It is often asserted that Ecumenical Patriarch Meletios Metaxakis invented the idea that the Ecumenical Patriarchate has authority to extend its jurisdiction beyond its traditional boundaries into the so-called “diaspora.” This is the Patriarchate’s current interpretation of Canon 28 of the Council of Chalcedon, which Meletios used in 1921-22 in order to justify his establishment of the Greek Archdiocese. He has received much criticism for this supposed invention.
Yet in 1908, when Ecumenical Patriarch Joachim III (r. 1878-84, 1901-1912) issued a tomos transferring the Greek churches in America temporarily from his own jurisdiction to the jurisdiction of the Church of Greece, he wrote:
For, it is obvious that neither the Holy Church of Greece, having been granted by our Patriarchate the status of autocephality within strictly defined jurisdictional boundaries, nor any other Church or Patriarchate, could canonically extend its authority beyond the boundaries of its defined jurisdiction except our Apostolic and Patriarchal Ecumenical Throne; this both by virtue of the privilege accorded to it to ordain bishops in the barbarian lands which are beyond the defined limits of the ecclesiastical jurisdictions, and by virtue of its seniority to extend its ultimate protection to the said Churches in foreign territories.[*]
This is the same Patriarch Joachim who is supposed to have refused to send a Greek bishop to America because he recognized Russian authority there. The tomos was entitled “Concerning the Grant to the Most Holy Church of Greece of the privilege of canonical sovereign jurisdiction for the spiritual protection and supervision of all the Orthodox Greeks in the diaspora in Europe, America and other countries, excepting only the Orthodox Greek Church of Venice.”
Commentary: Posting this source should not be construed as agreement with its contents and/or canonical interpretations. This is simply meant to illumine the discussion on these two points:
- Whether Meletios Metaxakis invented this idea about the Ecumenical Patriarchate in 1921-22.
- Whether Joachim really believed that America belonged to the Russians and not to himself.
[*]”O Patriarchikos kai Synodikos Tomos,” Ekklesiastike Alletheia 3 (1908): 183. Referenced in FitzGerald, Thomas E. The Orthodox Church. Westport, Connecticut: Praeger, 1995, p. 134, note 13.
Also quoted in Trempelas, Panagiotis. The Autocephaly of the Metropolia in America. Brookline, Massachusetts: Holy Cross School of Theology Press, 1974, pp. 25-26.
20 Replies to “The Non-Invention of Meletios Metaxakis”
This inspires a further question: when and where (meaning the limits thereof) were the “ecclesiastical jurisdictions” for any but the ancient patriarchates established?
I think one might find such limits defined in the tomoi which established their autocephaly or autonomy.
As to the first question, Meletios definitely was not a true believer in it, for when he went on to become Pope of Alexandria, he proclaimed his jurisdiction to include “All of Africa” (in imitation of the Coptic Pope I believe). As the Patriarchate’s web site states:
He systematized the Ecclesiastical Courts, and established the jurisdiction of the Patriarchate on all of Africa, and instituted the title “All Africa” instead of “All Egypt”.
Since the Pedalion shows no knowledge of the EP’s present interpretation of canon 28, the question is, when did it start?
To answer Meletios involvement, we first might have to determine where he was, who he was with, and what he was doing in 1908. In that year he had been expelled from Palestine for “activity against the Holy Sepulchre” (?), along with another future Archbishop of Athens, Chrysostomos. Yet two years later he was elevated to metropolitan in Cyprus, and four years later candidate for the throne of Constantinople to succeed Ioakim. In between, his relation Eleftherios Venizelos had taken over Greece. This period, and not 1921-22, is the one to look to see if Meletios was the source of the novel interpretation of canon 28, or just an elaborator thereof.
As to Ioakim’s belief on his juridiction, we would find that out if we figure out why Meletios, in his official report to the Church of Greece on America, denies any knowledge of the Russian hierarchy in America. Since the Greek Consul general George Fisher was involved in the founding of the cathedral in San Francisco, the Greek Counsul snubbed the consecration of St. Raphael, the complaints of “Tsarist pressure,” etc…, we know that truth was not Meletius’ concern when he feigned ignorance of the Russian Archdiocese. What was?
I suspect “activity against the Holy Sepulchre” refers to some dispute involving the Brotherhood of the Holy Sepulchre. For information on the Brotherhood, see St. Raphael’s 1893 book on the subject, translated by Fr. Michel Najim and available here: http://www.frmichel.najim.net/brotherenglish.pdf
I agree with you that there is more digging to be done about Canon 28 and Meletios’ potential involvement. Also, I agree that it is silly to think Meletios was unaware of the Russian Archdiocese in America.
