What about me?

Published On: 25/08/2023

Patriarch of Alexandria Theodore responded with a letter to the appeal of His Holiness Serbian Patriarch Porphyry, in which His Holiness Patriarch Porphyry intercedes for Metropolitan of Vyshgorod and Chernobyl Pavel from Ukraine, who is unjustly imprisoned while the faithful in Ukraine are being persecuted and their human rights violated on a daily basis. This noble gesture, deeply Christian and indeed humane, by His Holiness Porphyry, to apeal to the consciousness of world religious leaders on behalf of those who are being persecuted on the basis of their Christian faith and membership in the only canonical Orthodox Church in Ukraine resonates with every faithful heart. But it seems not so much with that of the Patriarch of Alexandria.

It is simply astonishing that the Patriarch of Alexandria utilised such an occasion, an apeal relating to the suffering of the faithfull people of Ukraine, only to call the attention to himself and to wail about the suposed invasion of his jurisdiction by the Russians. He compares the suffering of the faithful in Ukraine to the alleged suffering of his flock, some of whom, parenthetically, moved over to the Russian jurisdiction completely voluntarily and of their own initiative. The Patriarch of Alexandria was the first to violate the teritorial jurisdiction of the Russian Church with his recognition of an illegitimate churchlike organisation for the legitimate Church in Ukraine. Because of this, some of his flock deemed this action uncanonical, dissented and asked to be accepted into the Russian Church instead. The Russians waited for two years before receiving the clergy and people who left the jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Alexandria for the said reason.

It is hard to believe that an Orthodox Primate of such a high rank as the Patriarch of Alexandria would stoop to a level of a cheap attempt to involve the Most Holy Serbian Orthodox Church into a dispute that he personaly has with the Russian Orthodox Church. A dispute caused, one must add, by his own actions alone. And furthermore, to attempt all this over such an uncontroversial issue as intercession by the Serbian Patriarch for a brother bishop who is imprisoned in violation of all civilised norms.

One cannot but wonder whether institutional Orthodoxy is really impaired to such a degree that it can tolerate egoism of this magnitude coupled with a complete absence of any sense of justice, where such utterances as those of Patriarch of Alexandria can be put in writing and dispersed worldwide without as much as a trace of shame? How can the looting and burning of temples, beating and terrorising the clergy and the faithful, deprivation of civil and human rights and even citizenship, deportations, raids, imprisonments, and the like, ever be compared to a voluntary transfer of a number of clergy to another jurisdiction?

If Patriarch of Alexandria wishes to talk about the suffering of his flock, he could perhaps cite examples of how he forbade “his flock” access to the only well of drinking water as a punishment for moving to another jurisdiction. Or, perhaps how some stole Russian antimensions only to take pictures and mock them, or how his bishops retaliated against disenting clergy in various ways, and many similar violations of their rights and even basic human dignity.

But no, the Patriarch of Alexandria instead chose to publically call out and almost condemn His Holiness the Serbian Patriarch for His apeal to respect the human rights of an unjustly condemned brother in Christ, other clergy and faithful, the suffering Body of Christ in Ukraine. Patriarch of Alexandria used this most solemn occasion in the most shameful and unbecoming manner to simply say: “what about me”.

Vedran Gagić