Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk: the Decision to suspend a prayerful remembrance at the service of the Patriarch of Constantinople does not mean full Eucharistic communion


14 September 2018 at the end of an emergency meeting of the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church, whose members discussed the emergency situation connected with the illegal invasion of the Constantinople Patriarchate on the canonical territory of the Russian Orthodox Church, held a briefing for journalists, according to patriarhiei.

To the questions of media representatives were answered by the Chairman of the Department for external Church relations of the Moscow Patriarchate Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk. In his speech, the Archbishop reported that the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church took the decision to cease commemoration of Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople during the Liturgy in the Russian Orthodox Church. Also suspended will be a concelebration with the hierarchs of the Patriarchate of Constantinople and participation in all the institutions that preside, or being co-chaired by Constantinople. “This includes the Episcopal Assembly in the so-called Diaspora, theological dialogues,” said Metropolitan Hilarion.

According to Metropolitan Hilarion, the reasons which prompted the Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church to make such a decision, is that “the Patriarch of Constantinople illegally, contrary to the canons of the Church invaded the canonical territory of the Moscow Patriarchate by appointing two of his Exarch in Kyiv”.

The Hierarch also emphasized that his anticanonical act of the Patriarchate of Constantinople justifies a kind of historiosophia, which was refuted by the statement of the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church. Bishop, in particular, said:

“Historically, the Russian Orthodox Church for several centuries existed as a single Archdiocese with its center in Kiev. And even after the Metropolitan of Kiev moved to Vladimir and then to Moscow, they continued to be called Kyiv. In 1448 the Council of Russian bishops was elected Prelate of the ion, which became the first head of the Russian Orthodox Church elected without the consent of the Patriarchate of Constantinople. This happened not because the Russian Church wants to break communion with Constantinople, but because the Patriarch of Constantinople at that time was in Union with Rome, that is, the Orthodox Patriarch in Constantinople was not. From this point on has its Genesis Autocephalous Russian Orthodox Church.

Ten years later, in 1458, the former Patriarch of Constantinople Gregory Mamma, who took the Union and lived in Rome, was appointed to Kyiv Metropolitan of the Uniate Gregory the Bulgarian. And from that moment began the independent existence of the Kiev Department a part of the Russian Church, which lasted over two hundred years.

In 1686 there was a reunion of two parts of the Russian Orthodox Church of the Kyiv Metropolitanate again became part of the Russian Church now had the status of a Patriarchate recognized by the other Eastern Patriarchs. The joining of the Kyiv Metropolitanate into the Moscow Patriarchate was confirmed by the letter of the Ecumenical Patriarch Dionysius IV. In this literacy didn’t say anything about what time the joining of the Kyiv Metropolitanate into the Moscow Patriarchate. And for over 300 years, the status of the Kyivan Metropolitanate into the Moscow Patriarchy was not challenged.

Lately in order to justify their actions in the Ukraine, this status was challenged, and the Patriarch of Constantinople now says that the Ukrainian Church has always, it appears, was in the jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, which supposedly has the full right to unilaterally grant autocephaly to her. This position strongly disagree. Especially in 1993, was adopted by the pan-Orthodox decision on that in the future any autocephaly would be granted only with the approval of all the local Orthodox Churches. And from the local Orthodox Churches there is no approval of those actions that are now taking Constantinople in Ukraine.”

Metropolitan Hilarion recalled that in the early XX century, when they were arrested Patriarch Tikhon of Moscow and the Renovationists, goading the Church, demanded his deposition, the Patriarch of Constantinople, Gregory VII stood in their way. For about ten years, the representative of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Moscow Archimandrite Vasily (Dimopoulos) supported the Renovationists, he served in the Renovationist churches, and the Patriarch Gregory VII demanded that the Patriarchate was abolished, at least temporarily.

“We would not have to think about this page in the history of our relations with Constantinople, and if these sad events are not repeated today, said the Bishop. Almost every time the Russian Orthodox Church found themselves in difficult circumstances, instead of fraternal aid and solidarity we have received from the Patriarchate of Constantinople shocks in the back. In 20 years the Patriarchate of Constantinople unilaterally granted autocephaly to the Polish Church, established their structures on the territory of Estonia and Finland, though these countries were under the canonical jurisdiction of the Russian Orthodox Church”.

