Ukrainian Church crisis: the Eucharistic communion – what’s next

A new phase of the crisis around the question of Ukrainian autocephaly.

  • Constantinople “canonically restored” the head of the “Kiev Patriarchate” – what’s going on
  • Press Secretary of the Patriarch: Fanar legalizes split
  • Statement of the Holy Synod in connection with the infringement of the Patriarchate of Constantinople on the canonical territory of the Russian Church

The Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church took the decision to stop Eucharistic communion with the Patriarchate of Constantinople.

The Statement particularly says: “the Adoption 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”.

“From now on until 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,” — stated in the document.

The Patriarchate of Constantinople expressed his intention to unilaterally grant autocephaly of the Orthodox Church in Ukraine and was appointed its Exarch. After this, the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church has expressed strong protest against these actions of the Patriarchate of Constantinople and adopted the decision on suspension of concelebrating with the hierarchs of the Patriarchate of Constantinople. A similar decision was taken and the Synod.

The Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia Kirill urged the heads of the Orthodox Churches to discuss the situation in Ukraine. Unilateral and anticanonically actions of Constantinople was condemned by almost all heads of local Churches.

October 11 the Holy Synod of the KP decided to remove the anathema from the heads of the two non-canonical churches in Ukraine — Filaret of the “Kiev Patriarchate” and Makarii of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Church and announced the desire to return to the Kyiv Metropolitanate to the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, by repealing “the legal obligation of the Synodal letter in 1686, which provided the right of Moscow Patriarch to appoint Metropolitan of Kiev”.

The Eucharistic communion is a very common way to Express another protest

Doctor of legal Sciences, specialist in Canon law and byzantinistic Alexey Velichko

– How would you comment on the Eucharistic communion between our Churches?

– My opinion will not be original here. Let’s start simple. Whether our response is adequate to the machinations of Constantinople? Frankly, I do not see in it no cruelty, no integrity, and most importantly, no prospects. When thinking pragmatically and to compare our behaviour with the actions of Patriarch Bartholomew, what it can do – obviously. It can take a Tomos. Or, as today openly say, put together with the Romanian Patriarch Daniel, the question of what the Moldovan Orthodox Church is under the omophorion of the Patriarch of Moscow and joins Romania. And so on and so forth. Stock ideas from Patriarch Bartholomew is extremely large. What the Russian Orthodox Church can oppose? What do we have? Maybe we can raise the Greeks of America, this two millionth flock, and offer them budding from Constantinople?…

I honestly do not understand today’s decision of the Synod. What is the prospect of this response?

Well, stop Eucharistic communion. It’s horrible, it’s bad, very bad. But what does that mean? This means that now I can not partake in Constantinople, and the Constantinople Greek may not receive communion in Moscow. But there is another mount Athos, which is under the omophorion of the Patriarch of Constantinople. So now, upon his arrival on mount Athos, I won’t be able to partake? Honestly, I was expecting today another response to the actions of the Patriarchate of Constantinople. I was waiting for an answer, which is set to not on military action, and peace and tradeoffs. I am discouraged by the decision of the Holy Synod.

– We all remember that in 1996 we had already severed Eucharistic communion with the Greeks over Estonia, but then reconciled.

– Really, it was. But Estonia and Ukraine – the values are not equal. The Estonian territory in a small degree susceptible to Orthodoxy. There prevail Protestants. Unlike Ukraine, which is traditionally Orthodox territory. You’re right, the Eucharistic communion is a very common method of different local Churches to Express another note of protest. As usual, it often ends up that the communication is restored. But not always. In 1054 the two Churches – Roman and Constantinople – was interrupted by the Eucharistic communion. In the end this led to the split of a single Universal Church. To talk – “once again ceased communication. So what?” – it is strange. May be “so what”, and maybe “not well”. Unfortunately, it can lead, God forbid, to more tragic events.

It is already known that Alexandria and Antioch Churches had agreed to meet at the pan-Orthodox meeting and fully discuss the situation. It seems to me that we had to wait for this meeting to fully discuss and only then decide on the Eucharistic communion.

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