Ukrainian press mocks Moscow church's discord with ecumenical patriarch


RISU, 23 September 2021


On 23 September in the St. Daniel's monastery in Moscow, the Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church (RPTs) is meeting under the chairmanship of Patriarch of Moscow Kirill. Under consideration is the question of planning for a Bishops' Council in 2021. Patriarch Kirill announced at a theological conference in Moscow the convocation of the council for consideration of relations with the ecumenical patriarch in connection with the granting of autocephaly to the PTsU (Orthodox Church of Ukraine).


His words were quoted by Religiina Pravda: "I think that the Bishops' Council can be convoked in the autumn of this year, and one of the chief questions should be the question of our attitude toward the innovation that Constantinople has formulated in connection with the granting of 'autocephaly' to Ukrainian schismatics and in connection with the enormous confusion that this decision has sowed in the ecumenical Orthodox church."


Metropolitan Onufry is also a permanent member of the Holy Synod. There is no report about the metropolitan's trip to Moscow for participating in the Synod on the official website of the UPTsMP (Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate).


As RISU has reported, on 16 September there was a conference held in the Sergius Hall of the church of Christ the Savior in Moscow. It was titled "World Orthodoxy:  Primacy and Conciliarity in the light of Orthodox doctrine," and its goal was to carry out an informational attack on the ecumenical patriarchate and on the PTsU.


The goal of the conference was to discuss such questions as primacy, conciliarity, and the procedure for granting autocephaly. That is, those questions that were supposed to be discussed at the Pan-Orthodox Council on Cyprus in 2016 with the participation of all Orthodox churches, but the RPTs refused to participate precisely because the procedure for granting autocephaly was supposed to be discussed there.


At this conference, the patriarch of Moscow posed the question of whether ecclesiastical authority can be considered legitimate when it has engaged in concelebration with schismatics. Kirill urged the theologians from various countries, who participated in this forum, to think through how to apply these canons in practice and just what they mean for the current situation.


We recall that the religious studies specialist Dmitry Gorevoy reported that the Russian Orthodox Church is seriously planning to declare Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew a heretic. It is intended to make a final decision in November of this year. Patriarch of Moscow Kirill is afraid of making such decisions himself and so he is assembling a Bishops' Council in order to share the responsibility for this with more than 400 bishops. The specialist also predicted what such action by the RPTs can lead to.


Dmitry Gorevoy predicted that the RPTs will not be supported in this by a single autocephalous church. "It will turn out that only the RPTs will recognize Bartholomew as a heretic. But according to Orthodox canons, the person who prays with a heretic makes himself a heretic. Since nobody will cut off relations with Bartholomew and they will continue communion, then Moscow will have to subsequently view all Orthodox hierarchs as heretics, including the Serbs who are most loyal to it. In this way, the Moscow patriarchate will canonically drive itself into a trap. Because it either follows the canons and isolates itself or it creates hybrid relationships, but in violation of the canons.


According to Dmitry Gorevoy, Kirill is psychologically unprepared for isolation. "This will really be the final step forcing the hierarch into a dead end. Although his likely successor, Tikhon Shevkunov, who is christened by Russian media as 'Putin's spiritual director,' is a much greater isolationist, who may in the future lead the RPTs into the dead end." (tr. by PDS, posted 23 September 2021)

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