Statement of the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church in connection with the illegal invasion of the Constantinople Patriarchate on the canonical territory of the Russian Orthodox Church


The statement was adopted at the extraordinary session of the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church on 14 September 2018 (journal No. 69).

The Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church with deep regret and sorrow the Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church of Constantinople on the appointment of their “exarchs” in Kiev. This decision was made without the consent of the Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church and his Beatitude Metropolitan of Kyiv and all Ukraine Onuphrius is the only canonical head of the Orthodox Church in Ukraine. It is a gross violation of Church law, the invasion of one Local Church on the territory of another. Moreover, the Patriarchate of Constantinople positions the appointment of “exarchs” as a stage in the implementation of the plan of granting “autocephaly” to Ukraine, which, according to his statements, is irreversible and will be completed.

In an effort to substantiate the claims of the Constantinople see, on the resumption of jurisdiction over the Kyivan Metropolitanate, the representatives Fanara claim that the Kievan Metropolitanate as if never transferred to the jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate. Such allegations are untrue and completely contrary to historical facts.

The first Department of the Russian Orthodox Church, Metropolitan of Kiev, for centuries was a whole with it, regardless of political and historical adversities, sometimes rastrogavshis the unity of the Russian Church. The Patriarchate of Constantinople, in the jurisdiction which initially included the Russian Orthodox Church until the middle of the XV century have consistently upheld its unity, which subsequently was reflected in the titles of Kiev metropolitans — “all Russia”. And even after the actual transfer of the Patriarchal chair from Kiev to Vladimir and then to Moscow Metropolitan of all Russia continued to be known as Kiev.

A temporary division of a single Metropolitan of all Russia into two parts due to the tragic consequences of Ferrara-Florence Cathedral and the start of a Union with Rome that the Church of Constantinople was initially taken, and the Russian Church immediately rejected. In 1448 the Council of bishops of the Russian Church without the blessing of the Patriarch of Constantinople, at that time staying in the Union, put Metropolitan St. Jonah. Since that time, the Russian Orthodox Church traces its Autocephalous existence. However, ten years later, in 1458, the former Patriarch of Constantinople Gregory Mamma, who was in the Union and staying in Rome, was ordained for Kyiv independent of the Metropolitan of the Uniate Gregory the Bulgarian, subjecting the territory, now comprising part of the Ukraine, Poland, Lithuania, Belarus, and Russia.

The decision of the Constantinople Cathedral in 1593 with the participation of all four Eastern Patriarchs, the Metropolitan of Moscow was elevated to the status of Patriarchate. The Patriarchate unites all the Russian land, as evidenced by a letter of the Patriarch of Constantinople Paisius, Patriarch of Moscow Nikon from 1654, in which the latter referred to as the “Patriarch of Moscow, the great and little Russia”.

Reuniting of the Kiev Metropolitan see with the Russian Church occurred in 1686. This was published the act signed by the Patriarch Dionysius IV of Constantinople and his Synod. The document is not a word about the temporary nature of the transfer to the metropolis of what is now wrongly say the bishops of Constantinople. No claims on the temporary transfer of the Kyiv Metropolitanate and in the texts of the other two letters of the Patriarch Dionysius, from 1686 the name of the Moscow princes, and in the name of the Metropolitan of Kiev. On the contrary, in the letter of Dionysius, Patriarch of Moscow tsars 1686 is said about the subordination of the Kievan Metropolitan to the Patriarch of Moscow Joachim and his successors, “who now and it the future, Yes poznavat oldest and predstoyaschih time things of the Patriarch of Moscow, like him hertoniemi”. The interpretation of the representatives of the Church of Constantinople meaning of these documents in 1686 did not find any justification in their texts.

Prior to the twentieth century none of the Local Orthodox Church, including Constantinople, did not challenge the jurisdiction of the Russian Church over the Kiev Metropolitanate. The first attempt to challenge the jurisdiction associated with the provision of the Constantinople Patriarchate of the autocephaly of the Polish Orthodox Church, which had at that time an Autonomous status within the Russian Orthodox Church. In the breakaway Russian Church the Tomos of autocephaly of the Polish Church 1924 the Patriarchate of Constantinople, without any justification, said: “the Initial fall from our Throne of the Kyivan Metropolitanate and dependent Orthodox Churches of Lithuania and Poland and join them to the Holy Church of Moscow was committed not in accordance with the canonical regulations”.

Unfortunately, this is just one of the facts of the invasion of the Patriarchate of Constantinople from the canonical Russian Church in the 1920s and 1930s. At a time when the Russian Church was subjected to unprecedented cruelty of the atheistic persecution, the Patriarchate of Constantinople, without its knowledge and consent of the non-canonical has taken steps in relation to included in its composition of Autonomous Churches in the territory of the new States formed on the territory of the former Russian Empire: in 1923 transformed the Autonomous Church in Estonia and Finland in our own metropolis, in 1924, granted autocephaly to the Polish Orthodox Церкви1, in 1936, declared its jurisdiction in Latvia. In addition, in 1931, Constantinople extended its jurisdiction of the Russian emigre parishes in Western Europe without the consent of the Russian Orthodox Church, converting them into their own temporary Exarchate.

