Moscow and Athens, January 26, 2023
The Patriarchs of Moscow and Constantinople spoke about one another’s Churches this week, exchanging views about the poor state of inter-Orthodox relations and the geopolitical influence in the Church.
Yesterday, His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia gave a presentation in the State Kremlin Palace as part of the 21st International Christmas Educational Readings, on the theme of “Global Challenges of Modernity and Human Spiritual Choice.”
Among a number of other topics, the Patriarch tied the poor state of inter-Orthodox relations today to the creation and partial recognition of the schismatic “Orthodox Church of Ukraine.”
According to the Russian primate, the Patriarchate of Constantinople is a pawn in geopolitical games, and any hierarch who recognizes the schismatics thereby proves that he also isn’t free:
I can’t fail to mention the serious crisis in international relations, which, unfortunately, has also affected inter-Orthodox relations. For several years now, external forces have been using the Patriarchate of Constantinople for their political purposes. Its position is very vulnerable, since the center is located in Turkey, on the territory controlled by non-Orthodox authorities, and the main dioceses and sources of income are located in the United States and Western Europe. It’s quite obvious that these factors deprive the Patriarchate of Constantinople of freedom, and therefore it’s through it that they’re trying to split the Russian Orthodox Church today by legalizing the newly created schismatic structure in Ukraine. Being under the powerful pressure of these forces, some primates, as well as hierarchs of a number of Local Orthodox Churches, also declared the recognition of schismatics. Here’s a very good indicator: If a certain hierarch defends the schism, it means that this person isn’t free, he’s controlled by other forces. Today, the attitude to the schism determines the level of genuine freedom of a particular Church; its ability to make important decisions independently.
Hierarchs from throughout the Orthodox world have expressed the same view about Constantinople. Met. Isaiah of Tamasos of the Church of Cyprus gave an Metropolitan Isaiah of Tamassos, on All Aspects of the Ukrainian QuestionHis Eminence Metropolitan Isaiah of Tamassos and Orinis gave an interview to the Romfea Church news agency, which we have translated into English in three parts, frankly answering all the questions about his position regarding the actions of Constantinople, the West, and Moscow, and also commenting on the behavior of the Archbishop of Cyprus.
“>interview in 2021 in which he spoke about Constantinople being Constantinople is weaponized by Western powers against Russian Church, explains Cypriot Met. Isaiah of TamassosIn a new interview with Romfea, the hierarch of the Orthodox Church of Cyprus explains Constantinople’s historical fear of the Russian Church and how it is used for worldly purposes, as well as his own love and respect for both the Churches of Russia and Constantinople.”>weaponized by Western powers against the Russian Church. He Metropolitan Isaiah of Tamassos (Cyprus) addresses Ukraine and various moral issues“It is necessary to make serious incisions and reforms in the Church of Cyprus, to be able to make Christ recognizable again to the man of today,” the Metropolitan said.”>changed his view last year, however, with his hopes of becoming the next Archbishop of the Cypriot Church.
However, Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople insists that the creation of the schismatic “Orthodox Church of Ukraine” has nothing to do with geopolitics, although both Makary Maletich: Patriarch Bartholomew decided to grant autocephaly because he had U.S. supportIn a new interview with the Ukrainian outlet Channel 24, Makary Maletich states that were it not for the support of the U.S. along with Germany, France, and the UK, Pat. Bartholomew would never have dared to give the tomos.
“>OCU hierarchs and Ukrainian diplomat admits U.S.’s role in creating schismatic OCUThe United States considers the creation of the “Orthodox Church of Ukraine” (OCU) as its own achievement, acknowledges the former Ukrainian Ambassador to the U.S.”>politicians openly acknowledge the central role of politics in the matter.
The Patriarch made this assertion earlier this week in his speech to a conference about the war and Ukrainian autocephaly held in Athens, with the participation of hierarchs form the Churches of Alexandria and Greece.
In his view, “It was Russia who deepened the gap between Ukrainians and Russians, not the autocephaly of Ukraine that was given to the suffering Ukrainian people.”
The Church of Russia “must understand that the Ecumenical Patriarchate is the only guarantee for the unity of Orthodoxy. Without the Ecumenical Patriarchate, Orthodoxy will fall into the vortex of nationalisms,” the Patriarch said.
And responding to the widely held view that the Patriarchate of Constantinople has a papal self-understanding, Pat. Bartholomew stated that it’s the Russian Church that makes papal claims—which is why it doesn’t recognize the autocephaly of the Ukrainian schismatics, he believes.
Further, the primate of Constantinople called on those Local Churches that haven’t recognized the schismatics “to proceed with the recognition, showing in this way their support to the suffering Ukrainian people.”
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