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Ecumenism from Jerusalem: The Anointing of a Wrong Believing King

Updated: Nov 8, 2023

By Subdeacon Nektarios, M.A.

 


In the further blurring of the ecclesiastical boundaries of the Holy Orthodox Church, Patriarch Theophilos III of the Jerusalem Patriarchate participated in an act of Ecumenism that has largely been ignored by the Orthodox Christian world. On March 3rd, Patriarch Theophilos III consecrated holy oil that will be used by the church of England (Anglican Confession) for the coronation ceremony of the Titular King; Charles III, (Son of the Orthodox Christian Apostate, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh) at Westminster Abbey in London. This brazen act of Ecumenism is being praised among the Ecumenists and those in the church of England as well as those inside of Buckingham Palace [1]. In an official press release from the Royal Communications Office they state:


The Chrism oil which will be used to anoint His Majesty The King on 6th May 2023 has been consecrated in Jerusalem. In a special ceremony at The Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, The oil has been consecrated by the Patriarch of Jerusalem, His Beatitude Patriarch Theophilos III, and the Anglican Archbishop in Jerusalem, The Most Reverend Hosam Naoum.


The oil has been created using olives harvested from two groves on the Mount of Olives, at the Monastery of Mary Magdalene and the Monastery of the Ascension. The Monastery of Mary Magdalene is the burial place of His Majesty’s grandmother, Princess Alice of Greece. The olives were pressed just outside Bethlehem. The oil has been perfumed with essential oils - sesame, rose, jasmine, cinnamon, neroli, benzoin and amber - as well as orange blossom. The Coronation oil is based on the oil used at the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, the formula of which has been used for hundreds of years. It will also be used for the anointing of Her Majesty The Queen Consort.


The Archbishop of Canterbury said:


“I am honoured and grateful that His Beatitude Patriarch Theophilos III and Archbishop Hosam Naoum have consecrated the oil that will be used to anoint His Majesty The King. I want to thank especially His Beatitude for providing this Coronation Oil, which reflects The King’s personal family connection with the Holy Land and his great care for its peoples. I am also delighted that the Anglican Archbishop in Jerusalem shared in the consecration of the oil.


“Since beginning the planning for the Coronation, my desire has been for a new Coronation Oil to be produced using olive oil from the Mount of Olives. This demonstrates the deep historic link between the Coronation, the Bible and the Holy Land. From ancient kings through to the present day, monarchs have been anointed with oil from this sacred place. As we prepare to anoint The King and The Queen Consort, I pray that they would be guided and strengthened by the Holy Spirit” [2].


The reason that this is in fact problematic and an act of ecumenism is that the Coronation of a Monarch is in fact a mystery of the Holy Orthodox Church in which during various periods in history the Emperors were even anointed with Holy Chrism (Unction). It should be noted "that unction was not adopted till at least some [time] in the twelfth century" in Byzantium but historically originated out of the Western Orthodox Kingdoms [3]. "After Rome became Christian under St. Constantine, an additional criterion of legitimate political power was that it should be Orthodox. Thus in the late sixth century the son of the Visigothic King of Spain, St. Hermenegild, rose up against his Arian father Leogivild in the name of Orthodoxy, and was supported by the armies of the Byzantine province of Spania (south-west Spain). Hermenegild’s rebellion was unsuccessful, and he himself was martyred for refusing to receive communion from an Arian bishop at Pascha, 585. However, at the Council of Toledo in 589, the new king, Reccared and the whole of the Gothic nobility accepted Orthodoxy. Thus, as St. Dmitri of Rostov writes, “the fruit of the death of this one man was life and Orthodoxy for all the people of Spain"" [4].

Patriarch Theophilos Reading from Liturgical Books to Consecrate the Oil

"Could a Roman emperor after Constantine who was not Orthodox be counted as legitimate? In general, the Christians tended to give a positive answer to this question on the grounds that the root of the Roman tree was good even if its fruits were occasionally bad, which is why they obeyed the Monophysite and Iconoclast emperors in all but their religious policies. However, [...] there were precedents for a more rigorous position which accepted a power as Roman and legitimate only if it was also Orthodox.


What about the numerous emperors who won power by means of a military coup? The possibility that an emperor might rule by might but not by right gave rise to the need for a further, more ecclesiastical form of legitimization – specifically, the sacrament of royal anointing. This sacrament went back to the age of the Old Testament Kings Saul and David, who were anointed by the Prophet and Priest Samuel. The grace of anointing both separates and strengthens the king for his holy task, and gives his person a sacred inviolability. The truly anointed king partakes in Christ’s Kingship in the same way that a duly ordained priest partakes in His Priesthood" [5].