” In 1902, Fr Vladimir Alexandrov received a letter from the Ecumenical Patriarch Joachim III thanking the Seattle priest for his “zealous missionary work among the Greek people”
I’ve have seen this repeated elsewhere, but not the text of the actual letter. We can presume that the EP expresses his thoughts on the matter of jurisdiction in 1902 (i.e. before the 1908 Tome). It might also illumine what the EP was officially admitted that it knew of the RM, and his thoughts on that.
I really don’t doubt that the EP was aware of the Russian Mission in America. That Metaxakis claimed otherwise is sort of silly.
It’s not too surprising that a West Coast Russian priest like Alexandrov might have received such a letter from an Ecumenical Patriarch. The Greek presence in the Western U.S. in 1902 was quite small relative to the East Coast. It’s distinctly possible that the EP considered America to somehow be its own territory, but nonetheless appreciated the work of the Russian Mission. It’s also possible that the EP in 1902 considered America to be outside of anyone’s territory. If that were the case, the letter to Alexandrov could be somewhat similar to the goodwill that has been expressed between the EP and St. Vladimir’s Seminary.
Whatever the case, the EP certainly didn’t act like it thought America belonged exclusively to the Russian Church in 1902, given that it sent priests to America and established parishes from the 1890s onward.
Just came across something I have been looking for:
:”Report of the Commission appointed by the Government of Palestine to inquire into the Affairs of the Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem” by the Palestine Commission on the affairs of the Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem.
The report itself is interesting, as it goes into some detail the claims of the EP over the other Patriarchs, and their refutation of such claims. What is on point here is that they made much use of a volume “Official Ecclesiastical Documents on the Relations of the Oecumenical [sic] Patriarch with the Churches of Alexandria, Antioch, Jerusalem and Cyprus” by Archimandrite Kallinikos Delikane (Contantinople. 1904).
“It contains the official records of the cases in which a special jurisdiction has been exercised, or sought to be exercised” for the three centuries preceeding the Tomos of 1908 “expressed in the actual words of those who have purported to exercise it.” The author also wrote a memorandum (memorandum E) which is interesting here in that when it describes the jurisdiction and importance of Constantinople it maps it out in eastern and central Europe “and of a considerable part of Asia,” but nothing about “diaspora,” or territory outside of the local Churches. (it also contains a considerable amount of myth about the Brotherhood of the Sepulcher). If the interpretation of canon 28 predates Meletios, we should find some evidence here.
Isa, this is a very interesting document. I’ve downloaded it and am looking over it. Please let us know of any further material you find on the origins of the Metaxakian (!) interpretation of Canon 28. I’m still not convinced that Metaxakis himself was the progenitor of this interpretation, since it appeared in the 1908 Tomos, though if you can prove that he was involved in the 1908 Tomos, that would be rather convincing.
I have some bits and pieces, but haven’t had time to put it together. Meletios seems to have been under the radar but up in the upper echelon of the late Ottoman Church. He was, for instance, involved in 1907 with the solution of the Cyprus church situation, which is interesting because that occured largely because Cyprus fought Constantinople’s juridiction to resolve it.
If you don’t have it already, get “The Russian presence in Syria and Palestine, 1843-1914
church and politics in the Near East,” by Derek Hopwood, (1969). In many ways the 1908 Tomos I believe was really about the Near East rather than the “diaspora.” Meltios of course, being in Antioch and Jerusalem before becoming bishop in Cyprus would have been up on all the latest then.
I’ve also come across what purports to be an eyewitness to Greek court intrigues involving Queen Olga, a Russian.
Fortescue has something interesting to say in the old “Catholic Encyclopedia,” a source from the same year as the Tomos of 1908:
“The Great Church, that is, the patriarchate of Constantinople that takes precedence of the others. It covers Turkey in Europe (except where its jurisdiction is disputed by the Bulgarian Exarch) and Asia Minor. Under the Ecumenical Patriarch are seventy-four metropolitans and twenty other bishops. Outside this territory the Patriarch of Constantinople has no jurisdiction. He still has the position of civil head of the Roman Nation throughout the Turkish Empire, and he still intermittently tries to interpret this as including some sort of ecclesiastical jurisdiction — he is doing so at this moment in Cyprus — but in modern times especially each attempt is at once met by the most pronounced opposition on the part of the other patriarchs and national Churches, who answer that they acknowledge no head by Christ, no external authority but the seven Ecumenical Synods….Cyprus, the old autocephalous Church, with an archbishop [whose succession (1908), after eight years, rends the whole Orthodox world] and three suffragans.”
