Moscow, November 5, 2019
His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia took the sorrowful step of not commemorating Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens during the Divine Liturgy at Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow on Sunday, reports Patriarchia.ru.
When the primate of a Local Church celebrates the Liturgy, he commemorates the other primates with whom he shares Eucharistic communion during the Great Entrance. Pat. Kirill has not commemorated Patriarch Bartholomew since September of last year, after Constantinople anti-canonically sent two Exarch bishops into Ukraine to lay the groundwork for creating the schismatic “Orthodox Church of Ukraine.”
On October 17, the Russian Holy Synod stated that if Archbishop Ieronymos shows any official recognition of the schismatic OCU and Epiphany Dumenko as its primate, Pat. Kirill would be authorized to cease commemorating him. Unphased by the harm to Church unity his actions would cause, Abp. Ieronymos sent a letter of official recognition to Epiphany Dumenko on October 21, which became publicly known on October 29.
The canonical Ukrainian Church under His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine described this decision by Abp. Ieronymos as “a knife in the back.”
Earlier, on October 12, the Bishops’ Council of the Greek Church officially recognized the Patriarchate of Constantinople’s right to grant autocephaly to Ukrainian schismatics. At the press conference following the session, Metropolitan Hierotheos (Vlachos) lamentably said: “We do not think about reactions; we did our duty to ensure unity. Anyone who wants to create a schism takes the responsibility.”
In a statement in late October, His Grace Bishop Irinej of Bačka, the head of the Serbian Orthodox Church’s Information and Publishing Department, correctly noted that the current divide in the Church was caused entirely by the Patriarchate of Constantinople and that the Greek Church would be responsible for deepening the divide if it recognizes the OCU.
However, the Russian hierarchs intend to maintain communion with their Greek brothers who maintain fidelity to Orthodox Tradition and canonical order.