Metropolitan Hilarion: It was a conversation from heart to heart


31 August 2018 at the meeting with journalists, which took place at the Department for external Church relations of the Moscow Patriarchate, the DECR Chairman, Metropolitan Hilarion spoke about the meeting of the primates of Constantinople and Russian Orthodox Churches, according to Patriarchy. The meeting was held in the building of the Patriarchate of Constantinople in the Fanar district of Istanbul.

According to Metropolitan Hilarion, Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia Kirill arrived at Fanar, venerated the shrines of the Patriarchal Cathedral of St. George, including the relics of the Holy hierarchs Basil the Great, Gregory the theologian and John Chrysostom. In the building of the Patriarchate, the Primate of the Russian Church greeted his Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew. The first part of the meeting has a formal format, it was attended by all the members of the Synod of the Patriarchate of Constantinople. Sounded the greeting from his Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew, his Holiness Kirill said a short reply. Then two of the Primate retired to the office of Patriarch Bartholomew, where he held a confidential communication with eye to eye. During this interview were: on the part of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, Metropolitan Emmanuel of France, from the Moscow Patriarchate, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk.

“The conversation lasted a total of about two and a half hours. She was very Frank, very cordial; it really was a conversation from heart to heart,” he said.

Bishop Hilarion reminded that Patriarch Bartholomew and Patriarch Kirill are familiar with 1977 and have a very long, rich history of personal relationships; even before his election to the Patriarchal service they worked hard together to reach consensus on a variety of topics of pan-Orthodox agenda.

“This meeting was important, first of all, to strengthen the personal relationship between the two Patriarchs and, of course, to strengthen bilateral relations between our two churches, testified to the Archbishop. The sides touched upon a wide range of topics, including those that are on the agenda of bilateral relations and issues of pan-Orthodox unity. The conversation began in a very sincere atmosphere, and ended very amicably, Patriarchs exchanged gifts.” Metropolitan Hilarion expressed hope that the meeting will become another milestone in the already long history of bilateral relations between the two churches.

The chair of the Department for external Church relations, answered questions from the media.

— Lord, has there been any discussion between the Patriarchs of the Church situation in Ukraine? And what conclusion came the primates of the two Churches?

— I don’t think I should have the right to disclose now the content of the conversation the two Patriarchs, as if they wanted this interview had an open format, they would have made a statement to the press. This has not happened, the conversation was closed, but it was a brotherly talk.

Of course, some media, especially in Ukraine, very agitated, they begin to publish some information about the meeting. But I think that we will comment on its content only if the content of the conversation between the two heads begin to comment on the officials of the Patriarchate of Constantinople. Such persons only two: this Patriarch Bartholomew and Metropolitan Emmanuel, who was present at the meeting; if anyone else will comment, then most likely, it’s just speculation. Someone might want now to wishful thinking, but I think we have a very responsible approach to such meetings and to best protect our interchurch relations from any unwarranted speculation.

— According to reports in the Greek media, Metropolitan Emmanuel still commented on the meeting of the primates of Constantinople and Russian Orthodox Churches. He said that Patriarch Kirill told about the situation with autocephaly in Ukraine. It really was a comment from Constantinople, whether the given statement is true?

— I would like to draw your attention to the statement of Metropolitan Emmanuel, heard today in Greek media, which States that the Constantinople Patriarchate will not attempt to heal the existing schism by creating another split. I think that this is a very sober position.

Of course, the Church of Constantinople, and the Russian Orthodox Church has its own position on various issues. This position we have never hidden, it’s published. The Patriarchate of Constantinople also published its position. That is nothing new we may be to each other could not say. But it is very important that this meeting gave the opportunity to share information, to synchronise watches. Very often some party obtains your information, the other party owns the other information, and such meetings give the opportunity for the same thread to Express different points of view and come — immediately or subsequently — to a common denominator.

Today often heard the question, did they take at this meeting some decisions. I would like to note: two of the Patriarch can’t go out and just make some decisions for their Churches, because each Orthodox Church is governed by the Cathedral. At the head of the Church is the Council of bishops, and in the period between the councils of the Church is governed by a Holy Synod. Each Patriarch representing his Church, speaks from her face, but decisions are not offstage, and the Synods of the respective Churches.

Held today, the conversation may lead to certain decisions of synods of the Orthodox Church of Constantinople and the Russian Orthodox Church, but until these decisions too early. Most importantly, we had a very fruitful exchange of views and, once again, from the beginning to the end of the conversation was very sincere and brotherly character. We left Constantinople with a very light feeling and very good mood.

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