Moscow, September 17, 2021
In 1686, the Patriarchate of Constantinople transferred the Kiev Metropolia to the Russian Orthodox Church, which was recognized for more than 300 years by the entire Orthodox world.
However, in October 2018, when Patriarch Bartholomew and the Patriarchate of Constantinople were determined to launch an attack on the Russian Orthodox Church, the Synod of Constantinople “revoked” the legal binding of the 1686 document so that it could claim control over Ukraine and enter into communion with anathematized and unordained schismatics and create a new organization to compete with the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
His Holiness Patriarch Kirill had earlier traveled to discuss matters with Pat. Bartholomew in Istanbul. At that time, the Russian Patriarch had proposed holding a meeting of scholars and hierarchs to discuss the historical documents concerning the transfer of the Kiev Metropolia. Unfortunately, Pat. Bartholomew simply refused his proposal, determined to move ahead with his unilateral plans.
In May 2019, the Russian Church published a carefully researched and prepared collection of those documents. The volume, The Reunification of the Kiev Metropolia with the Russian Orthodox Church. 1676-1686: Research and Documents, includes 246 documents, 200 of which have never been published before, reports the Russian Church’s Synodal Department for External Church Relations.
The collection was formally presented by the departmental head, His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, yesterday at the “World Orthodoxy: Primacy and Conciliarity in the Light of Orthodox Doctrine” conference at Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow.
The publication is an historical and canonical response to Constantinople’s anti-canonical “revocation” of the 1686 document. The documents include commentary and translations into modern Russian where necessary.
As Met. Hilarion noted in his presentation, even after hierarchs chose to move the Metropolitan See to Vladimir and Moscow in the 13th-14th centuries, the Church always recognized Kiev as its cradle, and the Patriarchate of Constantinople even defended this unity at the time. The temporary division of the Russian Church in the 15th-17th centuries was occasioned by Constantinople’s union with Catholics at the Union of Florence in 1439, the fall of Constantinople that followed it, and the union of the Orthodox hierarchy with Rome on the territory of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, he explained.
“The extremely difficult situation of Orthodoxy on the Right Bank forced the Kiev Metropolia to seek reunification with the Moscow Patriarchate, the restoration of the fullness of the Russian Church. This reunification, which took place in 1686, not only saved the Orthodox Church in the Western Russian lands from final destruction, but also contributed to the spiritual, theological and educational flourishing of the united Russian Church,” the Metropolitan explained.
The documentary collection includes, among other things, the testimonies of hierarchs, clergy, monastics, and laity of the time, Met. Hilarion noted.
Although the volume has not generated significant discussion as of yet, the Patriarchate of Constantinople is preparing its own collection in response, His Eminence pointed out.
“I’m glad that our publication has given an impetus to the discussion—no matter how biased the reaction of our opponents may be—on this topic that’s important not only for the history of the Russian Church, but also for the unity of the entire world Orthodoxy,” the Russian hierarch said.