Nairobi, Kenya, January 23, 2020
On January 17, Archbishop Makarios of Nairobi and Exarch of All Kenya issued a pastoral letter in response to the African priests who voiced their concerns about the ongoing Ukrainian Church crisis and the Patriarch of Alexandria’s recognition of and communion with the Ukrainian schismatics.
In his letter, the Archbishop warns that those who do not respect the canonical boundaries of the Patriarchate of Alexandria will forfeit their salvation.
The open letter signed by 27 priests from Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia was published by OrthoChristian on December 17. In it, the priests note their surprise at Patriarch Theodoros’ sudden change of mind regarding the Ukrainian schismatics, whom he previously called to repentance. They also note that his decision jeopardizes the Patriarchate’s good relations with the Russian Church, and that it was made without consulting the African clergy and faithful who make up the Patriarchate.
“We would like to express our opinion and say that we do not agree with the above decision… We regret the unexpected decision of the Patriarch of Alexandria and we would like to see it revised,” the priests wrote.
It was later reported that the priests faced the threat of sanctions from their hierarchs, including the cutting off of their salaries, suspension in their priestly ministries, and excommunication, and that at least some of them had already been suspended for serving for voicing their opinion.
In his pastoral letter from January 17, Abp. Makarios emphasizes that the Patriarchate of Alexandria is the only canonical Church in Africa, and that “any other way of doing mission in Africa will always be considered as outside the set boundaries of the church.”
“It is so sad to think of anyone claiming to be Orthodox doing any mission work in our continent outside the set canonical boundaries of the church. Such personalities and those who follow them shall unfortunately loose [sic] the church as their Mother, as well as God as their Father, and considering there is no salvation outside the church, they shall automatically loose [sic] their salvation,” the Archbishop writes.
Noting that several priests in his jurisdiction “have fallen prey of the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine,” Abp. Makarios calls on his clergy to stay out of “unnecessary” Church and national politics.
He also notes that all clergy visiting from foreign countries may do so only with the blessing of the local ruling hierarch, and that only the Patriarch of Alexandria is to be commemorated when serving with such foreign clergy.
Abp. Makarios’ full letter can be read below: