Moscow patriarchate reacts to Greek church


RIA Novosti, 17 October 2019

Commemoration of the head of the Greek Orthodox Church, Archbishop Ieronymos, in the diptychs of the Russian Orthodox Church (RPTs) will cease if he will commemorate during the liturgy the head of the Ukrainian schismatics, Vladimir Legoida, the head of the synod's Department for Relations of Church with Society and News Media, declared at a briefing on the results of the Synod of the RPTs.


"The Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church authorized His Holiness Patriarch of Moscow and all-Rus Kirill to cease commemoration of the name of His Beatitude Archbishop of Athens and all-Greece in the diptychs, in the event that the primate of the Greek church begins to commemorate during the divine liturgy the head of one of the Ukrainian schismatic groupings or takes other actions indicating effective recognition by him of the Ukrainian church schism," Legoida said, quoting the decision of the Synod.


The statement expresses regret that "the historic services of the Greek people in spreading Orthodoxy are being exchanged for temporary political benefit and the support of geopolitical interests that are alien to the church." However, the bishops of the Synod noted, "these speculations on nationalistic feelings will not have success."


"They will not be able to undermine the unity of our faith that has been bought by the blood of new martyrs and confessors of our churches. They will not interrupt the unity of our ascetic tradition created by the feats of many holy fathers and ascetics. They will not destroy the centuries-old friendship of the Greek and Slavic peoples, bought with the blood of Russian soldiers and tempered in the common struggle for the freedom of the fraternal Greek people," the document notes, the full text of which was published on the website of the Russian Orthodox Church.


The Greek Orthodox Church (G.O.C.) on 12 October 2019 acknowledged the right of the patriarch of Constantinople to grant autocephaly within the Orthodox world, at his discretion. The report of the head of the G.O.C., Archbishop Ieronymos, contains the recommendation to recognize the "new church" of Ukraine. In particular, it notes that "the church of Ukraine has always remained within the canonical ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the ecumenical patriarchate," despite 300 years of the official recognition by everybody of its membership in the Russian Orthodox Church, and that the recognition of the church of the schismatics is a circumstance "especially useful for the Orthodox church and valuable for strengthening relations between the churches of Great Russia and Ukraine."


The results of the council of the Greek church evoked an ambiguous reaction within the G.O.C. itself. Thus, two Greek metropolitans, Seraphim of Kythria and Seraphim of Piraeus, declared that the Bishops' Council did not make a decision about recognition of the autocephaly of the "new church" of Ukraine because of the absence of a vote on this issue, despite the official statement about its results, and they called the council's decision invalid. Seraphim of Piraeus also declared the impossibility of granting "autocephaly" to schismatics. There are 81 metropolitans in the Greek church, of whom 69 were present at the council, but only 33 participated in the discussion.


In late 2018, on the initiative of Ukrainian authorities and the patriarchate of Constantinople, the so-called "new church" of Ukraine was created; it is a schismatic structure formed by means of the merger of two other schismatic churches. After receiving from Patriarch Bartholomew a tomos concerning "autocephaly," in reality it found itself almost completely dependent upon Constantinople. On 15 October 2018, the RPTs ceased eucharistic communion with the patriarchate of Constantinople. (tr. by PDS, posted 17 October 2019)

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