Fortescue, A. (1909). Eastern Churches. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Retrieved September 9, 2009 from New Advent: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/05230a.htm
The last point is interesting, because I’ve found things that place Meletios in Constantinople in 1907 in connection with the Cyprus question (he was elected a Metropolitan in Cyprus in 1910 and was evidently planning becoming Archbishop there when he was propelled by politics in Athens to the throne there). There are things I’ve seen placing him in Constantinople in 1906, but these accounts are heavily encrusted with the question of his Masonic ties.
Fortescue is extremely biased, but well informed. He also gives a summary in a book (1911) on the Patriarchs of Constantinople:
“The Turkish conquest of Constantinople (1453), strangely enough, added still more to the power of its patriarchs. True to their unchanging attitude the Mohammedans accepted each religious communion as
a civil body. The Rayahs were grouped according to their Churches. The greatest of these bodies was, and is, the Orthodox Church, with the name Roman nation
(rum millet), strange survival of the dead empire. And the recognized civil head of this Roman nation is the oecumenical patriarch. So he now has civil jurisdiction over all orthodox Rayahs in the Turkisk empire, over
the other patriarchs and their subjects and over the autocephalous Cypriotes as well as over the faithful of his own patriarchate. No orthodox Christian can approach the Porte except through his court at the Phanar. And the Phanar continually tries to use this civil jurisdiction for ecclesiastical purposes.
In 1833 the first Greek parliament at Nauplion
declared the Greek Church independent ; Anthimos IV. of Constantinople first refused to acknowledge it at all and then in 1850 published his famous Tomos, allowing
some measure of self-government. The Greek Church refused to take any notice of the Tomos, and eventually Anthimos had to give way altogether. In 1866 the cession of the Ionian Isles, and in 1881 the addition of
Thessaly and part of Epirus to the kingdom of Greece, enlarged the territory of the Greek Church and further reduced the patriarchate. In 1870 the Bulgars founded an independent national Church. This is by far the worst trouble of all. They have set up an Exarch
in Constantinople and he claims jurisdiction over all Bulgars, wherever they may live. The Bulgarian Church is recognized by Russia, excommunicate and most vehe mently denounced by the patriarch. The inevitable
moment in which the Phanar will have to give way and welcome this sister too has not yet come. The Serbs set up their Church in 1879, the Vlachs in 1885 both establishments led to disputes that still distress the Orthodox Church. The Austrian occupation of lands
inhabited by orthodox Christians has led to the estab lishment of independent Churches at Carlovitz in 1765, at Hermannstadt (Nagy-Szeben) in 1864, at Czernovitz in 1873 and of a practically independent one in Herce-
govina and Bosnia since 1880. The diminishing power of the oecumenical patriarch is further shown by the resistance, always more and more uncompromising,
shown when he tries to interfere in the affairs of the other patriarchates and autocephalous Churches. In 1866 Sophronios III. of Constantinople wanted to judge a case at the monastery of Mount Sinai. Immediately
the Patriarch of Jerusalem summoned a synod and indignantly refused to acknowledge his anti-canonical
interference and his foreign and unknown authority.
The Church of Greece since its establishment has had many opportunities of resisting the patriarch’s foreign authority. She has not failed to use each of them.
The see of Antioch still bears the excommunication proclaimed against her late Patriarch Meletios (fFeb. 8, 1906) rather than allow the Phanar to interfere in her affairs. The patriarch of Alexandria (Photios) has sent
away the legate whom the Phanar wished to keep at his court. The Church of Cyprus, now for nearly nine years in the throes of a quarrel that disturbs and scandalizes the whole orthodox world, has appealed to every sort of person including the British Colonial
Office to come and help her out of her trouble. From only one will she hear of no interference. Every time the Phanar volunteers a little well-meant advice it is
told sharply that it has no authority in Cyprus ; the Council of Ephesus in 431 settled all that, and, in short, will his All-Holiness of Constantinople mind his own
The diminished authority of the oecumenical throne now covers Turkey in Europe (that is, Thrace, Macedonia and part of Epirus) and Asia Minor only. And in Macedonia its rights are denied by the Bulgars ; and both Serbs and Vlachs are on the point of setting up independent Churches here too.
