 6 of the1st Ecumenical Synod. Cf. Similar commentaries by Zonaras and Aristenos on the same canon, in RALLIS AND POTLIS, Constitution of the Divine and Sacred canons... (in Greek), vol. II, p. 129.

[2]. Valsamon, commentary an Canon 6 of the 1st Ecumenical Synod,    RALLIS AND POTLIS, op. cit. vol. II, p. 131.

[3]. MANSI 7,179.

[4]. Valsamon, Commentary on Canon 6 of the 1st Ecumenical Synod, RALLIS AND POTLIS, op cit.    vol. II, p. 129.

[5]. Cf. Canon 36 of the Quinisext Ecumenical Synod.

[6]. This title has been in use for the Patriarch of Constantinople since the 6th century. He is the bishop of the capital of the Roman Empire, i. e. of the whole of the inhabited, civilized world, according to the political theory of the Romans.

[7]. Canon 3 of the 2nd Ecumenical Synod, Canon 28 of the 4th Ecumenical Synod, Canon 36 of'the Quinisext Ecumenical Synod.

[8]. Canon 36 of the Quinisext Ecumenical Synod. Cf. Novella 131 of Justinian, Basilika, BookV, title 3.

[9]. Interpretation of Zonaras of the above canon.

[10]. Interpretation of Valsamon of Canon 28 of the 4th Ecumenical Synod.

[11]. RALLIS AND POTLIS, op.cit., vol V, p. 474. Cf. also the Cataloque    of Neilos Doxapatris in Goar in Allatius' de Consensu, p. 411 (note 1 in RALLIS AND POTLIS).

[12]. According to the testimony to the undersigned of G. Ferrari, late Professor of Patrology and Dogmatics in the Theological School of Bari, the Archbishop of Paronaxia was sent to these eparchies by the Ecumenical Patriarch in the 18th century on a pastoral tour.

[13]. On the term “Barbarian” in the canons, see MAXIMOS, METROPOLITAN    OF SARDEIS, The Ecumenical Patriarchate in the Orthodox Church (in Greek), Thessaloniki 21989, p. 277..   

[14]. Cf. Vlasios PHEIDAS, “Οικουμενικός Θρόνος και Ορθόδοξος Διασπορά” in Ορθόδοξος Μαρτυρία και Σκέψις art. 19, 1979, pp. 5-6.

[15]. In RAlLIS and POTLIS, op. cit. vol. V, p. 474. Cf. the registers of Darrouzes and Gelzer “Notitiae episcopatuum...”.

[16]. In RALLIS AND POTLIS, op. rit., vol. V, p. 149 ff.

[17]. Canon 35 of the Apostles.

[18]. Cf. also Canons 6 and 15 of the Ist Ecumenical Synod and the interpretations of these by Zonaras, Valsamon, Aristenos. Also Canon 8 of the 3rd Ecumenical Synod and interpretations of it.

[19]. Comment by Aristenos on Canon 6 of the Ist Ecumenical Synod, in RALLIS AND POTLIS op. cit. vol. II, p. 131.

[20]. Cf.    Sir Stephen RUNCIMAN,    The Orthodox Churches and the Secular State, p. 26 ff. Auckland Oxford 1971. On the meaning of    “Nation” in the sacred canons, see Canon 34 of the Apostles, which is repeated in Canon 9 of the Synod in Antioch. See also the interpretation of Zonaras on this.    “Nation” in the sacred canons means the metropolitan province as geographical boundaries.

[21]. MAXIMOS, METROPOLITAN OF SARDEIS, The Ecumenical Patriarchate op.cit.    p. 320. Cf. Gerasimos konidaris, The Greek Church as a Cultural Force in the History of the Balkan Peninsula (in Greek), pp. 28-29.

[22].    The text of the Report is in MAXIMOS, METROPOLITAN OF SARDEIS, op. cit. pp. 323-330.

[23]. The text of the Report also refers to Canons 34 and 35 of the Holy Apostles, Canon 2 of the 2nd Ecumenical Synod; Canon 8 of the 3rd Ecumenical Synod; Canon 6 of the Ist and Canon 28 of the 4th.

[24]. The 'politeuma' of the Church is the system of governance in the Church, in its ecclesiological and canonical dimension.

[25]. In MAXIMOS, METROPOLITAN OF SARDEIS, op, cit. pp. 323-330.

[26]. For more, see PANTELEIMON RODOPOULOS (METROPOLITAN    OF TYROLOE AND SERENTION), An Ecclesiological and Canonical View of the Orthodox Diaspora, in his collection Meletai    A', Thessaloniki 1993, pp. 180-181 (in Greek).

[27]. panteleimon rodopoulos, op. cit.    184-185.

[28]. metropolitan aimilianos of selyvria, The Revitalization of the Local Community, (in Greek), in Επίσκεψις 192 (1978), p. 10