The Patriarchate of Constantinople has called a meeting of all 120 of its bishops for the beginning of September, after its Patriarch Bartholomew has consulted with Patriarch Kyrill of Moscow at the end of August. All of its bishops, including those elderly, ill, retired and titular (about half of them), are being summoned. It is clear that this is an important meeting, being called with the full backing of the US Secretary of State and his ambassador in Turkey.
After the disaster of the inter-Orthodox meeting which it organized in Crete two years ago, boycotted by representatives of 80% of the Orthodox world and rejected by many who did attend it, it is time for the Phanar to reconsider its policy of ecclesiastical imperialism and to start to listen. It is, however, doubtful that it will have the humility to accept its position in the real world as a tiny ethnic grouping, which has discredited itself with the USA that finances it, the Vatican that supports it and, above all, with Orthodox who are faithful to the Tradition. It would be better if the Archbishop of Athens simply assumed the title of Patriarch of Constantinople, so that the reality that this Patriarchate is in fact just an anachronistic, small Local Church takes hold. Then it will stop meddling in the affairs of other Local Churches.
There are those who fear that such realism is quite beyond the grasp of the present Phanariot episcopate, who are blinded by theory and fantasy, by what their forbears represented a millennium ago. Some repeat the dark rumour that the meeting in September will result in the Phanar setting up an uncanonical jurisdiction in the US-run Ukraine. This would lead to Constantinople’s excommunication from the Orthodox Church, which has condemned any such moves. Others believe that the meeting will simply appoint a new Archbishop for the corrupt and bankrupt Greek Archdiocese in the USA and Canada, which has become very turbulent because of its general apostasy from Orthodoxy and so protestantization by the dominant local culture in North America.
Whatever the case, Orthodox must pray that the episcopate of the Patriarchate of Constantinople will this time at last listen to the Holy Spirit. This is surely make or break time for it and its faltering octogenarian Patriarch.