Statement of the Holy Synod in connection with the infringement of the Patriarchate of Constantinople on the canonical territory of the Russian Church

The statement was adopted at the meeting of the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church on 15 October 2018 in Minsk.

With profound pain the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church took published 11 Oct 2018 the message of the Patriarchate of Constantinople about the decisions of the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Constantinople: on confirmation of the intention “to grant autocephaly of the Ukrainian Church”, the opening in Kiev “stavropigio” the Patriarch of Constantinople; on the “restoration to the Episcopal or priestly rank” leaders of the Ukrainian division and their followers and the “return of the faithful in their ecclesial communion”; “undo” the Cathedral letters of the Constantinople Patriarchate in 1686, relating to the transfer of the Kyiv Metropolitanate into the Moscow Patriarchate.

These lawless decisions of the Synod of the Church of Constantinople were adopted unilaterally, ignoring the appeals of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and the fullness of the Russian Orthodox Church and the fraternal local Orthodox Churches and their primates and bishops to the pan-Orthodox discussion.

Joining in fellowship with holdout split, and even more so excommunicated is tantamount to dodging the split and severely condemned by the Holy canons of the Church: “If… one of the bishops, presbyters, deacons or any of the clergy will be communicating with excommunicated from the communion, let him be himself outside of communion with the Church as producing confusion in the rank of the Church” (of Antioch of the Cathedral rule 2; Apostolic canons 10, 11).

The decision of the Patriarchate of Constantinople about the “restoration” canonical status and acceptance into the fellowship of the former Metropolitan Filaret Denisenko, excommunicated, ignored a series of sequential decisions of bishops ‘ Councils of the Russian Orthodox Church, the validity of which is unquestionable.

The decision of the Council of bishops of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Kharkiv on may 27, 1992, Metropolitan Filaret (Denysenko) for failure to comply with the oath given to them before the cross and the gospel at the previous Council of bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church promises was ousted from Kyiv Department and banned from serving.

The Council of bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church by a decision of 11 June 1992, confirmed the decision of the Kharkiv Council and a monster Filaret Denisenko of dignity, deprived of all degrees of the priesthood in the following charges: “the Cruel and the arrogant attitude of the subordinate clergy, dictate and blackmail (tit. 1. 7-8; Apostolic rule 27); making their behavior and personal life of temptation among believers (Matt. 18:7; I Ecumenical Council rule 3, of the sixth Ecumenical Council rule 5); perjury (the Apostolic rule 25); public defamation and blasphemy against the Council of bishops (the second Ecumenical Council rule 6); Commission of religious rites, including ordination, in the state of suspension (the Apostolic rule 28); the perpetration of a split in the Church (the Double Council rule 15)”. All ordinations made by Filaret in the prohibited state on may 27, 1992, and the imposed sanctions were declared invalid.

Despite repeated calls to repentance, after the deprivation of the rank of Archbishop Filaret Denisenko continued separatist activities, including within other local Churches. The definition of the Council of bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church, 1997, he was anathema.

Notwithstanding that decision was recognized by all local Orthodox churches, including the Church of Constantinople. In particular, his Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople on 26 August 1992 in response to the letter of his Holiness Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia Alexy II on the occasion of the deposition of Metropolitan of Kiev Filaret wrote: “Our Holy Great Church of Christ, recognizing the exceptional completeness on this question of competence Your most Holy Russian Church, the Synod decided to accept the above”.

In a letter to his Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew to Patriarch Alexy II, dated 7 April 1997 on anathematisation Filaret Denisenko stated: “after Receiving notice of the decision, we called it the hierarchy of our Ecumenical Patriarchate and asked for it in the future no ecclesiastical fellowship with the above-mentioned persons do not have.”

Now, after more than two decades, the Patriarchate of Constantinople for political reasons changed his position.

In its decision to acquit the leaders of the schism and to “legitimize” their hierarchy, the Holy Synod of the Church of Constantinople refers to a non – “canonical privileges of the Ecumenical Patriarch to accept the appeal of the bishops and clergy of all Autocephalous Churches.” These claims in the form in which they are now the Patriarch of Constantinople exercised, never had the support of the fullness of the Orthodox Church: they are without Foundation in the sacred canons and is in direct contravention, in particular, rule 15 of the Council of Antioch: “If any Bishop… will be judged from all the bishops of the region, and they are all under him utter a single sentence, such other bishops Yes is not condemned, but accept the decision of the bishops of the region remains solid” they are also refuted by the practice of the decisions of the Holy Ecumenical and local Councils and authoritative interpretations of the Byzantine canonists, and the new time.