And lastly, of the reigning patriarch, Joakim III., there is nothing to say but what is very good. He began his second reign by sending an Encyclical to the other Orthodox Churches in which he proposed certain very excellent reforms (for instance that of their Calendar), wished to arrange a better understanding between the sixteen independent bodies that make up their communion and expressed his pious hope for the re-union of Christendom. Pity that their never-ending jealousies made those of these Churches that answered at all do so in the most unfriendly way. But of Joakim himself .one hears everything that is edifying. He is evidently really concerned about the scandals that disgrace the Orthodox name the affairs of Bulgaria, Antioch, Cyprus
and so on and he has shown himself in every way a wise, temperate and godly bishop. So one may end this note by expressing a very sincere hope that he may be allowed to go on ruling the Great Church of Christ for many
years still before the inevitable deposition comes.”
THE PATRIARCHS OF CONSTANTINOPLE BY CLAUDE DELAY AL COBHAM, C.M.G., pp. 34-40
I don’t see a knowledge of the 1908 Tomos in the work, although I seem to recall Fortescue mentions it in passing elsewhere. It seems not to have made much of an impression.
From the same year, the Encyclopedia Britannica has the following interesting paragraph under “Orthodox Eastern Church”
“In America the Russian archbishop, who resides in New York, has (on behalf of the Holy Synod) the oversight of some 152 churches and chapels in the United States, Alaska and Canada. He is assisted by two bishops, one for Alaska residing at Sitka, one for Orthodox Syrians residing in Brooklyn. There are 75 priests and 46,000 registered parishioners. The English language is increasingly used in the services. The increase of Orthodox communities has been very marked since 1888 owing to the immigration of Austrian Slavonians. Those of Greek nationality have churches in New Orleans, Chicago, New York, Boston, Lowell (Massachusetts) and other places. If, as seemed likely in 1910, in addition to the Russian and Syrian bishops, Greek and Servian ones were appointed, an independent synod could be formed, and the bishops could elect their own metropolitan. ”
“A third example can be found in the letter from Patriarch Joachim III of
Constantinople in 1879 recognizing the autocephaly of the Church of Serbia, which
affirmed establishment of autocephalous churches “not only in conformity with the
historical importance of the cities and countries in Christianity, but also according to
political conditions of the life of their people and nation.” The letter, specifically
citing canon 28 of Chalcedon and other precedents, noted that “[t]he ecclesiastical
rights, especially those of parishes, usually follow the political subdivision of the
country and the government concerned.” The letter then proclaimed the
independence of the Church of Serbia on the basis of (1) the new political
independence of Serbia itself, and (2) the formal written requests of Serbian Prince
I have not idea, but it will not post the other half of the post, and I’m on a different computer that doesn’t have the info on it. I’ll try to update with the rest later.
Obrenovis and Archbishop Michael of Belgrade to Constantinople for
autocephaly “conforming with the political independence of the state [of Serbia].”126
126 Cited in Bogolepov 17-18.
Bogolepov, Alexander. “Conditions of Autocephaly (I).” St. Vladimir’s Theological
Quarterly 5:3 (1961): 11-37.
AUTOCEPHALY AS A FUNCTION OF INSTITUTIONAL
STABILITY AND ORGANIZATIONAL CHANGE IN THE
EASTERN ORTHODOX CHURCH
Charles Wegener Sanderson, Doctor of Philosophy, 2005, p. 72
The same work (pp. 148-9) has the response of the CoG to OCA autocephaly, based on EP Joachim III:
“The response provided by the Church of Greece, in the person of Archbishop
Ieronymos, president of the Greek Holy Synod, was the most extensive and closely
argued. The archbishop argued that “it is the undoubted jurisdictional rights over a
territory that constitute the indispensable condition for the right to appoint a bishop,
not the claiming of jurisdictional rights as a result of having appointed a bishop there.
