in the coming weeks, the Ecumenical Patriarch’s profile in the Western and Anglophone world will certainly rise. The average age of his most visible representatives will plunge by nearly 40 years as younger clerics take over Greek-Orthodox sees in New York, London and Sydney. Mike Pompeo, President Donald Trump’s secretary of state, has invited Patriarch Bartholomew to America in July to give a speech on the environment. The choice of topic will come more naturally to the guest, a staunch greenie, than to the host.
As part of an apparent effort to counter-balance Muscovite influence in the Orthodox world, Patriarch Bartholomew has in recent weeks visibly mended his relations with the Archbishop of Athens, Ieronymos, by patching up their arcane quarrels over church jurisdiction in parts of Greece. That paved the way for Archbishop Ieronymos to join the primate of the new Ukrainian church, Epifaniy, and many other Bartholomew-minded hierarchs at celebrations in Istanbul of the Ecumenical Patriarch’s personal feast-day on June 11th. To judge by the reaction on social media, this innocent-seeming event caused much fury in the Muscovite camp and much pleasure in the opposing one.
Meanwhile in Ukraine, ecclesiastical disputes roll on in an often bizarre way. Controversy swirls around 90-year-old Filaret Denysenko, a veteran and still-vigorous player in the high politics of Orthodoxy since the Soviet era. Having narrowly failed to become Patriarch of Moscow, he led a breakaway Ukrainian church in 1992 and was duly defrocked and disgraced by his erstwhile colleagues in Moscow, some of whom he had helped to consecrate as bishops.
Since then the nonagenarian has styled himself the Patriarch of Kiev, a title that few people outside Ukraine recognise. In recent months, he has voiced bitter disappointment over the fact he was not put in charge of the newly-established Orthodox Church in Ukraine, and he has openly challenged the authority of 40-year-old Epifaniy, who was once his close aide.
The gift of overcoming barriers eludes the world’s Orthodox Christians https://t.co/4xCiRtjJAG
— The Economist (@TheEconomist) June 15, 2019