By Kostas Onisenko
Today’s statements of Patriarch Kirill of Moscow directed against the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew are of great interest.
To promote himself as the patron saint of all Orthodox, including – as Kirill pointed out – Greece, the Russian Patriarch has now moved to a new level of argument.
The Patriarch of Moscow argued that the Ecumenical Patriarch acted because of external pressure and not based on his personal decision, based on the Ecclesiastical Canons and the prevailing situation. Patriarch Kirill even responds to himself by saying that the “external pressure” allegedly received by the Ecumenical Patriarch does not justify his actions as other Patriarchs did not succumb to the pressure they had received.
The statements in question were made during a ceremony of awarding ecclesiastical honors to the chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department for External Church Relations, Metropolitan Hilarion, and other executives of the department. Apparently, this very part of the Russian Church is at the forefront of the attack on the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the Patriarchate of Alexandria, and other Churches.
“I will allow myself to say so because I know Patriarch Bartholomew well. He probably did not act with his own logic, nor with his own will “said the Patriarch of Moscow and continued:” And how did we act differently, living in an atheistic state? You will not frighten us, we went through everything and did not break off communication with any of the local Orthodox Churches…” referring on the one hand to the difficulties that the Russian Church had during the USSR but with indirect reference to the possibility of Russia – because of her deeds- to be found isolated from the rest of orthodoxy.
The Patriarch of Moscow wanted to show with his words that he respected the Ecumenical Patriarchate and in this way to claim that he was trying to protect Orthodoxy from the Ecumenical Patriarch. In fact, he is trying to show that the Russian Church’s attack on the Ecumenical Patriarchate has been caused by a single person, the Ecumenical Patriarch. “Among the Patriarchs of Constantinople there were martyrs, one of them – Patriarch Gregory – was hanged at the gates of the Patriarchate. Constantinople has always been a bulwark of Orthodoxy for us,” said Patriarch Kirill.
«(…) Because in Greece, and in other countries, which are under the influence of the Patriarch of Constantinople, live our brothers and sisters, pious monks and nuns and for us, it is a great sorrow, that because of the mistakes of one, others suffer” said Kirill trying to show the inner audience that he has more power and value.
Finally, the Patriarch of Moscow accused the Ecumenical Patriarch of being a schismatic, saying that “as humans, we are very anxious that today the Patriarch of Constantinople joined the schism because it communicated with the schismatics and recognized the self-ordained, those who do not have valid ordinances, as true Hierarchs.” This is a statement that, according to the available information, is expected to be “formalized” by the Russian Church at the Hierarchical Synod that is expected next November.