The appointment and establishment of a bishop in a particular place cannot be used as
a means of jurisdictionally annexing that place.” Quoting a statement by Ecumenical
Patriarch Joachim III (presumably circa 1908), the archbishop affirmed: “It is obvious
that neither the holy Church of Greece, which has been granted by our Patriarchate
the status of being autocephalous but with strictly defined jurisdictional boundaries,
nor any other Church or Patriarchate could canonically extend their authority beyond
the boundaries of their jurisdictions, apart from our Apostolic [sic] and Patriarchal
Throne; this, both by virtue of the privilege accorded to it to ordain bishops within the
barbaric nations which are even beyond defined ecclesiastical jurisdictions, and by
virtue of having the right deriving from its seniority to extend supreme protection to
the said Churches in foreign territories.” In sum, the archbishop continued, “[o]nly
the Ecumenical Throne can justifiably extend its authority beyond its own territorial
jurisdiction,” and the Patriarch of Moscow, like any other patriarch save the Patriarch
of Constantinople, had jurisdiction only over his own realm, defined largely by the
political boundaries of the state within which his church was located. Connecting the
particular rights of the Ecumenical Patriarchate with the requirement for conciliar
validation, the archbishop affirmed “that whether as a result of decisions of
Ecumenical or local Synods or as a result of other procedures, the promotion of a
church to the status of being autocephalous and independent has been all along a
question for the whole Church to decide.” Therefore, everything the Patriarchate of
Moscow did vis-à-vis the diaspora populations “without the consent of the Senior
Throne – such as the naming by the Patriarchate of Moscow of the Churches of
Poland, Czechoslovakia, and now of America, as autocephalous – is dangerously
inordinate and anti-canonical, and decisions of this kind are void and
condemnable.”275 This latter statement, indicative of the jurisdictional competition
between Constantinople and Moscow as the two dominant Orthodox sees, illustrates
clearly that the objections to the autocephaly clearly involved not simply canonical
(institutional) objections but political ones as well.”
I’d forgotten about this reference to EP Joachim III:
“For example, when in 1912 the Greek Orthodox in America asked His Holiness the Patriarch of Constantinople Joachim III to send a Greek bishop, the Patriarch did not send a bishop himself, nor did he refer the request to the Church of Greece, but recommended that it be referred to Archbishop Platon of the Aleutian Islands and North America so that the question could be settled by the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church…”
“A Letter To The Ecumenical Patriarch Concerning The Situation Of The Diaspora” by HH Patriarch Alexei II of blessed memory.
I’ve heard this story before, but I’d love to see a contemporary source for it.
So would I, but I am also interested in where Pat. Alexei heard of it. Is there something in the Russian archives?
Looking through some things to refresh my memory and add to my knowledge on the jurisdictions of the Orthodox Churches c. 1794-c. 1922, I came across this:
Verfassung und gegenwärtiger Bestand sämmtlicher Kirchen des Orients Eine canonistisch-statistische Abhandlung (Constitution and Current Stock of all the Churches of the Orient. A canonist–statistical treatment) by Isodore Silbernagl
The first edition came in 1865:beware! It’s in Fraktur.
The second edition with revisions came out after the death of the author, in 1904.
The author goes through all the jurisdictions that existed in his day. I reproduce what he says under the Ecumenical Patriarchate:
6. Jurisdiction of the Patriarch.
The spiritual power of jurisdiction of the Patriarch of Constantinople extends over the whole European Turkey, a part of Bulgaria, Rumelia and Asia Minor and the islands of the Aegean Sea, with Crete.
[the 1865 version reads: “The spiritual power of jurisdiction of the Patriarch of Constantinople extends over the whole European Turkey, in more certain respects, at least, even with inclusion of the Danube Principalities [i.e. Romania], as well as over the Diocese of Asia, as far as these are not subject to the Patriarch of Antioch and Jerusalem. The archbishoprick of Ohrid and Pec claimed earlier times, although an independent position, but however were united with the Patriarchate of Constantinoplein in modern times by a Turkish Hatti-serif of the government: however, found exempt even now, are the Archbishop of Cyprus as autokephalos [in Greek in the original] and the Vladika of Montenegro.” I wil put in the more important differences between the editions]
As spiritual leader to the Patriarch is due the highest ecclesiastical legislative, governmental and administrative law. It is to him to interpret the various special or universel ecclesiastical rules and to him to judge all the controversies going to the dioceses, as generally all important religious matters. As for the individual spiritual powers of the patriarch, he can choose according to the following Berat issued by the Turkish Government in particular:
“The Patriarch is the manager of all the churches and monasteries of the Greek–Orthodox Confession, as well as the control of their economic circumstances.”
“He has to confirm the bishop chosen by the Synod of the and the deciding vote in caseof a tie. [1865: He can at his pleasure appointe and dismiss all Metropolitans and Bishops] At his request, the Port shall adopt the requisite advisement for the newly appointed prelates.”
