17 September 2018, The Tablet

Russian Orthodox reject Bartholomew’s rights over Ukrainian Church

by Edward Kendall

Warning that Communion could be broken

Russian Orthodox reject Bartholomew’s rights over Ukrainian Church

Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, chairman of the External Church Relations Department of the Moscow Patriarchate, gives a news conference following a special meeting of the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church at the Danilov Monastery in Moscow 14 September
Photo: Mikhail Metzel/Tass/PA Images

The Russian Orthodox Church have released a statement declaring that they do not recognise the authority of the Patriarchate of Constantinople to grant autocephaly to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

The statement was adopted on 14 September at an extraordinary session of the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church

The Russian Orthodox Church believe that the Ukrainian Orthodox Church comes within their jurisdiction and in their statement they give detailed historical reasons why they believe this to be the case.

The statement declares that until the twentieth century “none of the Local Orthodox Churches, including the Church of Constantinople, had disputed the jurisdiction of the Russian Church over the Kiev Metropolia.”

 If the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) has jurisdiction over the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, based in Kiev, then it follows that the Patriarchate of Constantinople has no authority to grant autocephaly to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, the ROC said.

The statement declares that the recent “unilateral, uncanonical actions of the See of Constantinople in the territory of Ukraine, committed while ignoring completely the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, indicate a direct support for the Ukrainian schism.”

It adds: “The deep concern of the Russian Orthodox Church over the erroneous and distorted notions of the Church of Constantinople concerning the situation in Ukraine was personally conveyed by Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia to Patriarch Bartholomew on 31 August 2018. However, as the further developments showed, the voice of the Russian Church was not heard and in a week after the meeting the Patriarchate of Constantinople published the un-canonical decision regarding the appointment of its so-called ‘exarchs’ to Kiev.

“In this critical situation, when Constantinople has practically refused to resolve the matter by means of dialogue, the Moscow Patriarchate is forced to suspend the liturgical prayerful commemoration of the Patriarch of Constantinople and with profound regret to suspend the concelebration with hierarchs of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, as well as to break off the participation of the Russian Orthodox Church in the Episcopal Assemblies and in the theological dialogues, multilateral commissions and any other structures chaired or co-chaired by representatives of the Patriarchate of Constantinople.”

The ROC then added a further warning: “In the event that the Patriarchate of Constantinople will continue to carry out its uncanonical activities in the territory of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, we will be compelled to completely break off the Eucharistic communion with the Patriarchate of Constantinople. All the responsibility for the tragic consequences of this division will lie personally with Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople and the hierarchs supporting him.”

The full statement can be found here


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