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Joseph Biden is not the leader of the whole world and patriarch Bartholomew is not the head of all Orthodox Christians

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Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople is currently on a visit to the USA. He and President Biden met as old acquaintances. They have developed certain plans for work with the Orthodox Christians around the world. What are these plans? This was not revealed after the meeting, writes Louis Auge.

“We are grateful to the government of the United States for its continued support for the Ecumenical See, ideas and principles we seek to advocate,” the Patriarch said to Biden.

They discussed the climate and the fight with COVID-19 and announced “plans for work with the Orthodox community around the world on issues of common concern”. What common plans can a Local Orthodox Church with 5 million parishioners possibly have with the government of the USA?

This is what the head of church diplomacy in the Russian Orthodox Church, Metropolitan Hilarion, told the Russian RIA news agency:

“We should not be deceived. Neither is the president of the USA the leader of the whole world, nor is the Patriarch of Constantinople the head of all the Orthodox Christians. Nobody has authorized either the former or the latter to work with the Orthodox community ‘around the world’. From the example of Ukraine we see what such interaction leads to - a schism of Orthodoxy and the oppression of believers,” the Metropolitan said.

He told how leaders of the United States showed interest in forming “the Orthodox Church of Ukraine” (OCU), which has been acknowledged by only four out of fifteen of the Local Orthodox Churches. The first one to congratulate the newly elected leader of this structure was precisely a representative of the Department of State.

In 2018, Patriarch Bartholomew decided to create in Ukraine a new church under his leadership. The old Church is independent, but it was and is close to the Moscow Patriarchate. There are over 12 thousand parishes in it, 250 monasteries and dozens of millions of parishioners. For Constantinople, they do not exist now. Bartholomew’s new church is taking away their church buildings in something like hostile raids. There has appeared a new breed of specialist in mergers and acquisitions in this sphere. However, the “old” Church only grows. Instead of one church being taken away, two new ones are built. People do not turn away from their Church despite the pressure applied by the state. It is amazing.

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However, Metropolitan Hilarion fears that after the visit of Patriarch Bartholomew to the USA the persecutions against the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church will be stepped up.

Hopefully, those “common plans” discussed by the president of the USA and Patriarch Bartholomew are not connected with this in any way. Incidentally, Patriarch Bartholomew astonished many during his visit by calling Joseph Biden “our president”. But the Russian metropolitan, for instance, is not confused by it. “As is known, most of the flock of the Patriarchate of Constantinople live not in Turkey but precisely in the USA. The Greek diaspora in that country is the principal sponsor of the Patriarchate of Constantinople and lobbies its interests. Therefore, I do not see anything surprising in this expression coming from Patriarch Bartholomew, for whom the orientation at the USA is strategic and is not concealed,” Metropolitan Hilarion explained.

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