Moscow, October 14, 2019
The Bishops’ Council of the Greek Orthodox Church formally resolved to recognize the schismatic “Orthodox Church of Ukraine” at its extraordinary session on Saturday.
The Holy Synod of the Greek Church had previously recognized Patriarch Bartholomew’s right to grant autocephaly and empowered Abp. Ieronymos to guide the Greek Church to a decision. The Bishops’ Council, a broader body than the Holy Synod, consisting of every bishop of the Church, reaffirmed these Synodal decisions and accepted the Archbishop’s recommendation to recognize and enter into communion with the OCU.
The Holy Synod of the Russian Church will evaluate this decision of the Greek Church at its upcoming session, Archpriest Nikolai Balashov, the Deputy Chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department for External Church Relations, told Interfax-Religion.
“We will carefully study the decisions made. The Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church will assess them and their consequences for the Orthodox world and for inter-Church relations,” the Church representative said.
The next session will be held soon, sometime in the fall, he said.
Recall that the Russian Synod responded gradually to the incursions of the Patriarchate of Constantinople into its canonical territory last year. After Constantinople sent two Patriarchal Exarchs to Kiev in September to begin preparing to create the OCU, the Russian Synod resolved to stop commemorating Patriarch Bartholomew, but not to break communion.
Later, in October, when the Synod of Constantinople took it upon itself to unilaterally lift the canonical punishments imposed by the Russian Church upon the Ukrainian schismatics and to receive them in the clerical ranks they claimed for themselves, the Russian Synod resolved to fully break communion with Constantinople.
Speaking at a press conference after the Greek hierarchs’ decision on Saturday, Metropolitan Hierotheos (Vlachos), one of the most authoritative of the Greek hierarchs today, flippantly responded to a question about the Russian Church’s reaction, saying, “We do not think about reactions; we did our duty to ensure unity. Anyone who wants to create a schism takes the responsibility.”