The gap between the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Church of Greece is deepening, and as GreekNews reported last week, even a schism is possible. With a very harsh statement, on Friday, the Patriarchate condemns the comments of the former ND President Miltiadis Evert, and asked politicians not to involve themselves in Church matters. A plan by ecclesiastic circles in Greece to reduce the Patriarchal status was denounced by Mr. Vartholomeos, attributing the current crisis to human ambitions and bad counseling of Archbishop Christodoulos.
“I prefer peace. But if I am provoked to war, my quiver is full of arrows,” Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomaios told private Mega television channel when questioned about an ongoing feud between himself and Archbishop Christodoulos over the control of 36 Greek sees.
“If this effort continues to saw off the legs supporting the Ecumenical Patriarchate, then I very much fear we will reach a schism,” he added.
Also, Vartholomaios urged European Union leaders to refer to Europe’s Christian heritage in its new Constitution during a conference in Istanbul attended by EU lawmakers.
Reactions by the country’s political leadership over a brewing feud between the powerful Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Greece and the ancient Ecumenical Patriarchate continued last week, with both the government spokesman and a former New Democracy leader urging restraint.
However, high-ranking deputy and former ND leader Miltiades Evert also stressed that national interests mandate that the Church of Greece retain the administrative control over bishoprics in northern Greece and the eastern and northern Aegean. Evert nevertheless stressed that he respects and honors the Istanbul-based Patriarchate above all.
Government spokesman Christos Protopapas said any inter-Church differences must be resolved responsibly and with cool-headedness. He added that the government’s stance is dictated by a deep faith and “respect for (their) distinctive roles.” Adding to that, Tilemachos Hitiris. Said that for every problem there is a solution, and the solution to the problems between the Archbishopric of Greece and the Ecumenical Patriarchate should be reached by the Church itself for its own good and the good of Orthodoxy. He made the statement responding to a relevant question by reporters and reiterated that everybody should be very careful, the press included, when dealing with the issue.
According to Athens daily “To Vima”, many Greek politicians, belonging to New Democracy Party, among the former Prime Minister Mitsotakis are planning to publicly support Archbishop Christodoulos.
Replying to a question on Saturday, Press Minister Protopapas said on the Church issue, that the state will not intervene on an important issue of Orthodoxy, which must be resolved within the Church itself. New Democracy officials must stop their unacceptable interventions, and show the minimum of seriousness and responsibility, he underlined.