Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew Accuses Russian Church of Playing Politics

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, file photo

The Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I accused the Russian Orthodox Church on Friday of playing politics and using the Orthodox flock to put pressure on the Greek Orthodox Church.

Speaking at the 4th Panhellenic Conference on Pilgrimage Tours in Arta, western Greece, Bartholomew referred to the ongoing row among the Orthodox world over the issue of the Ukranian Church’s Autocephaly (Independence) from the Patriarchate of Moscow.

The Ecumenical Patriarch said that pilgrimage tourism has been used as ”a tool of ecclesiastical policy in Orthodoxy.”

Bartholomew said that ”an Orthodox Autocephalous Church is using the piety and the sacred desire of its faithful flock as a means of exerting financial pressure on the Church of Greece and the Greek people because of the official recognition of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.”

The Ecumenical Patriarch referred to the recent decision of the Church of Greece to recognize the independence of the Ukranian Church.

The dispute began a few years ago, when the Church of Ukraine, then part of the Patriarchate of Moscow, asked for its independence.

The Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, which is responsible for these matters, granted the Church of Ukraine its Autocephaly, sparking fierce reactions in Moscow and the Russian Orthodox Church, which does not recognize the new status of the Church in Kyiv.