Moscow, December 24, 2018
The Russian Orthodox Church is ready to dialogue with the Patriarchate of Constantinople, but not to reject the truth, Vladimir Legoida, the head of the Synodal Department for Relations with Society and the Media, said in a recent interview with Russia Today.
As Legoida explained, the Russian Orthodox Church is “extremely concerned about the situation in Ukraine in various directions.”
“As for relations with Constantinople, you have to understand: A Christian has no right to think about any point of no return, in the sense that we are always ready for a dialogue, but this dialogue cannot mean a rejection of the truth,” the Synodal head explained.
He also noted that the Russian Church’s position on Ukraine is the same as that of the entire Orthodox world, including that of the Patriarchate of Constantinople up until April, when the latest stage in the Ukrainian autocephaly story began with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko’s appeal to Constantinople.
For example, on August 17, 2014, when His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine was enthroned as the primate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, a congratulatory letter from Patriarch Bartholomew to “the lawful and canonical 122nd Metropolitan of Kiev Onuphry, recognized by all Local Churches.”
However, Pat. Bartholomew has since declared that Met. Onuphry holds his position and title uncanonically. It has yet to be clarified if Pat. Bartholomew has changed his mind, or if his 2014 congratulations were insincere.
“It’s not a question of us reexamining our position or some compromise—there’s no question of that. We’re ready to talk, but for that Constantinople has to enter into the dialogue. Right now we just have non-overlapping monologues. We’re ready, but the ball’s not in our court. We need some kind of appropriate response,” Legoida explained.
The Russian Church has been attempting to hold a constructive dialogue with Constantinople about the Ukraine issue for months, and numerous Synods, primates, and hierarchs from around the Orthodox have called for a pan-Orthodox council on the matter, or at the least for Moscow and Constantinople to work together, but Constantinople has consistently refused to hear these calls.
Already in September, Legoida commented: “What is happening now is a monologue of the Constantinople Patriarchate, and the Russian Orthodox Church’s efforts to prevent what may turn out to be irreparable are to no avail so far.”
His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia traveled to Constantinople on August 31 to meet with Pat. Bartholomew, but that meeting yielded no results. During the discussion, Pat. Kirill proposed holding a meeting of scholars and hierarchs to discuss the historical documents regarding the Kiev Metropolitanate’s move into the Moscow Patriarchate in 1686, but Pat. Bartholomew was unwilling to engage in such a dialogue.
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