OPINION

Causes of dissent

Any rational person weighs the consequences of entering into a conflict: what he has to gain or to lose; what his chances are of winning or losing. There seems to be no other way of approaching the recent quarrel between Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomaios and Greek Church leader Archbishop Christodoulos. First, the row is not the result of any religious dispute. It rather concerns the administrative rights of the two churches. And, certainly, this by no means justifies the zeal and intransigence with which each side has sought to impose its will. The above conclusion derives from a fundamental fact: The administrative rights of the ecumenical patriarch and of the Autocephalous Church of Greece over the so-called «new territories» have been in force since the 1928 Patriarchal Act. Over 10 patriarchs and Greek archbishops have functioned under these provisions for more than seven decades – and there was never any serious rift or threat of schism between the two churches. Furthermore, no changes have been made to the charter since its establishment. Even when there were ambiguities or differences, they were finally overcome in a spirit of understanding and mutual trust. The interest of Orthodoxy has always surpassed every other concern. Indeed, what interest dictates the recent intransigence and dissent? Have the two sides pondered the consequences of a schism? Have they realized that the melee fuels the universal ambitions of the Moscow-based Patriarchate? Have they realized that the connection between Orthodox Christianity and Hellenism will be severely impaired? What right do they have to put the highest interests of Orthodoxy and Hellenism at risk – interests that they have been called upon to serve, safeguard and bequeath to future generations?