Patriarchate of Constantinople has committed unprecedented anti-canonical act—Russian Church

Moscow, October 12, 2018

Photo: AFP 2018 / Ozan Kose Photo: AFP 2018 / Ozan Kose

The Chairman of the Synodal Department for Relations Between the Church, Society, and Media, Vladimir Legoida has commented on the official statement made by the Patriarchate of Constantinople yesterday, calling the decisions of the Holy Synod of Constantinople unprecedented and anti-canonical, reports

The Synod resolved to remove the anathemas against Philaret Denisenko, the former Metropolitan of Kiev, and Makary Maletich, the respective heads of the non-canonical Kiev Patriarchate and Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church, enter into communion with their communities, and revoke the 1686 document that transferred the Kiev Metropolia to the Russian Orthodox Church, thereby declaring control over Kiev, which is canonically governed by His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine.

“The Patriarchate of Constantinople has committed an unprecedented and anti-canonical act, which is an attempt to destroy the foundation of the Orthodox canonical structure. There’s no other way to assess Constantinople’s statement on entering into canonical communion with schismatics and with a person excommunicated from the Church,” Legoida commented.

Patriarchal Press Secretary Fr. Alexander Volkov has voiced the same stance: “There is not a single precedent in world history for Constantinople to interfere so brazenly and aggressively in the affairs of another Orthodox Church.”

He also noted that the anathema against Philaret was accepted by all the Local Orthodox Churches, including Constantinople, calling the lifting of the anathemas and reinstatement of their communities the “legalization of schism.”

The Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church will give a proper assessment of this act at its next meeting on October 15 in Minsk, Legoida added.

The Department Chairman also noted that Constantinople’s appeal to canonical prerogatives to consider such appeals, from men who have been excommunicated and anathematized from the Church, is supported mainly only by Constantinople itself.

A source within the Greek Orthodox Church commented on the issue to RIA-Novosti, saying, “Philaret was excommunicated by the Russian Church for what he did… One mistake follows another. It seems that a schism is growing with these decisions of Bartholomew’s.”

He added that the anathemas were removed from Denisenko and Maletich to make them canonical bishops so that they can be given autocephaly, because the canonical Church in Ukraine will not accept autocephaly.

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