LAST UPDATE: 13:05
In an interview with the Russian news agency “RIA” just before for the extraordinary meeting of the Holy Synod the Hierarchy in Athens to discuss the Ukrainian autocephaly issue, Metropolitan of Volokolamsk Hilarion has a provocative and indirect, if not clear, threatening attitude towards the Church of Greece, which will “find itself isolated if it recognizes the schism.”
“Anyone who recognizes the schism will find himself isolated,” said the Metropolitan in response to the journalist’s question about “threats” made by Greek hierarchs on the isolation of the Russian Orthodox Church.
Although the Metropolitan stated that the Church of Greece was autocephalous and hoped that it would make its decisions without “external pressure,” Metropolitan Hilarion has constantly kept up the pressure, recalling the Old Calendarists issue that he used in the past as leverage on Athens. The Metropolitan also implicitly but necessarily announced that full communion would possibly be severed.
“How will the Church of Russia react if the Church of Greece recognizes the Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Ukraine?” the journalist asked the Metropolitan.
“How would Athens react if we recognized one of the old calendarists groups?” answered the Metropolitan to the journalist’s implicitly threatening question.
Severing full communion is a mandatory response
Once again Metropolitan Hilarion defended the decision of the Russian Orthodox Church to sever communion with the Ecumenical Patriarchate, which would be, almost certainly, the response to any corresponding decision. “When the Church of Constantinople granted the Tomos of Autocephaly to the schismatics of Ukraine, we had no choice but to sever Eucharistic communion,” said the Metropolitan while calling on “Greek hierarchs who did not understand this decision and thought it was a harsh measure […] to put themselves in their shoes.”
We feel powerful
“The Church of Russia gain strong support from the Orthodox Churches, some of which have openly expressed their disagreement with the legitimization of the schism in Ukraine while others tacitly disagree with it,” he said.
It is recalled that Metropolitan Hilarion has targeted Greece several times. He urged Russian pilgrims to abstain from economic exchanges with monasteries on Mount Athos while warning of a decline in Russian pilgrims to Greece and an “enforced” establishment of church structures by the Patriarchate of Moscow to meet, if necessary, the worship needs of Russians living in Greece.
The meeting of the Hierarchy of the Autocephalous, as Metropolitan Hilarion rightly pointed out, Church of Greece, is scheduled for Saturday.