Following the rubles seems to be a reliable predictor of where a given Patriarchate will stand on the question of Ukrainian autocephaly.
A May 19, 2019 report by Russia’s Union of Orthodox “Journalists”—arguably the Moscow Patriarchate’s most loyal peddler of propaganda after the Department for External Church Relations itself—cites the following statement by Patriarch Theophilus III of Jerusalem, delivered by his proxy to the Imperial Orthodox Palestine Society and published on the Patriarchate’s website.
The Patriarch’s statement is remarkable for two reasons: first, while Jerusalem is lauded as “the Mother of the Churches” in our liturgical hymnography, we question where in Orthodox tradition the Patriarchate derives its self-designation as the guarantor of the unity of the Orthodox Church; and second, Theophilus makes no attempt to hide his reliance on Russian money as he heaps praise on Vladimir Putin and—as the UOJ is keen to point out—rejects the autocephaly of, and eucharistic communion with, the Orthodox Church of Ukraine.
Patriarch Theophilus III of Jerusalem
Respected Members of the Council,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Christ is risen!
We greet you with the joy of this Paschal season with the greeting that is also the triumph of our Orthodox faith. From this Holy City of Jerusalem, the light of the resurrection has spread to the whole world.
We welcome this seminar as you meet in Jerusalem. You meet at a time when our Christian witness is so important in support of the Christian presence in the Holy Land and the Middle East, and when the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate is playing a leading role in promoting deeper relationships among the Christian communities here. Such deepening relationships are crucial for the well-being of a vital, vibrant Christian presence.
The Patriarchate is also promoting important interfaith dialogue, and above all we are maintaining the multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, multi-religious character of Jerusalem and the Middle East.
The Church of Jerusalem, which is the Mother of all the Churches, is the guarantor of the unity of the Orthodox Church. We acknowledge especially the role that the Russian Orthodox Church has played down the centuries, and especially during the Ottoman period, in supporting the Church of Jerusalem politically, diplomatically, and of course, financially. But we need to acknowledge that there were also difficult times that tested our relationship; we must learn from them and work towards strengthening our Orthodox unity.
In the spirit of our Orthodox unity, we must learn from the past. We must always speak and act in ways that support the life and mission of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem in this region. We are the one, holy catholic and apostolic Church, and we are under a moral as well as a spiritual obligation to ensure that the identity and witness of the Orthodox Church in the Holy Land and the Middle East rests on the unshakable foundation of our Orthodox unity.
We would like to take this opportunity to express our deep appreciation to His Excellency the President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, for his material support for the restoration of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, and for his unwavering support for the mission of the Patriarchate.
We wish you, Mr. Chairman, and this seminar, every success in your deliberations, and we look forward to hearing about the fruits of your deliberations.
Christ is risen!
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Christ is risen! Indeed He is risen!