Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew expressed the opinion that it is better for Patriarch Kirill to step down than to support the war.
Speaking to The Pillar days before his visit to Britain and the Archdiocese of Thyateira, the Ecumenical Patriarch expressed his regret at Patriarch Kirill’s stance on the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
The spiritual leader of roughly 300 million Orthodox Christians worldwide said the ongoing war between the Orthodox has affected him greatly.
“What is still more painful to us is the fact that the Moscow Patriarchate has come to the level of submitting to the political ambitions of the Russian Federation, supporting and seemingly blessing this violent invasion and unjustified bloodshed,” he stressed, speaking to The Pillar.
“We have repeatedly condemned aggression and violence, as we fervently and fraternally appealed to the Patriarch of Moscow to separate his position from political crimes, even if it means stepping down from his throne,” he noted.
He had mentioned something similar in a previous interview with ERT, when commenting on Patriarch Kyril’s attitude towards the war, he had stated that “I expected brother Kyril to rise to the occasion at this critical historical moment. If needed, to sacrifice his Throne, to tell Putin, “Mr. President, I can’t agree with you, I resign, I’m leaving.” I don’t know what Putin would do if the Patriarch reacted to his plans, but that’s what we, the other brother Primates, would expect.
The Ecumenical Patriarch told The Pillar that he remains hopeful that the difficulties between Moscow and Constantinople would be resolved.
Regarding the fact that the Moscow Patriarchate cut off its ties with the Fanari after the recognition of the independence of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, Bartholomew stressed that it is unthinkable for the Ecumenical Patriarchate to respond in the same way, “because it is unthinkable for the Mother Church of Constantinople to cut off the historical spiritual ties with the pious Russian people.”
“In this spirit we hope that one day the Patriarchate of Moscow will also recognize that unity is not imposed by sovereignty, but only embraced in freedom,” Bartholomew noted.
Bartholomew also emphasized that he shares Pope Francis’ hope that Catholics and Orthodox will one day achieve full communion.
“If we do not share the same hope and longing for full communion, then we cannot truly say that we are disciples of Christ,” he said characteristically.
“Dialogue and reconciliation are not optional for us, they are directives and commandments. Needless to say, the obstacles remain, ecclesiastical and theological”, noted the Ecumenical Patriarch.