“He has the right to expel all Metropolitans and Bishops from their diocese, with the exception of the four metropolitans, which are named to use the patriarchal seal, and so those who are, with the Patriarch, in possession of the Synodal Seal. Yea, even the Patriarch of Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem not been allowed to come, without his consent and that of the Synod, to Constantinople.”
“The patriarch and his vicars have unlimited jurisdiction in marriage and wills.”
“The Patriarch is entitled to the criminal code about the whole clergy, according to the laws of the church.”
“If complaints are collected by the Turkish administrative or the various competant authorities about a bishop, it may be decided only with the aid of the Patriarch of the Porte. Similarly, the arrest of a prelate should be made only with the consent of the Patriarch and with the assistance of his officials.”
“All the adherents of the Greek Orthodox Church are bond to the strictest obedience to the patriarchal and it is therefore of the same law of correction against the recalcitrant. He can excommunicate them freely, to deny them church burial etc.”
” Furthermore, the Patriarch enjoys the privilege exclusively to consecrate the sacred chrism, and the right of Strauropegions in every diocese. But as the patriarch of Constantinople is also the Head of the Greek nation, and so certain secular powers come to him, and in this respect extends his jurisdiction even over the territory the remaining patriarchs, because he is over all the Greek schismatic [sic] subjects of the Porte. Only [1865: in the Danube Principalities and in Montenegro, which have a Christian administration seperate from the Turkic government [N.B. the Danube Principalities, i.e. Romania, were still technically part of the Empire, or as the Vizier was saying at the time “integral territory,” and Montenegro’s independence had not yet been recognized internationally besides Russia] as well as ] in Egypt in Egypt, where the Viceroy has made himself independent of the Port may it be obvious, that the [Ecumenical] Patriarch has no secular authority. To this belongs primarily with respect to some policing powers of the patriarch for lesser offenses, theft, etc. For this purpose the patriarch’s own Court of Justice (kriterion), which is composed of seven Officials (klerikoi) and has under him or his presidencies (Protosynellos) two public weekly court sessions held, namely on Wednesday and Friday, . The Patriarch has therefore his own kavasses (military police) and a private prison. He can have each of his faithful, if he deserves, to be condemned to the galleys, without this, only by specially obtaining the required permission from the Porte. Similarly, can all civil disputes, not only between the Greeks themselves, but also between Armenians and Greeks and even between Greeks and Turks be used with the consent of the parties before the Court of the Patriarchs, and this decided verdict is also recognized by the Porte as valid. However, the recourse to the Turkish Courts remains free to the parties. The laws by which the spiritual court of the Patriarchs proceed, are precisely the Byzantine, especially in use are the Hexabiblos of Harmenopolos and the Pedalion (ie pedalion pattern book). Finally, we note that the patriarch can exercise all these spiritual and temporal rights only in communion with the Synod. Therefore, the orders of the Patriarch must be issued under the Synodal seal [1865: after the enactment of the Piscopos-Calent (Bureau of Bishops)], and the Port is bound to consider only those perfomances submited under the synodal seal.”
He is aware of the Orthodox in North America:”Also into America has the Russian Orthodox Church extended itself, and the Bishop of the Aleutians and of North America has his see in San Francisco in California.”
What he is not aware of, is some sort of super jurisdiction of the EP over barbarian lands, neither in 1865 (just before the Alaskan Cession) nor 1904 (just before the claims of 1908). I have come across things in Jerusalem and Cyprus, which, like the 1908 Tomos, promote Greek control, and they have Meletios finger prints all over them (as the British authorities found).
From another post
comes the background of the 1908 Tomos:
“THE GREEK COMMUNITIES OF THE DISPERSION
With the Jews and the modern Italians, no people has ever migrated as far as the Greek people. From time immemorial, the allure of the sea, the taste for commerce and love of adventure had pushed the Greeks to emigrate, to scatter prosperous colonies throughout the shores of the Mediterranean lake, which gradually supplanted the Phoenician and Carthaginian competitors and created for long one of the most brilliant civilizations. The cities in the interior, Asia Minor, Syria, Egypt, to Persia and Arabia, they were also inhabited by Greeks and Hellenized very quickly.
The same phenomenon of immigration is reproduced before our eyes. Each year, especially before the age of military service, young Greeks by the thousands abandon the heaven so laughing and the soil so thin of the fatherland, to go seek his fortune elsewhere. The human tide is going today in preference to the United States. The year 1902 saw from 11, 490 Greeks to the port of New York. The years 1903, slightly more than 13,700. For the general census of Hellenic subjects worldwide, which the government of Athens is in the process of conducting at this moment, if I am well informed, sends in America a egistration sheet of 130,000. No doubt this figure is well below the number of people to register.
