Archbishop blinks in Church crisis

The unprecedented feud between the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Church of Greece appears to be heading for a solution, following a decision by Archbishop Christodoulos to appease the demands of the Patriarchate. The archbishop is expected to call an emergency meeting of the Church of Greece’s highest decision-making body, the Hierarchy, by the end of next week, sources said. At this meeting, Christodoulos is expected to propose that the Greek Church’s leaders vote on a decision expressing respect for the Patriarchal Tome, which granted the Church of Greece its autocephalous status, and the Patriarchal Act of 1928 with which the Patriarchate granted the Greek Church temporary administrative powers over 36 bishoprics belonging to the Patriarchate. The crisis followed the death of two northern Greek bishops last summer and the resignation of a third. The Church of Greece chose to elect new bishops in a way that the Patriarchate said questioned its jurisdiction over the 36 bishoprics in the so-called «new territories» which became part of Greece after the Balkan Wars of 1913. Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomaios is said to agree with the impending decision and will call a meeting of the expanded Synod in Istanbul to end the suspension of communion imposed on Christodoulos on April 30. The Synod will also recognize the appointment of the three bishops elected by the Church of Greece. This outcome is said to be the result of active engagement by the Greek government, which has been mediating between Athens and Istanbul over the past few weeks. Sources said that by the end of June, Vartholomaios and Christodoulos will conduct a liturgy together at the Patriarchate in Istanbul, in the presence of Education and Religion Minister Marietta Giannakou, who led the mediation effort. Government officials accompanying Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on his visit to the United States expressed satisfaction with the outcome. They noted the solution had come from the Church itself and justified the government’s decision not to get involved in the substance of the crisis.

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