Interview to Emilios Polygenis by Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk
An interview to Romfea.gr and Emilios Polygenis was given by the president of the Department for External Church Relations of the Patriarchate of Moscow, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk.
In his interview, the Metropolitan referred, inter alia, to the issue of the autocephaly of the Church of Ukraine, stressing that it was a great mistake to believe that the current crisis in global Orthodoxy is just a bilateral conflict.”
In addition, Metropolitan Hilarion spoke of the role of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in the issue of Ukraine while he pointed out that for the Church of Russia it was not easy to decide to severe the full communion.
The Church of Russia feels deeply grateful to sister Churches which took part to the celebrations for the 10th anniversary of the enthronement of Patriarch Kirill
Regarding the celebrations for the 10th anniversary of the enthronement of Patriarch Kirill and whether the event was influenced by the crisis prevailing among Orthodox churches, Metropolitan Hilarion said that the festivities took place in a warm and cordial ambience.
He underlined that the Church of Russia felt deeply grateful to HB Patriarch Ioannis of Antioch and All the East, HB Patriarch Irinej of Serbia, HB Metropolitan Rostislav of Czechoslovakia and Slovakia, HB Metropolitan Tikhon of America and Canada, who personally attended the celebrations with other members of their Churches.
He also expressed his gratitude to the sister Churches of Alexandria, Jerusalem, Georgia, Romania, Bulgaria and Poland, whose representatives also took part in the festivities.
“Patriarch Bartholomew pretended that the canonical Orthodox Church of Ukraine did not exist”
Metropolitan Hilarion added that Patriarch Bartholomew pretended that the canonical Orthodox Church of Ukraine did not exist, along with its 90 Bishops, thousands of clergymen, monks and millions of believers.
Constantinople does not mention them. It has denied the existence of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and its Hierarchy, while in regard to HB Metropolitan Onufrii of Kiev and all Ukraine, the Ecumenical Patriarchate is questioning the use of his title as a legitimate successor.
Regarding the prospect of recognizing the “Orthodox Church of Ukraine” by Orthodox churches, Metropolitan Hilarion hopes that there will be no recognition, adding that something like that would undermine the unity of Orthodoxy.
“Constantinople is trying to create a”parallel” hierarchy in the same ecclesiastical territory”
He criticized even that – in his words – Constantinople is now trying to do what it has been for many years against in the lands of the diaspora: to create a”parallel” hierarchy in the same ecclesiastical territory, with the destruction of the already existing in it canonical Church.
He further added that out of the 90 bishops of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church only two turned to the structure created by Constantinople: one diocesan bishop and one assistant bishop.
“The political factor”
Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk also referred to the political factor behind the process of creating the Orthodox Church of Ukraine.
He stated that it is like the Hellenic Parliament would take a decision to change the name of the Church of Greece and devise another name for it.
“It would be inconceivable, for example, to recognize the schismatic Old Calendarists as a Canonical Church in Greece and, with the help of the Parliament, to adopt a law to facilitate the occupation of the parishes of the Church of Greece by schismatics. In Ukraine, this is exactly what is happening!”
He further stated, referring to Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, that it is “painful to see that the political aspirations of a spiritual leader and the usurpation of the right to call the shots (Matt. 18, 18) worldwide, undermines the canonical foundations of the Orthodox Church and its mission.”
“The Church of Russia warned Patriarch Bartholomew not to further deepen the schism in Ukraine”
He adds that the Church of Russia warned Patriarch Bartholomew that the unilateral steps of the Church of Constantinople would deepen further the schism in Ukraine.
“The chief shepherds of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, as well as the hundreds of thousands of letters handed over to the Fener with the signatures of the Ukrainian clergy and laymen, were saying the same thing. Unfortunately, however, their voices were overthrown by Patriarch Bartholomew,” he underlined.
He also expressed the concern that in the future, when the authorities will understand that the majority of the parishes of the canonical Church do not want to join the schism, then the violence in Ukraine will increase even more. “And the responsibility for the spilled blood will fall to Patriarch Bartholomew and to those who have decided to join him in the legalization and supporting of the schism in Ukraine,” he said.
“The current crisis concerns other local churches too”
He also stressed that the Russian Church always hopes and prays that full communion will be restored with the Ecumenical Patriarchate in the future.
He further clarified that full communion is preserved with the Metropolitans of the New Lands participating in the Holy Synod of the Church of Greece and not of the Patriarchate of Constantinople.
Metropolitan Hilarion concluded that the current crisis in orthodoxy will not be confined to Ukraine alone, but concerns other local churches too.
He stresses that Constantinople despises the call of primates and hierarchs of other churches to jointly discuss the Ukrainian issue. And he thinks that the best that local churches can do now is not to accept “the iniquity that took place in Ukraine, to refuse to recognize the so-called Orthodox Church of Ukraine”, and to continue to fully support the Ukrainian Orthodox Church headed by Metropolitan Onufrii”.