So, John Zonara writes: “Constantinople [the Patriarch] is recognized by the judge is not even over all metropolitans, but only over his subordinates. For neither the metropolitans of Syria, nor Palestine, nor Phoenician, nor the Egyptian are not involved, involuntarily at his trial, but the Syrian subject to the judgment of the Patriarch of Antioch, the Palestinian Jerusalem, and suing the Egyptian Alexandria, which they rukopolagat and which is subordinated to”.

About the impossibility of making the communication convicted in another Local Church says 116 (118) the rule of Carthage: “Who, being excommunicated from the communion of the Church… break into overseas countries, in order to be accepted into the fellowship, he will be subjected to the eruption of the clergy”. The same thing is said in the canonical Epistle of the Cathedral to the Pope Celestino: “Those who are in his diocese, excommunicated from fellowship, nor are vosprinimala into the fellowship of thy Holy… whatever any case they have ends to their places.”

Venerable Nicodemus of the Holy mount in his “Pedalion”, which is the authoritative source of Church Canon law of the Church of Constantinople, interprets the 9th rule of IV Ecumenical Council, rejecting a false opinion about the right of Constantinople to the appeals from other Churches, “Constantinople, the Primate has no right to act in dioceses and regions of the other Patriarchs, and this rule gave him the right to take an appeal in any case in the Universal Church…” Listing a number of arguments in favor of this interpretation, referring to the practice of the decisions of the Ecumenical Councils, the monk Nikodim draws a conclusion: “Currently… of Constantinople is the Primate of the first, only and ultimate judge over the subordinate metropolitans — but not over those who obey the rest of the Patriarchs. Because, as we said, the last and universal judge of all Patriarchs is an Ecumenical Council and no other”. It follows from the above that the Synod of the Constantinople Church has no canonical rights to cancel the judgments passed by the Council of bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church.

Usurping the powers of the abolition of judicial and other decisions of other local Orthodox Churches — only one of the manifestations of the new false doctrine, proclaimed now the Church of Constantinople and attributing to the Patriarch of Constantinople the right of “first without equals” (primus sine paribus) with universal jurisdiction. “This vision of the Patriarchate of Constantinople its rights and powers comes into conflict with the centuries-old canonical tradition, which is based on the existence of the Russian Orthodox Church and other local Churches,” — warned the Council of bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church 2008 in the definition of “the unity of the Church.” In the same definition the Cathedral called the Church of Constantinople “until a pan-Orthodox consideration of the listed innovations to exercise discretion and refrain from steps that could blow up Orthodox unity. This particularly applies to the attempts to revise the canonical limits of the local Orthodox Churches.”

The act of 1686, confirming the presence of the Kyiv metropolis to the Moscow Patriarchate and signed by his Holiness Patriarch of Constantinople Dionysius IV and the Holy Synod of the Church of Constantinople, not subject to revision. The decision about his “opinion” canonically void. Otherwise, it would be possible annulment of any instrument defining the canonical territory and the status of the Local Church — regardless of its antiquity, authority, and Church recognition.

In the synodical letter, 1686 and other supporting documents there’s nothing said about the temporary nature of the transfer of the Kyiv Metropolitanate to the Moscow Patriarchate, nor of the fact that this act can be repealed. The attempt by the hierarchs of the Patriarchate of Constantinople for political and partisan types to reconsider this decision after more than three hundred years after it was made, contrary to the spirit of the Holy canons of the Orthodox Church, not allowing the possibility of revising the established and not contested for a long time the Church’s boundaries. Thus, rule 129 (133) of Carthage States: “If anyone drew… what a place to Catholic unity and for three years had signified in his conduct, and none thereof is not required from it, after let it not be signified from him wsystem if, moreover, in this triennium, there was a Bishop, is meant to recover, and remained silent.” And 17 of the fourth Ecumenical Council establishes a thirty-year Statute of limitations for a possible congregational disputes about membership even individual Church parishes: “the Parishes in each diocese… shall continue to remain under the authority of the bishops, the heads of them — and especially if in the course of thirty years they undoubtedly had them under its control and management.”

