As Nikolai Balashov stated, the close advisor of Patriarch Kirill, the Moscow Patriarchate rushed to welcome the initiative of Patriarch Theophilos of Jerusalem for peace in Ukraine and to heal the wounds within the Orthodox world.
As Archpriest Nikolai Balashov said in a statement, “the Russian Orthodox Church welcomes any mediatory efforts aimed at developing dialogue and the establishing of a just peace in Ukraine.”
It is noteworthy that, as in of most of the announcements made by Hierarchs of the Russian Church since the beginning of the war, Father Nikolai Balashov in his statement refers to a “military conflict in Ukraine”, without condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
It is also common that the Russian Church welcomes the initiative of another Church for peace in Ukraine, while it continues to bless the war and “prays” for the victory of the Russian troops over the Orthodox Ukrainians, as it is “their selfless duty”.
It is noteworthy that he refers to the Patriarch of Jerusalem as the “Patriarch of the Holy City of Jerusalem, the Primate of the most ancient of Churches which is the Mother of all the Christian Churches”, refusing, like the leadership of the Russian Church, to accept the role of the Ecumenical Patriarchate as the Mother Church.
Besides, this is something that Patriarch Theophilos also did two days ago in his announcement of the initiative, where it was written “by the Mother of all the Churches”, meaning the Patriarchate of Jerusalem.
The priest of the Russian Church stresses that in the previous mediatory effort of the Patriarch of Jerusalem in Amman, Jordan, in 2020, he commented that “it was a vital step in the sphere of inter-Orthodox communication, and this step must find its continuation.”
It is worth noting that this initiative of Patriarch Theophilos was deemed as a fiasco, since despite the fact that it was billed as a “synaxis (gathering) of Primates”, only the Patriarch of Moscow, the Patriarch of Serbia and the Metropolitan of the Czech Republic showed up in Amman, as most of the Primates of the Churches refused to participate.
In a new attempt (this time indirectly) to challenge the role of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, Father Nikolai Balashov stressed in his statement that “a key role in ensuring this discussion has many times been played by Jerusalem,” ignoring the fact that only the Ecumenical Patriarch has right and competence to convene a Pan-Orthodox Council.
Finally, he said that the Russian Church would support “these courageous endeavours”, and that the importance of dialogue between the Churches was of enormous value, “even if this dialogue is fraught with many difficulties in bringing it to fruition, while the Primates of some of the Churches have already beforehand declared that they in principle refuse to discuss the decisions made.”
Read the full statement of Fr. Nikolai Balashov below:
Advisor to the Patriarch of Moscow and All Rus’ Archpriest Nikolai Balashov commented upon the recent initiatives by His Beatitude the Patriarch of the Holy City of Jerusalem and All Palestine Theophilos III, who expressed his willingness to ensure peace in Ukraine and a conciliar discussion of the problems which exist within worldwide Orthodoxy.
Several days ago, in Rome, Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos declared that the Church of Jerusalem was willing to act as mediator in overcoming the military conflict in Ukraine and in obtaining peace by means of negotiations, as well as wishing to continue dialogue aimed at averting “the danger of schism within the body of the Orthodox Church.” The Patriarch stated that he intended to do everything within his power to “heal the relationships within the Orthodox family.”
The Russian Orthodox Church welcomes any mediatory efforts aimed at developing dialogue and the establishing of a just peace in Ukraine. It is with the greatest respect that we treat the initiatives coming from the Patriarch of the Holy City of Jerusalem, the Primate of the most ancient of Churches which is the Mother of all the Christian Churches.
The Moscow Patriarchate also supports the aim of the Church of Jerusalem in enabling a conciliar discussion of the problems which have arisen within the worldwide Orthodox family. A key role in ensuring this discussion has many times been played by Jerusalem. We recall too the Amman meeting of the Primates and representatives of a number of the local Orthodox Churches which took place at the initiative of Patriarch Theophilus in 2020. It was a vital step in the sphere of inter-Orthodox communication, and this step must find its continuation. It is impossible to overestimate the importance of dialogue between the Churches, even if this dialogue is fraught with many difficulties in bringing it to fruition, while the Primates of some of the Churches have already beforehand declared that they in principle refuse to discuss the decisions made.
We value highly the labours of the Patriarch of Jerusalem in the cause of preserving, protecting and strengthening the Christian presence in the Holy Land and the Middle East in general. The Russian Orthodox Church will henceforth in whatever way possible support these courageous endeavours, which have evoked a deep response in the hearts of our compatriots, who with love and reverence honour the Holy Sepulchre and other common Christian holy sites, the guardian of which is the Patriarch of Jerusalem.