The Primate of the Alexandrian Throne celebrated Vespers for the Thronal Feast of the Ecumenical Patriarchate
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“The historic decision of the renowned Patriarchate of Alexandria to recognize the Autocephalous Church of Ukraine proves your faithfulness to the unchangeable regular canonical order of the Orthodox Church,” said the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew in his address on Friday, November 29, welcoming to the See of the Mother Church the Pope and Patriarch Theodore II of Alexandria, who came, accompanied by Metropolitan George of Guinea and by the Chief Secretary of his Holy Synod, Archimandrite Nicodemos, to participate in the Throne Day of the First-Throned Church of Constantinople.
“This courageous action is a decisive contribution to the cause of the unity of Orthodoxy, insofar as it is a practical expression and validation of its ecclesiology, established by the Ecumenical Councils and expressed in the practice of the Church, that autocephaly is granted exclusively by the Mother Church of Constantinople,” remarked His All-Holiness before the Hierarchs of the Throne, as well as the Delegation of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, and added: “The questioning and alteration of the central principles of the Orthodox ecclesiology in the name of extra-ecclesiastical interests, ‘not devoted to the good’ of the people of God, but serving alien purposes, shakes the foundations of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church, secularizes its life and converts it into a confederation, dominated by one part to the detriment of the whole body, with the Church’s original synodal character disintegrating under its weight. All these things threaten the functioning of the Church as the Body of Christ, as a divine and human community, as a prophetic voice in the world, and as a testimony of the Kingdom of God ‘in the fullness of power’ (Mark 9:1).”
In his address, the Ecumenical Patriarch made a special reference to the missionary activity of the Patriarch of Alexandria in Africa and to the work done for the benefit of the suffering people of this great continent.
“Congratulations for all you have done with so much love for the children of the God of love in ‘all Africa.’ We also commend the uninterrupted interest of Your Beatitude for the wonderful functioning of ecclesiastical matters in the Patriarchate of Alexandria. You are a faithful bearer and upholder of the tradition of the Church, as a living witness to the heritage of the Fathers in the context of specific historical circumstances. You have struggled to staff your Metropolises with capable officers, distinguished for their ecclesiastical views, for their devotion to the Church of Christ, and for their willingness to offer to man the ‘loving God.’”
“For the past fifteen years, you have been the experienced and wise man of the Church of the Evangelist Mark. You have accomplished many things, a world of things, and continue today to minister to the Church of God with the enthusiasm and dynamism of a child of Crete, a bearer of the spirit of St. Agatharos, the monastery of your repentance.”
His All-Holiness then underlined the important contribution of the Patriarch Theodore and the Church of Alexandria in the final decisive phase of the preparation of the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church and its realization.
“Always at the side of the President of the Council, you left your indelible stamp on the discussions and decisions. Your intervention in the discussion of the theological meaning and significance of the ‘person’ will always be unforgettable to the Council Fathers, when you pointed out with great emphasis that on your return to Africa, what would be required would be practical support for the faithful, their daily bread and care, the solution to specific everyday problems, the protection of children and mothers, and much more, the treatment of which requires practical solutions rather than theoretical approaches; aid, a sacrificial spirit, brotherhood and love. The Church is ordained, in the future, ‘not to be served, but to be serve’ her Lord. In service to one’s neighbor is the prospect of eternal life for man. ‘Amen, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me’” (Matt. 25:40).
Visibly moved by the words of His All-Holiness, His Beatitude the Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria, in his response, referred to the timeless support that the Church of Constantinople offered to the venerable Throne of Alexandria, which, he emphasized, would always support the Ecumenical Throne.
“I would like you, Your All-Holiness, to know that I follow the Mother Church with all my heart because, my God, my God, how many times will we read in libraries how much Alexandria has been helped from Constantinople. For four hundred years, Your All-Holiness, the Patriarchs of Alexandria lived here, so that the title of Alexandria would not disappear. And the Geron of Derkon had the privilege of preparing the election of the Patriarch of Alexandria every time.
“And you should, Your All-Holiness, in these great moments that you, as the Mother Church, designated, your sister Church, the venerable Patriarchate of Alexandria, will follow you, because we are always together.”
The Patriarch of Alexandria recalled the words and exhortations of his predecessor, the blessed Patriarch Parthenios, a graduate of the Halki Theological School, who, as he said, shortly before his death, advised him always to support the Ecumenical Throne. And he reiterated that in this regard he also had ‘the wholehearted agreement of the priests of the Synod of the Throne of Alexandria.’
“And I want you to know, Your All-Holiness, that our Church, the venerable, apostolic, ancient Patriarchate, always follows and will support, support for centuries, the glorious and blessed Ecumenical Throne and you. […]
“That is why I came, Your All-Holiness, with my entourage to work, to commune with the Holy Chalice, and to express our gratitude so that it is known that Alexandria honors our Constantinople, respects and loves our venerable Ecumenical Patriarch.”
The Patriarch of Alexandria then celebrated Vespers in the Patriarchal Church on the occasion of the Feast of St. Andrew the First-Called, Founder of the Church of Constantinople. His All-Holiness and many Hierarchs attended, praying together at the bema.
The Patriarch of Alexandria, with the permission of His All-Holiness, performed the monastic tonsure of Vasilios Grigoriadis, whose ordination to the diaconate will be performed by the Ecumenical Patriarch at tomorrow’s Divine Liturgy. The candidate clergyman is intended to serve in the Patriarchal Court.
At the end of Vespers, His Beatitude was addressed by the Head of the Delegation of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, Archbishop Chernigiv Efstratios, thanking the venerable Patriarchate of Alexandria and His Beatitude for the recent decision to recognize their Church, with the inclusion of the name of the Metropolitan of Kiev in the Diptychs.In response, Patriarch Theodore, among other things, asked the Delegation of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church to convey “the good wishes of the venerable and historic Patriarchate and Throne, from the depths of the ages, which do not call for evidence of history, because these Churches are history and these are the Church.”
Present at Vespers and praying together were the Hierarchs of the Throne, the Delegation of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, under Archbishop Chernigiv and Niznas Efstratios, the Metropolitan Michael of Lutsk and Volyn, who was visiting the City as the head of a group of pilgrims from his Eparchy, clergy, monks and nuns, the members and officers of the Greek Delegation to the Interparliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy, the Archons Offikion Mr. Maximos Harakopoulos, Athanasios Davakis, Andreas Michailidis, Ioannis Sarakiotis and Konstantinos Migdalis, and many believers from the City, as well as from Greece and other countries.