As further stressed Metropolitan Hilarion, the decision of the Holy Synod of the Russian Church on the suspension concelebration with the hierarchs of the Patriarchate of Constantinople and on termination of participation in the structures under the chairmanship of Constantinople was forced:

“We really wanted to avoid this, for many years tried to solve problems through dialogue. The last such attempt was Patriarch Kirill’s trip to Istanbul, where during a friendly and fraternal meeting, His Holiness presented the position of the Russian Orthodox Church and warned his Brother of Constantinople from those actions, which, unfortunately, occur. But as soon as the Patriarch moved from Istanbul, as we learned later, Patriarch Bartholomew gathered the Holy Synod, during the meeting it was decided not to take suggestions from our Church. Then Patriarch Bartholomew gathered a Synod of the hierarchy of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, where he read the reports about how we should act in Ukraine, which was followed by the appointment of the exarchs.

We reacted to the appointment of the exarchs already on 8 September, and warned that retaliatory measures will follow in the near future. Today we have gathered here to discuss them and formulate. The discussion was attended by all the members of the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church. His Beatitude Metropolitan of Kyiv Onufry, who for health reasons could not attend the meeting of Synod, participated in the discussion via Skype”.

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

— You’re talking about suspending a prayer of remembrance. It also does not mean the cessation of Eucharistic communion? That is, believers can still take communion together?

— The decision of the Holy Synod to suspend prayerful remembrance at the service of the Patriarch of Constantinople does not mean full Eucharistic communion. Those lay people who come to Athos or are in the churches of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, can they take communion. But we refuse concelebration with the hierarchs of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, since every time during the service they commemorate their Patriarch, and the commemoration, we stopped.

— That is, the Patriarch of Constantinople is no longer considered first among equals? It changes his place in the diptychs?

— During the Liturgy, which makes his Holiness Patriarch Kirill, the commemoration will begin immediately with the Patriarch of Alexandria, not Constantinople, as it was up to date.

— Tell, please, in Your opinion, why now you decided to do this and is there any hope that we can still change something, about something to agree, or is it already the final decision?

— I believe that the decision to send exarchs taken to Kiev right now because Constantinople is in a hurry to complete the process of granting autocephaly, while the power is the current President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko, who actively supports it. I do not think, of course, that all this finally closes the door to dialogue, but today’s decision is a signal to the Patriarchate of Constantinople, that if such actions continue, we will be forced to break off the Eucharistic communion.

The Patriarchate of Constantinople has positioned itself as a leader of 300 million Orthodox population of the planet, so talking about him the media. But after Eucharistic communion, at least half of that 300 million people will no longer even recognize him as the first among equals.

— Tell, please, if the Holy Synod of the fear of a negative scenario of development of events in Ukraine in connection with possible Declaration of autocephaly? In particular, for example, capture shrines of the Russian Orthodox Church, Kiev-Pechersk Lavra and so on?

We can’t rule it out, for the capture of churches in the Ukraine are already taking place, and about 50 churches of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church seized by the schismatics. If this Autocephalous project will continue if the split will be legitimized, then we can predict the most dire consequences for the Ukrainian Church, for these massacres are likely to continue. The dissenters now claim that the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra should be transferred to the so-called unified Ukrainian local Church, and they do not hide their claims to the shrines, monasteries and temples which are now in the jurisdiction of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

— Lord, will there be some kind of universal prayer for healing the schism in Ukraine?

— We made the decision that all churches of the Russian Orthodox Church for the divine Liturgy to offer prayers about the unity of Holy Orthodoxy. We formulated the prayer of the petition, who also today will be published.

We also appealed in its statement to the primates, the heads of the local Orthodox Churches, urging them to initiate a pan-Orthodox discussion of the ecclesiastical situation in Ukraine. We are deeply convinced that, if this issue will be resolved not unilaterally by the Patriarchate of Constantinople, and in a fraternal discussion of the local Orthodox Churches can be found a solution that and all will calm and all will reconcile and will fully heal the schism.

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