Abp. Anastasios of Albania: Constantinople’s actions in Ukraine threaten to rupture Orthodox unity

Tirana, Albania, November 22, 2018

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In early October it was reported that His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia had written to all the heads of the Local Orthodox Churches to inform them about the ongoing crisis in Ukraine and to propose opening a pan—Orthodox discussion on the matter.

His Beatitude Archbishop Anastasios of Tirana, Durrës and All Albania sent a reply message to Pat. Krill on October 10 in which he expressed concern that the implementation of the Ukrainian autocephaly project by the Patriarchate of Constantinople “will become a walk through a minefield,” reports the site of the Russian Orthodox Church.

His letter is dated one day before the Holy Synod of Constantinople announced that it was continuing with the plans to create an autocephalous church in Ukraine, that it was rehabilitating the leaders and members of Ukraine’s two schismatic groups, and that it was rescinding the document that transferred the Kiev Metropolia to the Russian Church.

This is the first time that anything has been heard from the Albanian Church whether officially or unofficially since it became known this summer that Constantinople intends to create a new autocephalous church in Ukraine. However, in 2015, Abp. Anastasios, who is close to Patriarch Bartholomew, having begun his ministry in Albania as his Patriarchal Exarch, described the actions of Philaret Denisenko and his schismatic “Kiev Patriarchate” as demonic and egotistical, saying Philaret gives a bad example for the Church.

Denisenko is one of the two schismatic leaders rehabilitated by Constantinople, despite that he had been defrocked and anathematized by the Russian Orthodox Church.

In his recent letter, Abp. Anastasios expressed his view that opposing factions will remain opposed and a schism will break out in the Orthodox world and that he had personally shared this view with Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople during a meeting on the island of Crete.

Since he wrote his letter, the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox broke communion with the Patriarchate of Constantinople in response to its October 11 decisions.

“It resembles a dangerous enterprise with unexpected side effects. Opposing factions will maintain their individuality and cohesion as has happened many times in various Local Churches. As a result, instead of the unity of Orthodoxy in Ukraine, there appears the danger of a split in the unity of world Orthodoxy,” the Albanian primate writes.

His Beatitude also noted that he offers “fervent prayers for the unity of our holy Church, headed by our Lord Jesus Christ, which He hath purchased with His own blood (Acts 20:28).”

Abp. Anastasios also assured Pat. Kirill that he would “do everything possible to prevent a schism in world Orthodoxy.”

“Such a development of events would be a painful blow to trust in Orthodoxy, which should be avoided by all means. No matter how impossible it may seem, we believe that we should all ‘do everything’ to return to the Synaxis of the primates and the planning of a new Great Council. We are aware that some will find these proposals unrealistic and ultimately unfeasible,” His Beatitude said, “Nevertheless, I am convinced that no one can be a realist if he doesn’t believe in miracles, and that the things which are impossible with men are possible with God (Lk. 18:27).

In calling for the matter to be dealt with through cooperation and a pan-Orthodox council, Abp. Anastasios joins his voice to those of the Synods and/or primates from every Local Orthodox Church except Constantinople.

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