Russian foreign minister blames U.S.A. for Ukrainian church problems


RIA Novosti, 24 July 2021


The U.S.A. manages the patriarchate of Constantinople and their actions do not have anything in common with the ideals of Orthodoxy, Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergei Lavrov declared.


"We have a clear understanding that the actions of  Constantinople, which are directly manipulated from Washington, have nothing in common with the ideals of Orthodoxy and with those traditions on the basis of which cooperation among local churches have always been organized. It now is being crudely violated. This is pressure in the sense that it demands efforts for counteracting such absolutely unacceptable actions," Lavrov said on a broadcast on the Rossiia24 television channel.


He noted that the creation of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine had been offered as a "movement in order that every Orthodox nation would have the right of choice."


"We know very well how the Orthodox Church of Ukraine was created. This was not simply the initiative of Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew. It was directly dictated by the U.S.A. By and large they do not conceal this. The special ambassador for freedom of religion [Sam Brownback—tr.], who was appointed under the past American administration, did things that directly contradict his mandate: he undermined freedom of religion, imposing organizational parameters (expressed in bureaucratic language) on various local churches. Disrupting the unity of the Orthodox believers of Russia and Ukraine and creating there a schismatic, disenfranchised (essentially) church. Disrupting the unity of the Antioch church and trying to tear away Lebanese Orthodox from it. The same thing is happening with respect to the canonical territory of the Serbian Orthodox Church," the minister added.


In 2018, on the initiative of former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew, a schismatic structure was created—the Orthodox Church of Ukraine (PTsU)—which was formed by means of a merger of two other similar structures. The new church received a tomos of autocephaly from Patriarch Bartholomew. And then the persecution of the canonical UPTs was intensified.


The PTsU also was recognized by the first hierarchs of the Alexandria and Greek churches, whose episcopate, like that of the Constantinople church, comprises primarily Greeks, and in 2020 the primate of the Cypriot church, which also is primarily Greek-speaking. The Russian Orthodox Church responded to this by breaking relations with the Constantinople patriarchate and those primates and bishops in other local churches who accepted the Ukrainian schism, including the head of the Greek Orthodox Church, Archbishop of Athens and all-Greece Ieronymos, and Archbishop of Cyprus Chrisostomos. (tr. by PDS, posted 24 July 2021)

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