One might ask, but the Patriarch is not anointing or crowning King Charles himself so what is the problem? The problem lies in the consecration of oil, which is intended for use in the Mystery of the Anointing of a Monarch. According to the Jerusalem Patriarchate's official website, an "historical event took place today, Friday March 3, in Jerusalem where the oil that will be used for the anointing of His Majesty King Charles III in the coronation ceremony on the 6th May 2023, was consecrated by His Beatitude our Father and Patriarch Theophilos III, and later by the Anglican Archbishop in Jerusalem, The Most Reverend Hosam Naoum" [6].

Patriarch Theophilos III Praying & Two Orthodox Bishops Holding the Holy Gospel over the Oil.

The question that needs to be asked is what specific liturgical rite did Patriarch Theophilos use for this consecration of the oil to be used at the Coronation of King Charles? According to the Royal Communications official publication it was Chrism. In addition, the Royal Communications website states that "the Coronation oil is based on the oil used at the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II" [7]. Does this mean that the Orthodox Patriarch took the so-called Chrism from the heretical church of England and consecrated it himself? According to the Episcopal (Anglican) Diocese of Jerusalem's website the oil used is also Chrism [8]. This also begs the question, if the Jerusalem Patriarch just simply blessed this oil why then according to their official website does it say that the oil "was consecrated by His Beatitude our Father and Patriarch Theophilos III, and later by the Anglican Archbishop in Jerusalem, The Most Reverend Hosam Naoum" [9]. Does the simple blessing of oil require a Patriarch, two other bishops, deacons, priests, and holding the Holy Gospels over the cauldron that is creating this Holy Oil? Or was this an actual consecration of Orthodox Holy Chrism by Patriarch Theophilos, despite the fact that they receive their own Chrism from the Ecumenical Patriarch?

The Official Royal Communication

If Patriarch Theophilos did in fact consecrate Holy Chrism for King Charles, he would then be giving a holy mystery of the Orthodox Church to a heretical Protestant organization for the coronation of a King who belongs to a Protestant sect that was born out of another King's (Henry VIII) lust and adultery in 1536. If this Holy Oil was in fact not consecrated Chrism then what was it? What blessing of oil requires a Patriarch, two additional bishops, priests, deacons, liturgical books, the Holy Gospels and other liturgical prayers? Whether or not this oil was simply blessed holy oil or, worse, Holy Chrism, the Patriarch is dragging the Jerusalem Patriarchate into the heresy of Ecumenism and absolutely contradicting the Holy Gospel of Matthew which states, "Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you" [10].


 

References


[1]. "Elizabeth's Fiancé Now an Anglican," The New York Times, accessed March 8th, 2023, https://www.nytimes.com/1947/10/04/archives/elizabeths-fiance-now-an-anglican.html


[2]. "The Consecration of the Coronation Oil," Royals, accessed March 8th, 2023, https://www.royal.uk/consecration-coronation-oil


[3]. F. E. Brightman, "Byzantine Imperial Coronations," The Journal of Theological Studies 2, no 7 (April 1901), 385.


[4]. "The Mystery of Royal Anointing" Dr Vladimir Moss, accessed March 8th, 2023, https://www.orthodoxchristianbooks.com/articles/488/-mystery-royal-anointing/


[5]. Ibid.


[6]. "The Consecration of the Coronation Oil of His Majesty King Charles III," Patriarchate of Jerusalem, accessed March 8th, 2023, https://en.jerusalem-patriarchate.info/blog/2023/03/03/the-consecration-of-the-coronation-oil-of-his-majesty-king-charles-iii/


[7]. "The Consecration of the Coronation Oil," Royals, accessed March 8th, 2023, https://www.royal.uk/consecration-coronation-oil


[8]. "The Chrism oil which will be used to anoint His Majesty The King on 6th May 2023 has been consecrated in Jerusalem," The Episcopal Church in Jerusalem, accessed March 8th, 2023, https://j-diocese.org/wordpress/news-2/


[9]. "The Consecration of the Coronation Oil of His Majesty King Charles III," Patriarchate of Jerusalem, accessed March 8th, 2023, https://en.jerusalem-patriarchate.info/blog/2023/03/03/the-consecration-of-the-coronation-oil-of-his-majesty-king-charles-iii/


[10]. The Gospel of St Matthew 7:6, KJV.











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