by Efi Efthymiou
Patriarch Kirill of Moscow seems to have taken on the role of the protector of Orthodoxy -in fact, throughout the world- from those “political forces with influence in the world that are hostile not only to Russia and Orthodoxy but also to the Christian worldview as a whole”.
According to the website of the Department for External Church Relations of the Patriarchate, yesterday a “Synaxis of Bishops” (Convocation of Bishops) was held in Moscow, which was scheduled from December 2022 “for the fraternal discussion of current issues of the church life.”
The Synaxis was attended by all the eparchical and auxiliary bishops of the eparchies within Russia and their attendance was “obligatory”. Hierarchs from the eparchies in other countries attended the Synaxis, depending on whether they were able to go to Moscow.
The representative of the Patriarch of Antioch to the Patriarchal Throne of Moscow, Metropolitan Nifon of Philippopolis, the representative of the Patriarch of Serbia to the Patriarch of Moscow, Bishop Antony of Moravica, the representative of the Orthodox Church of the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the Patriarchal Throne of Moscow, Archimandrite Seraphim Shemyatovsky, the representative of the Orthodox Church in America, Archpriest Daniel Andrejuk.
In his speech during the Synaxis, the Patriarch of Moscow claimed that the actions of the Ecumenical Patriarchate (“Patriarchate of Constantinople” as he mentions it) “have paved the way for ecclesiastical disorder and to the long-term and at present serious persecution of Orthodox Christians within Ukraine.”
In his speech, he speaks against the Ecumenical Patriarchate and Patriarch Bartholomew personally, which he describes as “instruments of the war against Orthodoxy” and that the top hierarchs of the Ecumenical Patriarchate “and her leading bishops, aided by political forces external to the Church, have now for a long time been ready to tear apart the unity of Orthodoxy, have undertaken secret negotiations and have intrigues in motion.”
He also refers to his visit to Constantinople in August 2018, when he decided to personally convey to Bartholomew the “the objective picture of the situation in Ukraine”, adding that the Ecumenical Patriarch preferred not to hear anything, and in the autumn of 2018, “in violation of the sacred canons, he intervened in Ukraine in order to ‘cancel’ the hierarchy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and legitimize the schism by granting an illusory autocephaly to it.”
According to the Patriarch of Moscow, the Synod of the Russian Church was “forced” to cease the commemoration of the Ecumenical Patriarch and the concelebration with his hierarchs.
Regarding the recognition of the Autocephaly of the Church of Ukraine by the Patriarchate of Alexandria and the Churches of Cyprus and Greece, the Patriarch of Moscow stressed that it came after severe pressure from foreigners against the Church, using ethno-racial arguments, with blatant violations of the established synodal procedures.
Metropolitan Kyrillos also said that world political forces aim to attack not only Russia and Orthodoxy, but Christianity and that their objectives go beyond Ukraine.
“Another, and more global, aim is to tear asunder or weaken to the lim it the spiritual ties between our Eastern Slavic Orthodox world and the Orthodox community of the Mediterranean and the Middle East. And yet one more task undertaken by forces hostile to Orthodoxy is to hinder the preservation of the Christian foundations of the cradle of modern-day civilization which is Europe,” the Patriarch of Moscow pointed out.
He accused Patriarch Bartholomew and the Patriarchate of “new ecclesiology” as well as of having “initiated a schism”, which has made it extremely difficult for the Russian Church to maintain spiritual ties with a significant part of the Greek Orthodox world.
He even claims that the enemies of the Church did not fully achieve the goal they had set. Thus, he stated, “Even within the Greek Orthodox Church there are not a few courageous bishops, priests, and theologians who have refused to recognize the illegitimate actions of Constantinople, who have not entered into communion with the schismatic pseudo-ecclesiastical leaders calling themselves metropolitans and bishops.”
The appearance of the disappeared former Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk
It is worth noting that the recommendation on the preparation by the Committee of the text “on the alteration of the Orthodox Church’s teaching on the actions of the Patriarchate of Constantinople and the interventions of its representatives” came from Metropolitan Hilarion of Hungary and Budapest, who disappeared for more than a year.
We recall that the former Metropolitan of Volokolamsk and “right-hand man” of Patriarch Hilarion of Moscow, was removed from his position last June, in a decision that surprised many and since then literally “disappeared” from the ecclesiastical scene of the Russian Church. The stance of the Metropolitan at that time regarding the war in Ukraine had not gone unnoticed, mainly with the distance he kept from the position of the official Church of Russia.
This document of Metropolitan Hilarion, which was approved by the members of the Synaxis of Bishops, refers to the division of the Orthodox world, which was caused by “uncanonical actions of the Patriarchate of Constantinople and the new teachings, which are spread by the Primate and his official representatives.”
In fact, as we learn from the website of the Department for External Church Relations of the Russian Orthodox Church, the participants of the Synaxis pointed out that “the new doctrine of the primacy of the Patriarch of Constantinople, which is presented as the earthly head of the Ecumenical Church, grants him rights and privileges that go far beyond the limits of the rights of any other Primate of the Local Orthodox Church and violate the canonical rights of the other Churches.
The violation of the basic principles on which their Orthodox ecclesiology was based for centuries now, especially by Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, was the cause of the schism in ecumenical Orthodoxy,” the document states.