Constantinople, October 25, 2018
In 1997, the Bishops’ Council of the Russian Orthodox Church decided to place an anathema against Philaret Denisenko, the former Metropolitan of Kiev.
Philaret Denisenko is well-known as the leader of the schismatic “Kiev Patriarchate.” He was defrocked in 1992 for various charges brought against him by the hierarchs of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, and in 1994 he was warned that if he continued his schismatic activity and continued to present himself as a clergyman he would be anathematized, which occurred three years later at the Bishops’ Council of the Russian Orthodox Church.
The relevant conciliar documents are available here.
After Denisenko was defrocked in 1992, His Holiness Patriarch Alexei II of Moscow sent a letter to the primates of the other autocephalous Local Churches to inform them of this decision. In an August 26, 1992 letter, His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew responded to Pat. Alexei that he accepted the Moscow Patriarchate’s right to rule on this matter, assuring him that “our Holy Great Church of Christ, recognizing the fullness of the Russian Orthodox Church’s exclusive competence on this issue, synodally accepts the decisions regarding the one in question, not desiring to bring any trouble to Your Church.”
Pat. Bartholomew’s 1992 letter was recently posted by Romfea. The full English translation is given in the above-linked article.
Moreover, Denisenko had appealed at that time to Pat. Bartholomew and the other Orthodox primates to lift the ecclesiastical sanctions against him. This appeal was also published in the June 1992 issue of the “Kiev Patriarchate’s” Orthodox Herald. As can be seen from Pat. Bartholomew’s August 1992 letter to Pat. Alexei, the Ecumenical Throne did not accept this appeal.
After the 1997 anathematization of Denisenko, Pat. Alexei again addressed his brother primates to inform them of this decision, and Pat. Bartholomew again responded to Pat. Alexei, acknowledging and accepting this decision of the Russian Orthodox Church, noting that the Ecumenical Patriarchate would have no ecclesial communion with Denisenko.
His original 1997 Greek letter is now also available:
Pat. Bartholomew’s letter reads in full:
Your Beatitude and Holiness Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, beloved brother in Christ God and concelebrant of our mediocrity, Alexei, Your esteemed Beatitude, fraternally kissing you in the Lord, we sweetly greet you!
Having received it, we read with due attention at a meeting of our Holy and Sacred Synod letter No. 79, dated March 6 of this year, of Your beloved and most desired Beatitude, informing our holy Church about the canonical decision of Your Holy Synod regarding the anathematization of Philaret (Mikhail Denisenko) and Gleb Yakunin, and also regarding the expulsion from holy orders and relegation to the order of the laity of Valentin Rusantsov, Adrian Starina, and Ioasaph Shibaev.
Having received notification of the mentioned decision, we informed the hierarchy of our Ecumenical Throne of it and implored them to henceforth have no ecclesial communion with the persons mentioned.
Herewith, Embracing Your Beatitude in a brotherly kiss, with deep love in the Lord and an especial reverence, we remain Your esteemed Beatitude’s loving brother in Christ,
+ BARTHOLOMEW OF CONSTANTINOPLE
April 7, 1997
On October 11, 2018, the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate announced that it had lifted the anathema against Denisenko and had restored him to his clerical order.
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