Especially ugly was part of the Patriarchate of Constantinople in an attempt to depose the Holy Hierarch and Confessor of Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia Tikhon, canonically elected in 1917. These attempts have taken the atheistic government in the 1920-ies, artificially creating in the Russian Church the revisionist, modernist split to undermine the authority of the Orthodox Church among the faithful, the “Sovietization” of the Church and its gradual destruction.

In the 1920s the Renovationists years actively contributed to the arrests of the Orthodox episcopate and clergy, wrote the denunciations and captured their temples. The Patriarch of Constantinople Gregory VII openly supported the Renovationists. Its official representative in Moscow Archimandrite Vasily (Dimopoulos) attended the Renovationist pseudo-churches, and in 1924 by the Patriarch Gregory appealed to the Saint Tikhon’s call to renounce Patriarchy.

In the same 1924 the Renovationists had published extracts from the minutes of the meetings of the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, received from Archimandrite Vasily (Dimopoulos). According to the statement, dated may 6, 1924, Patriarch Gregory VII “at the invitation from the Church circles of the Russian population” accepted proposed “business appeasement occurred in recent years in the local brethren Church of unrest and disagreement, appointed for this special Patriarchal Commission.” Mentioned in the protocols “Church circles of the Russian population” was represented by no means the martyrdom of the Russian Church, then preterpevaet brutal persecution by the godless power, and schismatic groups, the government cooperated and actively supported organized its persecution of the Holy Patriarch Tikhon.

About the reasons for which the Church of Constantinople supported the Renovationist schism, taking in the fight with the Russian Church way of the Communist regime, openly said the same Archimandrite Vasily (Dimopoulos) in his address on behalf of “all of the Constantinople proletariat,” addressed to one of the highest ranks of the godless authorities: “after Defeating his enemies, defeating all obstacles, firmly established, Soviet Russia can now respond to the invitation of the proletariat of the Middle East, sympathetic to her, and the more to win. In Your hands… to make the name of Soviet Russia even more popular in the East than it was previously, and I very much would You do the Patriarchate of Constantinople the great service as a strong and sturdy government of a powerful country, especially the Ecumenical Patriarch, recognized in the East, the head of all Orthodox people, clearly showed by their actions the location to the Soviet government, which he recognized.” In another letter the same Soviet official Archimandrite Vasily explained what “service” he has in mind — the return of the building, which belonged to the Constantinople metochion in Moscow, the income from which was annually transferred to the Patriarchate of Constantinople.

Having learned about the decision of the Constantinople to send the “Patriarchal Commission” within the Russian Church, it is the only legitimate Head of the all-Russian Patriarch Tikhon expressed strong protest in connection with non-canonical actions of his brother. His words, spoken nearly a hundred years ago, valid in our day: “We have been embarrassed and surprised that the representative of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the head of the Church of Constantinople, without any prior communication with Us as the legitimate representative and head of the whole Russian Orthodox Church, interfere in the internal life and Affairs of the Autocephalous Russian Church… Any parcel of any Commission without intercourse with Me, as the only lawful and Orthodox first Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church, without My knowledge are not legitimate, will not be accepted by the Russian Orthodox people and make not calm and even greater confusion and division in the life of the already long-suffering Russian Orthodox Church.” The circumstances of the time prevented the departure of the Commission in Moscow. Her arrival would mean not just the intervention, but direct intervention in the Affairs of Russian Orthodox Church, what takes place in the present moment.

The price of the blood of many thousands of new martyrs of the Russian Church survived in those years, trying to cover love this sad page in its relations with the Constantinople Church. However, in the 1990-ies, during the period of the new tests of the Russian Church, associated with the deep geopolitical upheavals, non-brotherly behavior of the Church of Constantinople again fully proved themselves.

In particular, despite the fact that in 1978, the Patriarch of Constantinople, Demetrius declared invalid Tomos of 1923 for a transfer to the jurisdiction of Constantinople, the Estonian Orthodox Church, in 1996 the Patriarchate of Constantinople anticanonically extended its jurisdiction in Estonia, in connection with which the Moscow Patriarchate was forced to temporarily break up with him the Eucharistic communion.

In the same period, were the first attempts of the Patriarchate of Constantinople to interfere in Ukrainian Church Affairs. In 1995, the jurisdiction of Constantinople were adopted by the Ukrainian separatist communities in the United States and the Diaspora. In the same year, Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople in writing made a promise to the Patriarch Alexy that these communities will not be “cooperate or fellowship with other Ukrainian schismatic groups”.

The assurance that representatives of the Ukrainian episcopate of the Patriarchate of Constantinople will not engage to serve with the dissenters, was not completed. The Patriarchate of Constantinople had failed to take steps to strengthen their canonical consciousness and they were embroiled in anticanonically the process of legalization of a split in Ukraine by creating a parallel Church structure and granted it Autocephalous status.

Position on the question of autocephaly, now voiced by the Patriarchate of Constantinople, completely contrary to the agreed position of all the local Orthodox Churches, the result of complex discussions in preparation for the Holy and Great Council and recorded in the document “Autocephaly and the way of its proclamation” that was signed by representatives of all the local Churches, including the Church of Constantinople.

