NEW YORK.- His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew in a letter to His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios dated, February 19, 2004, announced a historic decision that drastically modifies the composition of the Holy and Sacred Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
The Holy and Sacred Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate henceforth will be comprised of six Hierarchs residing in the Holy See of Constantinople and of six Hierarchs from the other eparchies of the Ecumenical Throne, outside of Turkey, who will periodically be invited to participate.
In the same letter, His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew appointed Archbishop Demetrios a member of this new Holy and Sacred Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in the new synodal period, which commences March 1st, 2004.
Under the new regulation, the “non-Turkish” members of the Holy Synod will be, Archbishop Demetrios of America, Archbishop Ierotheos of Crete, of Britain (Thiatiron) Gregory and the Metropolitans of Rhodes, Nikea and Proussa.
The Patriarchal decision satisfies a long term request by hierarchs belonging to the Patriarchate, but they were excluded form the administration, because they were not Turkish citizens. Archbishop of Australia Stylianos has had criticized sharply Bartholomew and he refused to attend the meetings, until “the full restoration of synodic system in the administration of the Ecumenical Patriarchate”. Although one of the more senior hierarchs, and head of the second largest province, Stylianos was not called.
In his letter, published in our Greek pages, Patriarch Bartholomew says that after the meetings of all the hierarchs that were held at the Fanar every two years, it was obvious that the time was helpful for such an enlargement, providing that obstacles raised in the past won’t occur again.
Former Archbishop Spyridon, in a written statement to the GreekNews while he characterized the step as positive, he wonders if anything has changed in Turkey’s stance vis-à-vis the Patriarchate, or if this modification is yet another hasty move so that “all arrows in the quiver” are in place for a new round in the disastrous conflict over the “New Lands” dioceses”.
Ecclesiastical sources expect this move to pave the way of allowing a non Turkish citizen to be elected in the Ecumenical throne. The last non Turkish Patriarch was Athenagoras who received Turkish citizenship at the Istanbul Airport.