Moscow, November 21, 2019
His Beatitude Patriarch Theophilos of Jerusalem and His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow concelebrated the Divine Liturgy today on the feast of the Synaxis of the Archangels and Bodiless Powers today in Moscow’ Christ the Savior Cathedral, reports the Telegram channel of prichod.ru.
The Patriarch of Jerusalem arrived in Moscow Tuesday evening, accompanied by His Eminence Archbishop Aristarchus of Constantina, to participate in the awards ceremony of the International Public Foundation for the Unity of Orthodox Peoples.
In his words following the service, Pat. Theophilos noted that, “Today’s feast is not accidental, because it reminds us of the unity of the Church, which is the Divine-human Body of Christ. Today we had the opportunity to commune from the common chalice and to bear witness in the most striking way to the unity of Orthodoxy in Christ.”
“The Church today is being persecuted, but as St. John Chrysostom said, the ship of the Church is subjected to attacks but is not submerged,” he said, encouraging the faithful.
Pat. Theophilos’ visit comes at a time of heavy pressure on the Patriarchate of Jerusalem to recognize the schismatic “Orthodox Church of Ukraine,” and amidst speculation that it will be the next Local Church to do so. To date, the Patriarch has affirmed his support for the canonical Ukrainian Church and its primate His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine many times over. Hierarchs from Ukraine concelebrated in Jerusalem on September 27, the feast of the Exaltation of the Cross, and Pat. Theophilos assured them they would always be welcome and have his support, noting that he recognizes only Met. Onuphry.
Jerusalem Church authorities have also been diligently checking all documents from Ukrainian clergy, ensuring that they are from the canonical Church before allowing them to serve at the holy sites in Jerusalem.
Yesterday, the two primates met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Patriarchal chambers of the Kremlin, and the head of state congratulated Pat. Theophilos on the award in the name of Patriarch Alexei II “For outstanding work to strengthen the unity of Orthodox peoples. For affirming and promoting Christian values in the life of society.”
Pres. Putin also thanked Pat. Theophilos for his hospitality to the many Russian pilgrims who visit the Holy Land, and spoke of his recent meeting in Hungary with hierarchs of various Christian churches in the Middle East, saying he is aware of the dire situation facing Christians there.
Pres. Putin also noted that he intends to visit Israel in January on the occasion of Holocaust Remembrance Day and in connection with the opening of a monument dedicated to the memory of the victims of the siege of Leningrad.
For his part, Pat. Theophilos thanked Pres. Putin on behalf of the entire Brotherhood of the Holy Sepulchre for his support for Christians in the Middle East and “for decisive assistance, which was of great importance in the protection of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.”
The awards ceremony of the Foundation for the Unity of Orthodox Peoples will be headed by Pat. Kirill in the Christ the Savior Cathedral. The Pat. Alexei II award, which Pat. Theophilos will receive, is given annually for the affirmation and promotion of Christian values in society and activities to strengthen the unity of Orthodox peoples.
His Holiness Patriarch Irinej of Serbia was among the recipients last year.