Despite a strong letter send by his All Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, to the Metropolitans of the so-called new lands, asking them not to go against Mother Church in the upcoming meeting of all Greek Hierarchs, November 4 and 5, ecclesiastical circles in Athens said that negotiating efforts were fruitful and if no provocation take place to destroy the good climate, a compromise will be reached. According to sources, both parties will give assurances to respect the status quo that exists since 1928.
Government spokesman Christos Protopapas denied any government involvement in two initiatives to bring about a reconciliation in a dispute between the Church of Greece and the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Fanar, describing them as ”private”. The spokesman stressed that the government had not known about either initiative beforehand.
Protopapas was referring to a visit to the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s seat in Istanbul by Piraeus Metropolitan Kallinikos, who was given an audience with Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos on Wednesday, and a separate initiative by the former governor of the semi-autonomous monastic community of Mount Athos, Stavros Psycharis, who was also scheduled to meet with Vartholomeos on the same day.
Since their visits coincided, Vartholomeos invited Kallinikos and Psycharis to take part in a single informal meeting, which Fanar took pains to stress as friendly rather than ‘institutional’.
Also taking part in the meeting were Demetriada Metropolitan Ignatios, who accompanied Kallinikos, and the deputy governor of Mount Athos, who accompanied Psycharis, in addition to three metropolitans attached to the Patriarch’s staff.
The talks focused on ways to overcome a crisis in relations between the Church of Greece and the Istanbul-based Patriarchate, regarding the administration of the so-called ”new lands” in the north of Greece.
In an announcement later, the Patriarchate underlined that no agreement was achieved during the meeting, since all sides agreed the issue should be examined by the synodic councils on both sides.
Athens Archbishop Christodoulos, head of the Church of Greece, told reporters on Wednesday that he was aware of both initiatives and approved of ”all serious efforts that seek to achieve a peaceful solution” to the differences between the two Churches.
Sources said that Kallinikos had visited the archbishop on Tuesday and outlined the message he intended to convey to Fanar during his visit, something confirmed by Christodoulos in statements during an event at the Vatican Embassy in Athens to celebrate Pope John Paul II’s silver jubilee.
”They are both acting with my knowledge and have my approval and we hope they succeed, that’s the objective,” Christodoulos
The key orthodox seminary of Halki in Turkey, which Turkish authorities closed in 1974, could reopen next year, the Istanbul-based Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomaios was quoted as saying yesterday by the Athens News Agency. “We are optimistic, the (Turkish) government appears to have understood the necessity and legality of (the seminary reopening) which is our right,” Vartholomaios was quoted as saying.