By Efi Efthimiou
Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, confessed the “blackmail” and intimidation of the Russian Church to the Churches that have recognized the Autocephaly of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, saying that if the “canonical order” does not get restored in Ukraine, it will not be restored throughout the world Orthodox community.
Speaking to the Russian news agency RIA Novosti, the No. 2 of the Moscow Patriarchate, commented on the reactions of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Patriarchate of Alexandria to the decision of the Russian Church to establish an “African Exarchate”, stating that “the Patriarchate of Constantinople is living in a parallel reality it has created by its actions in Ukraine. We expect the canonical order to be restored in Ukraine and then it will be possible to begin discussing the restoration of canonical order in the whole world Orthodox community.”
He also confirmed that this move by the Russian Church (for the creation of the Exarchate in Africa) is a retaliation for the recognition of the Church of Ukraine, stating that “the situation as it has developed in Africa is a direct consequence of the actions taken by Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople to legalize the Ukrainian schism, to ‘restore in the rank’ the persons who have never had canonical ordination”.
In fact, he warned that in this state of “canonical chaos” created by the “unilateral and hostile actions of the Patriarch of Constantinople against the Russian Church, the Orthodox Churches have to continue making non-standard decisions.”
The Metropolitan of Volokolamsk stated that the Russian Church has no hostile feelings for Patriarch Theodore of Alexandria, explaining that “when Patriarch Theodore began the liturgical commemoration of the schismatic leader and entered in con-celebration with the schismatics, an unprecedented situation was created as a result of which African clergymen refused to follow their Patriarch in acknowledging the schism and appealed to the Patriarch of Moscow”.
“We were not in a hurry to make a decision and waited for two years. However, as Patriarch Theodore’s attitude did not change and no one of the Patriarchate of Alexandria hierarchs expressed disagreement with this attitude, we deemed that we could no longer refuse the clergymen who asked the Patriarch of Moscow to accept them into the jurisdiction of the Russian Church for the only reason – the same one for which we had to break off communion with the Patriarch of Alexandria”, commented in his interview Metropolitan Hilarion, dispelling any doubt that the illegal invasion of the Moscow Patriarchate in the areas of jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Alexandria, comes in retaliation for the recognition of the Ukrainian Autocephaly by Patriarch Theodore.
He also said that the Moscow Patriarchate has no plans to respond to the reactions of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Patriarchate of Alexandria – which he describes as “expected” – as he considers that the exchange of statements is an “unthinkable and dead-end” path.
Finally, he “borrowed” part of the recent article by Archbishop Anastasios of Tirana and all of Albania on the issue of the establishment of an “African Exarchate”, in order to request an inter-Orthodox Synod.