The United States is not the only ones containing Greek colonies. Not mentioning the Greeks living on Ottoman territory, one meets everywhere, mainly in large industrial and commercial centers, even some of their colonies, such as Venice, which already has several centuries of existence. However, if, from the civil point of view, the emigrants very easily adopt their new country-without abandoning the rest, not any more than the Jews, of their own race-under the religious-relationship it is not the same. Orthodox in religion, they do not want at any price, with very few exceptions, to go to the Catholic and Protestant churches of the countries that deign to receive them. They therefore have churches and chapels for them for the celebration of their offices and their liturgy, they possess the Greek priests for them as if they were still living in the Hellenic Kindgom or the Ottoman Empire.”
The last sentence is key.
“Who governs these priests, these churches and the faithful, from the canonical point of view? A serious issue, which has been studied for a long time, no one has come to be any solution. There is, in effect, outside the Hellenic kingdom of the church, the four old patriarchs and the church of Cyprus, no constituted Greek Orthodox hierarchy.”
Nor any canonical theory to serve as a basis for such a hierarchy. The grouping of the CoG, the Four Patriarchs and Cyprus, i.e. the Churches in the Ottoman Empire, is key in what Churces were excepted:
“The Russians definitely have in North America the Diocese of the Aleutian Islands, whose primate lives in San Francisco and is also assisted by two Auxiliary Bishops: they possess even a bishop in Japan and are going to establish another in Rome for the West[ern Europe], but while being brothers in religion, while having the same liturgical rite, the Greeks never opt to attend the Russian offices and especially to be dependent on a Muscovite bishop.”
The problem with that phyletism is that the EP et alia had anathematized it in 1872, and so would seem to indicate that the “canonical basis of the 1908 Tomos” wasn’t even thought of in 1872. The creation of the Bulgarian Exarchate welded the Omogeneia of the Phanariots:
“With the Russians, we must further except the Church of Cyprus, which does not count any more, those of Jerusalem and Alexandria, which hardly count, at least for the topic at hand, that of Antioch, who already has an Arab bishop, Raphael, Auxiliary of the Russian bishop of San Francisco. All these churches once set aside, there remains at presence the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople and the Holy Synod of Athens.”
Antioch of course was eliminated because it dared to elect a local, and non-Greek, hiearch. Such did not sit well with the Omogeneia, and other Churches mentioned in this paragraph treated Antioch as if if was schismatic. Hence it was not involved in crisis in the Church of Cyprus, which I will return to.
“Between these two churches that struggle is incurred, on the subject of jurisdiction exercised over the Greeks of the diaspora or dispersion. Athens wants everything, Constantinople, although very disposed to concessions, desiring, however, to keep something. Who will win?”
Of course, if the interpretation of canon 28 was established at the time, what basis would Athens have to argue?
“On October 30/November 12, 1907, was read before the Holy Synod of Constantinople a report presented on this matter by the Metropolitan of Nicomedia, Pelagonia and Grevena. He concludes, based on the holy canons-which one does not quote-that all churches and Greek communities abroad, not included in the constituency of an Orthodox autocephalous Church are dependent on the Ecumenical Patriarchate. For the success of this project, the Comission has been of the opinion that one should write to the sister autocephalous Churches to ask the Ecumenical Patriarchate for formal consent for the appointment of the ecclesiastical [authorites], charged with their annexes abroad. In this case, the Ecumenical patriacat would have no right to refuse, it would, in short, be a mere formality, but that still imposes the recognition of the patriarchal jurisdiction over all Greek communities of the dispersion [i.e. Diaspora].”
It is interesting that, like the Tomos of 1908 (whose text I look forward to see in toto), this report refered to the canons without citing them.
“His All-Holiness Patriarch Joachim III has not been of this opinion. He proposes that, in Europe at least, things remain in the [present] state, communities continue to depend throughout on their own churches. Regarding the Greek communities in America, they would come directly under the Holy Synod of Athens. After a discussion engaged on this idea, it was decided that the Commission report and the opinion of the patriarch would be reproduced and distributed to members of the Holy Synod, which should study the question in their particular.”
It seems that “their own Churches” is refering to the Greek Churches, as it (and from what I understand, the 1908 Tomos) talks only of Greek Orthodox and no other ethnicity, although the alleged letter of the EP Joachim III to Fr. Vladimir Alexandrov and the incident about the request for a Greek bishop mentioned by Patriarch Alexei might be implicated in this. Does the EP’s opinion here comport with the idea that he “owned” the Diaspora?