Yes, and as a possible annulment of the decision in force for three centuries? This would mean trying to read “like the former” future history of the development of Church life. The Patriarchate of Constantinople seemed not to notice that the Kiev Metropolitanate in 1686, on the return of which in its composition now claimed, had limits significantly differed from the modern borders of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, and covered only the lower part of the latter. Kiev, the metropolis of our days, as such, includes Kyiv city and several surrounding districts. The greatest part of the dioceses of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, especially in the East and South of the country, was founded and developed as part of the Autocephalous Russian Church, being the fruit of its centuries of missionary and pastoral activities. The current act of the Patriarchate of Constantinople is trying to steal what never belonged to him.

The act of 1686 marked the limit of a two hundred year period of forced separation in the long history of the Russian Church, which, despite the changing political circumstances, always aware of themselves as a whole. After the reunification of the Russian Church in 1686 for more than three centuries no one had any doubt that the Orthodox in Ukraine are the flock of the Russian Church, and not of the Patriarchate of Constantinople. And today, despite the pressure of external anti-clerical forces, this multi-million dollar congregation cherishes the unity of the Church of all Russia and faithful to her.

The attempt of the Patriarchate of Constantinople to decide the fate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church without her consent is anticanonically infringe on someone else’s ecclesiastical fiefdoms. Church rule: “Yes complied in the other areas and elsewhere in the dioceses, so that none bogolubskaya bishops stretched out their power to a foreign diocese… but not overstepped the rules of the fathers, but not creeping in under pretext of sacred office, the arrogance of worldly power, and may you never lose gradually and imperceptibly, the freedom granted to us by the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, the liberator of all men” (III Ecumenical Council rule 8). Conviction under this rule is subject to the decision of the Patriarchate of Constantinople about the establishment by agreement with the secular authorities of his “stavropigio” in Kiev without the knowledge and consent of the clergy of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

Hypocritically justifying the desire to restore unity of the Ukrainian Orthodoxy, the Patriarchate of Constantinople for its reckless and politically motivated decision making even greater separation and aggravates the suffering of the canonical Orthodox Church of Ukraine.

Acceptance into the fellowship of believers and anathematising in one Local Church to another person with all their ordained “bishops” and “clergy”, an encroachment on other people’s canonical fiefdoms, an attempt to disavow their own historical judgments and liabilities, — all this displays the Patriarchate of Constantinople beyond the canonical fields and, to our great sorrow, makes it impossible for us to continue the Eucharistic communion with his hierarchs, clergy and laity. Now continue to the refusal of the Patriarchate of Constantinople from taken anticanonically solutions for all of the clergy of the Russian Orthodox Church cannot concelebration with the clergymen of the Church of Constantinople, and for the laity — participate in the ordinances performed in her temples.

The transition of the bishops or clergy of the canonical Church to the dissenters or the entry with the latest in Eucharistic communion is the initial crime and is punishable by appropriate sanctions.

With sadness we remember the prophecy of our Lord Jesus Christ about the time of the seduction and the particular suffering of the Christians: And because of lawlessness, many love will grow cold (Matt. 24:12). With such a deep undermining of the foundations of inter-Orthodox relations and the total disregard of thousands of years of Church rules and canonical rights of the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church considers it its duty to act to protect the fundamental foundations of Orthodoxy, to protect the sacred tradition of the Church, substituted a new and alien to the teachings of the universal power of the first primates.

Call of the primates and Holy synods of the local Orthodox Churches to adequately assess the above anticanonically acts of the Patriarchate of Constantinople and the joint search for ways out of severe crisis, razbiralsya the body of the one Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.

We Express our full support to his Beatitude Metropolitan of Kiev and all Ukraine Onufry and the plenitude of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in particularly difficult times. Pray for the strengthening of its faithful in the courageous standing for truth and unity of the canonical Church in Ukraine.

Ask the archpastors, clergy, monastics and laity of the Russian Orthodox Church to intensify prayers for fellow brothers and sisters in Ukraine. The prayer of intercession of the Queen of Heaven, the Reverend fathers of the Kiev caves, venerable job of Pochaev, of the Holy new martyrs, Confessors and all the saints of the Church Russian peace be on all of us.

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