Moscow, December 20, 2019
The Holy Synod of the Russian Church will evaluate and respond to the recent actions of Patriarch Theodoros of Alexandria at its upcoming session, Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev), the Chairman of the Russian Church’s Department for External Church Relations, said in a recent lecture to students of the Moscow Theological Academy and Seminary, reports the site of the Russian Church.
“At the next meeting of the Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church, a decision will be made on our reaction to the actions of the Patriarch of Alexandria,” the Metropolitan said. “I cannot anticipate future decisions, as they are always the result of the free discussion of the members of the Holy Synod.”
On November 8, Pat. Theodoros commemorated Epiphany Dumenko, the schismatic Ukrainian primate, during the Divine Liturgy, thus announcing his recognition of the schismatic “Orthodox Church of Ukraine.”
It is noteworthy that Pat. Theodoros made the decision to recognize the schismatics on his own, without a vote from his hierarchs: “I would like to note that the actions of the primate of the Alexandria Orthodox Church were not based on the conciliar expressed will of its episcopate—it was a personal decision. There was no Bishops’ Council, no Synod meeting—Pat. Theodoros simply declared that he recognized the actions of the Ecumenical Patriarch and united himself with his decision.”
The Patriarch explained that he made the decision not following an official vote, but after private discussions with the hierarchs of the Patriarchate of Alexandria. He also later said that he recognized the schismatics as a show of respect for Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople.
Met. Hilarion also explained the Russian Church’s attitude towards the Greek Church:
When this topic was discussed at the Bishops’ Council of the Greek Church, no vote was allowed on this issue—neither secret nor open. It was simply stated that this Church joined the decision of Patriarch Bartholomew. Part of the episcopate of the Church of Greece openly declared its non-recognition of the schismatics. Therefore, when we reacted to the decision of the Greek Church, we said that we maintain Eucharistic communion with all its hierarchs, who will not serve with schismatics and will not recognize the schism in one form or another.
“Some of our Greek brothers ask us: “Why did you break off communion with Constantinople, because you closed the door to dialogue,” Met. Hilarion said.
“We did not do this, but only followed the Church canons that forbid Eucharistic communion with those who enter into communion with schismatics. How else could we react? Could we have remained in communion with Constantinople when it invaded the canonical limits of our Church?” the DECR head asked.
The Holy Synod of the canonical Ukrainian Church also recently explained why it could not remain in communion with those who had active communion with schismatics.