“The next day after the reading of the minutes, the patriarch clarified his ideas and requested that the Venetian colony come under the Ecumenical Patriarchate, as it still intends to establish there a high school of theology for young people who have completed their studies at the seminary of Halki. [That is how] things are for the moment. ”
And it seems things did not change much with the issuance of the 1908 Tomos, until Meletios Metaxakis, who is mentioned elsewher in the same volume (as “Métaxakès”): he was in the highest level of the Ottoman Church, with Pope Photios of Alexandria himself, involved in determining the Cyprus question, the reason why Cyprus “didn’t count anymore.”
Isa, this is very interesting material. Thanks for posting it.
I just got my hands on something I’ve been looking for (and it just happened to pop up as I was looking for something else, of course), Meletios’ Αι αξιώσεις των αραβοφώνων ορθοδόξων της Παλαιστίνης “The Requirements of the Arabophone [interestingly, not “Arab,” in particular in view that Meletios spoke Arabic) Orrthodox of Palestine,” of 1909.
which he also published it in French as ” Les Exigences des Orthodoxes Arabophones en Palestine”
That he put this out from Constantinople a year after the 1908 Tomos, and declared the Patriarch of Jerusalem deposed gives an idea of what type of character Meletios had become.
On EP Joachim III, I’ve just come across an article “Les “Projets” de Joachim III” “The “projects” of Joachim III” in Revue de l’Orient chrétien, Volume 7,Numéro 1 (1902) which starts “What is Joachim III going to do?”
much of which revolves around the policies of the Phanar to Russia in the East, in particular Antioch and Jerusalem. From the same site as the “Requirements” there a work by Meletios in 1913 “The Holy Mountain and Russian Policy in the East”
The French edition of Meletios’ “Requirements,” coming so close on the French manifesto on the rights of the Arab Christians (and all Arabs), “La Reveil de la Nation Arabe” (1905) gives an idea that Meletios was this early involved in the Greek response to Russia.
To this I might add a paragraph from the Greek Wikipedia on Meletios (which, unfortunately, isn’t well documented, but it gives an idea of what to be looking for-many of the details I’ve seen substantiated elsewhere):
“”Patriarch Meletios was born on September 21, 1871 in the village Parsas in Lassithi Crete with the secular name of Emmanuel Metaxakis .
He studied at the Seminary of the Holy Sepulchre from 1889 to 1891. In 1891 the Abbot of the Monastery of Bethlehem and Archbishop of Tabor Spyridon ordained him deacon and named Meletios. He continued his studies at the Theological School of the Holy Cross in Jerusalem when the school reopened in 1893. He excelled and graduated in 1900.
In 1903 he was appointed chief secretary of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem and cared for the reorganization of the patriarchal printing and publication of the magazine “New Zion” in 1904. He founded new schools and reorganized the existing and succeeding diplomas awarded to graduates of the Theological School in Jerusalem even of ordained priests. Deeming the “Dukhovnaya Missia” (Spiritual Mission), a Russian organization, as exerting anti-Greek propaganda, he founded the Trade School of Jaffa and increased the issuance of textbooks. He even took care to strengthen the finances of the Patriarchate. In 1907 participated as a representative of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem at a meeting with the representative of the Ecumenical Throne and later Ecumenical Patriarch, Metropolitan Basileios of Anchialos and the Patriarch Photios of Alexandria to address the issue of the primate of Cyprus. The law that ultimately passed was based on a report prepared by Metaxakis and published in the gazette of the Cypriot government. At that meeting and various conversations of that time Patriarch Photios decided to implement two organs of the Patriarchate of Alexandria , the journal “Lighthouse Church” and “Pantainos.
In 1910 he was elected Bishop of Kiti Cyprus. Drafted the Charter of the Church of Cyprus and founded the magazine “Church Herald, which continued to be issued later in Athens and New York . He recommended the Cyprus Seminary in October 1910 and the Commercial High School of Larnaca . 1912-3 traveled to Athens where he worked with Ion Dragoumi Committee and the Greek Foreign Ministry for a solution to the issues that had arisen after the areas of activity of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Greece, Serbia and Bulgaria.”
Since EP Ioachim III had founded the Phanar’s official organ, reorganized finances etc. in his first term, it seems that Meletios had a mentor. The question remains, how soon and how close they met in person.
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