Russian Synod removes Russian parishes in Africa from jurisdiction of Patriarchate of Alexandria

Moscow, December 26, 2019

The Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church met in Moscow today under the chairmanship of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia.

The hierarchs considered and responded to the decision of Patriarch Theodoros of Alexandria to recognize the Ukrainian schismatics, expressing their deep sorrow at his decision that makes it impossible to maintain Eucharistic communion with him.

The Synod also came to decisions regarding the Alexandria representation church in Moscow and the Russian representation and parishes in Africa.

According to Vladimir Legoida, the Patriarchal Press Secretary, the Synod resolved:

1. To express deep sorrow in connection with the anti-canonical actions of Patriarch Theodoros of Alexandria, who entered into communion with the schismatics.
2. To emphasize that Patriarch Theodoros of Alexandria’s decision to recognize the Ukrainian schismatics contradicts His Beatitude’s repeated statements in support of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church and its primate Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine, including the statement made during his last visit to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church from September 27 to October 1, 2018, three weeks after the Patriarchate of Constantinople’s invasion of Ukraine by appointing “exarchs” to Kiev.
3. To note that the decision to recognize the schismatic structure in Ukraine was not made at the session of the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Alexandria held on October 7-9, that it was not put to a vote of its hierarchs, and, accordingly, it does not have a conciliar character, but was made by the primate of this Church unilaterally.
4. To confirm the impossibility of commemorating the name of Patriarch Theodoros of Alexandria in the diptychs, as well as prayerful and Eucharistic communion with him.
5. To maintain Church communion with the hierarchs of the Alexandrian Orthodox Church, except for those who have supported or will support the legalization of the Ukrainian schism in the future.
6. To suspend the activity of the representation (podvoriye) of the Alexandrian Patriarchate to the Moscow Patriarchal See.
7. To convert the representation of the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia to the Patriarch of Alexandria into a parish of the Russian Orthodox Church in Cairo.
8. To withdraw the parishes of the Russian Orthodox Church located on the African continent from the jurisdiction of the Alexandrian Patriarchate, giving them a stavropegial status.

The decision to move the given parishes to the jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate is sure to draw serious criticism from the hierarchs of the Patriarchate of Alexandria and to increase inter-Church tensions in world Orthodoxy.

Earlier, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, the Chairman of the Synodal Department for External Church Relations, stated: “I don’t want to predict how events will develop, but if the Patriarchate of Alexandria is on the side of the schism, then, of course, we will probably have to create parishes for our believers, because they will not be able to take communion in the churches of the Patriarchate of Alexandria.”

Met. Hilarion also noted that it was only in the 20th century that the Patriarchate of Alexandria expanded its jurisdiction beyond northern Africa, which it did with Russian support. In particular, when the Russian Church built parishes in Africa, it did so with the agreement of the Patriarchate of Alexandria, and the churches were placed under the jurisdiction of Alexandria and the priests, who came from Russia, became clerics of the Patriarchate of Alexandria on a temporary basis.

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Ann Pantelopoulos1/11/2020 10:17 pm
It is prophecy that this terrible separation would come. Breaks my ❤ With God's help I will remain faithful to death. Much sorrow to come in this fallen world as the Devil knowing his time is short seeking to destroy all he can.
Jesse Dominick12/27/2019 3:20 pm
Dimitrios, according to the Synod's statement, they intend to maintain communion with those dioceses that do not support the schismatics, just as they are doing with the Greek Church. Presumably there will be a list published at some point. We will keep our eyes out for it and publish news about it when it is issued. As for how to defend the Church from this action, of course we must all be praying fervently. Other than that, you can contact your hierarch and voice your opinion, maybe even through a petition or open letter as the priests did. Whether or not they will hear you, I can't say. It is not clear right now how this will all shake out. We'll have to wait and pray and see.
Dimitrios12/27/2019 3:10 pm
Brother in Christ, Thomas. The intention of asking the questions is for clarity and guidance, so that we don't rely on our own interpretations or misguided pride. Comparison to the confession list is unfair, especially given the circumstances. I ask the Russian Church to please clarify these questions for the benefit of the Faithful so that we don't find ourselves in communion with anathemized schismatics.
Fr. Charalambos 12/27/2019 8:30 am
MP should quickly work out an official withdrawal of the brave African priests from the hand of the Greek Patriarchate of Alexandria..... persecution of the priests who signed loyal to MP has started seriously..let MP post a bishop to Africa immediately to organise these priests....and parishes into MP parishes...
Theodoros12/27/2019 5:49 am
The above resolutions show what we Orthodox have descended to. We'll suspend the activity of your respresentation church within our See and then we'll do as we wish within your See. How sad and tragic this is all turning out to be.
Thomas12/27/2019 5:36 am
This is wonderful news on the behalf of the Moscow Patriarchate! However, it seems that some of the commenters are a little too focused on the rules rather than Christ. If you want to take communion, ask. And if they do not know, tell them. If they choose to be Moscow Patriarchate, then take communion. If not, go elsewhere or refrain until you can. Simple as that. A pretty good priest that I know was asked by his confessing parishioners, "Give me a list Father!" of the sins that a person can commit. He told them no because "then they are going to start worrying about the list" as he said himself.
Eddie12/26/2019 10:36 pm
Hopefully a complete list of the dioceses that we are not in communion with will be made widely available. The same for the ailing Church of Athens. These lists should be on all official and semi-official websites of the canonical Ukrainian Church and the MP. In all languages.
Dimitrios12/26/2019 8:20 pm
Will the Russian Church maintain communion with the Dioceses of the Alexandrian Church that have not accepted the schismatics. We have seen the outcry from the brave African Priests. How would this work? The majority of the faithful don't even know what is going on. Since this decision was taken by the Patriarch Unilaterally, is he alone been excommunicated or the entire Patriarchate? What are we as laity supposed to do? Are we supposed to stop going to our traditional Parishes and move to the Russian Church? Is there anything we as laity can do to defend our Church from his unilateral action? Please can the Russian Church clarify these points for us? I do not want to participate in this terrible sin but feel the duty to protect our Church. Point 5 is clear in intent, but not in practicality. From what I understand, the brave African Priests who have spoken out have already been threatened. I would also like to request that if a Dioces has accepted the schismatics, that the Russian Church publish this information on this site and social media to protect the Faithful from falling into a trap. Lord have mercy on us all.
Mika'el Weldehazen12/26/2019 7:35 pm
Well, speaking of schismatics...
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