Moscow, December 27, 2019
Meeting in Moscow yesterday under the chairmanship of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church voiced its official support for the Patriarch of Jerusalem’s initiative to gather the primates of the Orthodox Local Churches to resolve the issues of Church unity arising from the Ukrainian Church crisis.
While visiting Moscow in November to receive the Patriarch Alexei II Award for working towards Church unity from the International Public Foundation for the Unity of Orthodox Peoples, His Beatitude Patriarch Theophilos of Jerusalem invited all his brother primates to gather in Jordan at a Synaxis of the Primates.
Addressing his fellow primates, His Beatitude said:
We would like to host, in our home as the Patriarchate of Jerusalem, our brothers, the primates of the Orthodox Church, to gather in the spirit of fellowship—koinonia—so that counsel will be taken together for the preservation of our unity in Eucharistic communion. The unity of the Church in faith and life is a gift of the Holy Spirit, but it is our God-given responsibility—as those to whom the ministry of our Churches, being the mystical body of Christ, has been entrusted—to guard the unity of the Church, even to the point of undergoing sacrifice. We have no choice before God but to commit every effort to defend our unity.
We take this opportunity, therefore, to declare open our home in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, for hosting this “fraternal gathering in love” so that together we may be a witness to the Church and to the world of the unity of the Orthodox Church and our Orthodox faith.
Regarding Pat. Theophilos’ visit to Jerusalem and his invitation, the Russian Synod resolved:
1. To thank God for the joy of the concelebration and fraternal fellowship of His Beatitude Patriarch Theophilos III of the Holy City of Jerusalem and All Palestine and His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia.
2. To note the importance of the visit of His Beatitude for the strengthening of the traditionally good relations between the Russian and Jerusalem Orthodox Churches.
3. To positively evaluate the initiative of His Beatitude Patriarch Theophilos of Jerusalem aimed at overcoming divisions and the restoration of unity in the Orthodox Church.
The Russian Synod is thus the second to officially support Pat. Theophilos’ call, after the Synod of the Czech-Slovak Church did the same last week.
Conversely, the day after the Patriarch of Jerusalem invited his brother primates, Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens announced that he would not heed the Patriarch’s call for brotherly fellowship and would not attend any council not called by Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople.