of Constantinople had little choice but to accept these innovations. However, there was one exception, and it provoked an important riposte. When in 1870 the newly re-established Bulgarian Orthodox Church sought to confirm its rights over its own diaspora in Constantinople and its vicinity, the patriarchate saw this as an untoward intrusion. Was Bulgarian ethnicity to override canonical norms? It was a matter of principle, and in 1872 the patriarch of Constantinople convened a local council in order to define and defend it. In the process it declared 'phyletism' to be 'contrary to the teaching of the Gospel and holy canons of our blessed fathers'. Such phyletism involved the parallel existence of 'nationally defined' churches, and these were firmly condemned. In any case, there should never be rival jurisdictions in any one place.11 The continued existence of such churches seemed to ridicule the decisions of 1872. Yet their diasporas were to multiply throughout the succeeding years.
When in 1922 the Turks forcibly dispersed the Greek population of Asia Minor beyond its ancient borders, Constantinople itself was faced with new diaspora problems of its own. Some of the uprooted faithful were assimilated into neighbouring churches, like the Greek. Others formed diaspora communities, with affiliation to the patriarchate as of old. Hence exarchates of Constantinople were set up in 1922 for both America and Europe. In the process the diaspora situation became the norm. Meanwhile, in terms of resident population, the actual diocese of Constantinople was reduced to a flimsy remnant of its former self. But its understanding of pre-eminence survived.
The Russian revolutions of 1917 produced changes along the western frontiers of the former Russian Empire which prompted the establishment of national Orthodox churches in Poland, Latvia, Estonia and Finland during the succeeding decades. Some of these were to generate their own diasporas as the result of the Second World War. But more important numerically was the dispersal of more than a million Russians into different parts of the world in the aftermath of civil war (1918-22). This resulted from the imposition of Soviet rule, with its attendant assault on religion. The Russian diaspora was seen to have pastoral concern for the refugees in its midst. But it also had the task of supporting its distant and afflicted mother-church.
11 Text of the council's preparatory commission (1872), quoted in Maximos, Oecumenical patriarchate, 251-2.
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