In the absence of a formal request for autocephaly on the part of bishops of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Bartholomew took into consideration the request coming from the Ukrainian government and the dissenters, which completely contradicts his own position, which he until recently occupied, and which has repeatedly stated, including in public. In particular, in January 2001, in an interview with the Greek newspaper “NEA Ellada” he said, “Autocephaly and autonomy is granted to the whole Church by the decision of the Ecumenical Council. Because for various reasons, impossible the convocation of the Ecumenical Council, Ecumenical Patriarchate, as the coordinator of all the Orthodox Churches, gives the autocephaly, or autonomy, on the condition that they will approve of.”

Over the past unilateral actions and statements of Patriarch Bartholomew are alien to the Orthodox ecclesiological views. Recently, speaking before a meeting of hierarchs of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, Patriarch Bartholomew argued that “Christianity cannot exist without the Ecumenical Patriarchate” that “for Orthodoxy, the Ecumenical Patriarchate is the leaven that “leaveneth the whole lump” (Gal. 5:9) the Church and history”. These statements are difficult to evaluate, as an attempt to rebuild the Orthodox ecclesiology on the Roman Catholic model.

The particular tribulation caused in the Russian Orthodox Church, the recent decision of the Holy Synod of the Church of Constantinople about the permissibility of remarriage for clergy. This decision is a violation of the Holy canons (17 rules of the Holy Apostle, 3 rule trullan Cathedral, 1 Cathedral, rules of Neocaesarea, 12 rules of St. Basil the Great), flouts pan-Orthodox consent and is actually a rejection of the outcome of the Cretan Cathedral of 2016, the recognition of which the Patriarchate of Constantinople as actively seeking from the other local Churches.

In trying to assert their non-existent and never existed authority in the Orthodox Church, the Patriarchate of Constantinople is currently intervenes in the life of the Church in Ukraine. In their statements, the bishops of the Church of Constantinople allowed to call “anticanonical” Metropolitan of Kiev and all Ukraine Onuphrius, on the grounds that he not remembers the Patriarch of Constantinople. Meanwhile, earlier at the Meeting of the primates of the local Churches in Chambesy in January 2016, the Patriarch, Bartholomew, publicly called Metropolitan Onufry the Primate of the only canonical Orthodox Church in Ukraine. Then the Primate of the Church of Constantinople made a promise that neither during the Cretan Cathedral, or after him will be taken no efforts to legalize the split, or unilaterally to provide someone autocephaly.

I regret to have to say that the promise is broken now. Unilateral, anticanonical steps of the Throne of Constantinople on the territory of Ukraine, performed with complete disregard of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church are the direct support of the Ukrainian division. Among the multimillion flock of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church was extremely tempted by the fact that the Patriarchate of Constantinople, believing themselves the Mother Church for the Ukrainian Church, gives his daughter a stone instead of bread and a snake instead of a fish (LK. 11:11).

Deep concern of the Russian Orthodox Church erroneous and distorted representation of the Church of Constantinople about the events in Ukraine was personally conveyed by the Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia Kirill to Patriarch Bartholomew on August 31, 2018 However, as subsequent events showed, the voice of the Russian Church were not heard and within a week after the meeting, the Patriarchate of Constantinople has published anticanonically the decision on granting to Kiev of their “exarchs”.

In a critical situation, when the Constantinople side practically refused to resolve the issue through dialogue, the Moscow Patriarchate is forced to suspend prayerful remembrance of Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople at the service and with deep regret to suspend the concelebration with the hierarchs of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, and to terminate the participation of the Russian Orthodox Church in the Episcopal assemblies, as well as in theological dialogue, multilateral commissions and all other structures, where preside or co-chair representatives of the Patriarchate of Constantinople.

If you continue to anticanonically activities of the Patriarchate of Constantinople on the territory of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church we will be forced to break off the Eucharistic communion with the Patriarchate of Constantinople. The entire responsibility for the tragic consequences of this separation will fall personally on Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople and the bishops who supported him.

Aware that what is happening is a danger to the entire world of Orthodoxy, turning in this hour of need for support to local Autocephalous Churches, urge the primates imbued with an understanding of our common responsibility for the fate of the world Orthodoxy and to initiate fraternal pan-Orthodox discussion of the ecclesiastical situation in Ukraine.

Turning to the fullness of the Russian Orthodox Church with a call to fervent prayer about preserving the unity of Holy Orthodoxy.

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1 — Driven by a sincere desire to maintain Orthodoxy in the minority and sometimes in a rather difficult situation, the Moscow Patriarchate has granted in 1948, the law of the Autocephalous Orthodox Church in Poland and confirmed the Autonomous status of the Orthodox Church in Finland, provided his Holiness Patriarch Tikhon in 1921, agreed in 1957 to consign to oblivion all the canonical disputes and misunderstandings between the Finnish Orthodox Church and the Russian Orthodox Church to recognize the Finnish Archdiocese mere status and to transfer to it the jurisdiction of the monastery of new Valamo, after which it was restored prayerful and canonical communion.

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