By Efi Efthimiou
Metropolitan Hilarion of Budapest and Hungary gave his first major interview after his expulsion from Moscow and the Metropolis of Volokolamsk to the Russian network Ria Novosti.
There, Metropolitan Hilarion, who disappeared for more than a year, presented his almost 40-page report entitled “On the alteration of the Orthodox teaching on the Church in the actions of the hierarchy of the Patriarchate of Constantinople and the interventions of its representatives.”
In the interview with Ria Novosti, which is published in the Russian and Greek versions of the website of the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate, he refers primarily to the content of this text, which was approved by the Synaxis of Bishops.
In fact, Metropolitan Hilarion stresses that the text is a “compilation” of the positions of the Moscow Patriarchate against the “deviations from the canonical principles” observed by the Patriarchate in the actions of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
“The idea was to explain which points the Russian Orthodox Church does not agree with the Patriarchate of Constantinople. And these points proved to be enough. This is a disagreement not only with some specific actions but also with the stance. We set out this position and presented our arguments against it. This is the purpose of the text,” he says characteristically in the interview.
Particular importance is given to the visit of the Ecumenical Patriarch to Lithuania and Estonia, with Metropolitan Hilarion referring to the… intrusion of the Ecumenical Patriarchate which has begun since 1996. He also made a special reference to the restoration of the five clergymen from Lithuania, by the Ecumenical Patriarch.
Regarding this document, Metropolitan Hilarion stressed that it will be examined by the Holy Synod at its next meeting and then by the Synod of the Hierarchy, while it will be translated into several languages and sent officially so that the other Churches have knowledge of the content.
The main issue in this document is the issue of primacy of Constantinople as an Ecumenical and authoritarian jurisdiction. “We never questioned the primacy of honor of the Patriarch of Constantinople. However, the primacy of honor is one thing and the powers beyond the boundaries of his local Church are another,” he said.
The importance of Metropolitan Hilarion’s interview lies more in the fact that he spoke to a large Russian network, after a long time and while the war in Ukraine continues.
Far from accidental can be considered his sudden “exposure” after months of “silence”. First, he was introduced to the Synaxis of Bishops and now he was interviewed by a large Russian network.
In neither case did he refer to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the war that is raging. In the interview, he quoted the statements of Patriarch Kirill of Moscow from his presentation at the Synaxis of Bishops on the “current armed confrontation between Russia and Ukraine”, which if one reads, will assume that the head of the Russian Church prays for the victims of the armed conflict on both sides. However, the Patriarch of Moscow, at the dinner he hosted the night before the beginning of the Synaxis, appealed “to the battle for the Motherland and the Church.”