Today, 12 May 2011, a press conference was held in “Consilium” room of the Patriarchal Palace concerning the communiqué of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem of 9 May 2011, announcing the breaking up of the communion with the Romanian Patriarchate. The conference was held by His Grace Ciprian Campineanul, Assistant Bishop to the Patriarch and Secretary of the Holy Synod.
A delegation made up of three hierarchs of the Romanian Orthodox Church will meet the representatives of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem for a bilateral dialogue in order to find a solution concerning the existence of the Romanian Settlement of Jericho, informs “Lumina” newspaper. The three hierarchs will be appointed next week, on 19 and 20 May, within the working session of the Holy Synod of the Romanian Orthodox Church, when the point of view of the Romanian Patriarchate is formulated concerning the attitude of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem, also presented in the communiqué of 9 May, which announced the breaking up of the communion and defrocking of Archimandrite Ieronim Creţu, superior of the Romanian Settlements of Jerusalem, Jordan and Jericho.
His Grace Ciprian Câmpineanul, Assistant Bishop to the Patriarch, made this announcement today, within the press conference held at the Patriarchal Palace. His Grace expressed his regret for such a unilateral decision by the Patriarchate of Jerusalem, in spite of the fact that during the preliminary discussions His Grace had at Jerusalem, on 15 April, with His Beatitude Teofil III, they agreed that an official delegation of the Holy Synod of the Romanian Orthodox Church should travel to Jerusalem for a dialogue designed to reach an amiable agreement concerning the existence of the Romanian Settlement of Jericho. His Grace declared, in this regard: “I would like to express once again our regret and concern for the fact that the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem reached such a decision although on 15 April 2011, before the Palm Sunday, I paid a visit to Jerusalem, delegated by His Beatitude Patriarch Daniel, where I met His Beatitude Teofil III of Jerusalem together with four other members of the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem and I was surprised to learn that 10 days after sending the letter of His Beatitude Patriarch Daniel they had not received it yet, so that I had to hand His Beatitude Teofil III a photocopy of the answer of our Patriarch to his letter. My mission was to have preliminary discussions on the edge of the subject that makes the existence of the Romanian Settlement of Jericho in order to see how we could solve this issue in an amiable way, in the spirit of the “brotherly dialogue”, Trinitas TV informs us.
The aspects of the situation resulted between the two sister Churches were also touched.
“Due to pastoral-missionary reasons one can make derogation from the canons, because the canons are not dogmas, but pastoral rules. Their role is to show us how to organise the religious life so as not to have conflicts among Churches, but if such conflict still appear, they may be overcome. The most serious thing appears when a deviation from the faith comes up. This could be the only serious reason for breaking up the Eucharistic or liturgical communion with a hierarch of a Church. Our reaction was that of surprise, but we also express our hope that a brotherly understanding could be reached so that we may overcome this spiritual crisis between Churches”, also showed His Grace Ciprian Campineanul.
The Secretary of the Holy Synod has also given some explanation about the delegate of the Romanian Patriarchate at the Holy Places, Rev. Archimandrite Ieronim Cretu.
“The defrocking of Rev. Ieronim seems unjust, rushed and groundless from a canonical point of view because Rev. Ieronim Cretu is not a clergy of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem, and moreover he was not called, summoned, so that he had no possibility to defend himself because it was him who dealt with the construction of the settlement. The breaking up of the communion with the Patriarch of Romania, namely his removal from the diptychs is also an extreme measure that can be taken only in extreme cases, when a Patriarch of a Church falls into a heresy, in very serious situations. We know from history that the administrative issues could always be solved in an amiable way. But one thing is sure. The settlement is and will remain the property of the Romanian Patriarchate assigned to the pilgrims. We hope that the Patriarchate of Jerusalem will understand the need of its existence for pilgrims for pastoral-missionary reasons and recognise the fact that it does not cause them any damage, but on the contrary”, explained His Grace.
On this occasion a short history of the construction works made at the Romanian Settlement of Jericho was done.
“The settlement of Jericho was built with much human and financial sacrifice of the faithful, of various sponsors and even of the Romanian state authorities. Here is a centre of Bible studies too which bears the name of Saint John James the Hosevite. So, the settlement has a purely missionary pastoral character which proves in this way the care of our Church for pilgrims, not only for the Romanians who left and settled in Diaspora, but also for the Romanians who spend one week or two in the Holy Land. We do not doubt the right of jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem over Israel, Palestine and Jordan, but we raised this settlement only for the Romanian pilgrims, not for the native Orthodox faithful who are under the direct care of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem, in the territory of the Holy Land, under Palestinian authority, and in Jordan. The Romanian Orthodox Church has many more very big settlements subordinated directly to the Patriarchate of Moscow, but always recognising the spiritual authority of Jerusalem by remembering Patriarch Teofil III at the holy services”, also said the Secretary of the Holy Synod of the Romanian Orthodox Church.
The issue of the attitude of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem towards the Romanian Settlement of Jericho, as well as its relations with the Romanian Patriarchate will be discussed in the working session of the Holy Synod of the Romanian Orthodox Church, from 19 – 20 May 2011.