Russian Church won’t refuse appeals of African priests—Metropolitan Hilarion

Moscow, October 5, 2021

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After Patriarch Theodoros of Alexandria concelebrated with the fake “Metropolitan” Epiphany Dumenko of the Ukrainian schismatics in August, “the Russian Orthodox Church has no basis on which to refuse the appeals of the clerics of the Alexandrian Patriarchate,” believes the head of the Russian Church’s Department for External Church Relations (DECR).

At its session last month, the Russian Synod decided to consider the appeals from over 100 African priests to be received into the jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate.

Commenting on this decision on the latest episode of the Church and the World television show, DECR Chairman His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk stated:

When the Patriarch of Alexandria joined the Patriarch of Constantinople and recognized the schismatic structure in Ukraine as the Orthodox Church, commemorating its leader during the Divine service, it caused an internal split in the Church of Alexandria, which was to be expected. A number of priests who didn’t agree with this commemoration and with the recognition of the schism appealed to Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia with a request to accept them into the Russian Orthodox Church.

Reiterating the Synod’s statement on the matter, Met. Hilarion noted that the Russian Church held out hope that Pat. Theodoros would rethink his disastrous decision, but this did not happen. Instead, in August, the Alexandrian primate concelebrated with Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople and the schismatic Dumenko in Pat. Bartholomew’s hometown of Imbros, Turkey.

“From the point of view of the Church canons, if a hierarch concelebrates with a schismatic, he himself falls into schism. Unfortunately, the Church canons don’t allow for any other interpretation,” Met. Hilarion said.

Given the concelebration with Dumenko, the Russian Church no longer has any reason to refuse the appeals coming from Africa, Met. Hilarion believes.

“How long they’ll be considered, how our presence in Africa will be structured—we still have to decide this at the next meetings of the Holy Synod,” the DECR Chairman concluded, thus confirming the Russian Church’s intention to receive the priests.

The Synod’s decision is controversial both among those who oppose and those who side with the Russian Church in the Ukrainian crisis, as the latter express concern that a move into Africa will undercut the argument against Constantinople’s move into Ukraine.


Despite having lived and served in Ukraine for many years and having presented himself as a friend and defender of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church and His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry, on November 8, 2019, Pat. Theodoros capitulated to pressure from Greece and the U.S. and liturgically commemorated “Metropolitan” Epiphany Dumenko, the head of the schismatic “Orthodox Church of Ukraine,” during the Divine Liturgy.

As a result, the Alexandrian Patriarchate’s representation church in Moscow ceased commemorating Pat. Theodoros and ceased functioning as a representation church, and the Russian representation churches in Africa were removed from Alexandria’s jurisdiction and converted into Russian stavropegia. His Holiness Patriarch Kirill also ceased commemorating Pat. Theodoros during the Divine services.

A month later, 27 priests from Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia issued a letter of protest, for which they were threatened by the Greek hierarchs of the Patriarchate of Alexandria.

A year later, in November 2020, it was reported that by that time more than 100 African clergy had appealed to be accepted into the Moscow Patriarchate, as they could not abide being in communion with the graceless schismatics of the OCU.

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Stephen1/2/2022 10:14 am
Extending rivalry of Ukraine and Moscow to innocent African priests is unworthy. The priests in Africa confess that they sign the documents only for exchange of money nothing else. Do you think any African priests understand the history background of Moscow and Ukraine?
sherlock_holmes10/6/2021 6:38 pm
I have the feeling this action of MP might trigger a pan-orthodox Synod !
Alexander Leitner10/6/2021 2:07 pm
@antiochene son: This is a very good idea! The best idea. Bartholomew is a heretic. He is an ecumenist, modernist, leftist, ...we are waiting 10 years now seeing Bartholomew being deposed and condemned. Also lost Greek Hierarchs.
Alexander Leitner10/6/2021 2:00 pm
Good decision! Also sent missionaries to Istanbul and Greece. Bring the Old Calendarists back into communion and all true orthodox christians of greece. The Greek New Calendar State Church can enter into Communion with latins and protestants. The Greek New Calendar State Church is nothing more than a greek byzantine eastern form of protestantism.
Juan10/6/2021 11:14 am
"Those who commune with schismatics become the schismatics". Therefore, ROCOR was schismatic between 1969 and 2005 since it was officially in communion with Old Calendarist schiamatics. Flawless logic.
David10/6/2021 10:05 am
"David, those who commune with schismatics become the schismatics. It doesn't then suddenly spread to everyone who doesn't suddenly cut themselves off from these people." This has been going on for almost 3 years now. There is nothing "sudden" about it. So if there is no Synod that has declared the EP or Alexandria in schism, why are the MP infringing upon the territory of the EP and Alexandria? The MP has condemned the EP for unilaterally declaring a Church autocephalous (or recognizing a previously unrecognized group). How can the MP unilaterally declare a Church schismatic? Synodality cuts both ways. Was Russia schismatic for communing with Bulgaria prior to 1945? I have a hard time taking the MP seriously on this issue, given the use of "economy" on this issue on the MP side.
Jesse Dominick10/6/2021 8:35 am
David, those who commune with schismatics become the schismatics. It doesn't then suddenly spread to everyone who doesn't suddenly cut themselves off from these people. That's particularly Old Calendarist ecclesiology. Patriarchs Bartholomew and Theodore have made themselves schismatics by serving with the schismatics, but there's nothing that says everyone else //must// suddenly cut off from them before there is a Synodal condemnation. The MP's position isn't incoherent, because it's not a Patristic position that schism suddenly spreads through the entire Church, just as being in communion with Nestorius before his condemnation didn't make everyone suddenly a heretic.
Pavel P. Veniaminov10/6/2021 4:33 am
So who are the schismatics now? "Scribes and pharisees, hypocrites..."
David10/6/2021 1:41 am
Athanasius, you are not addressing the point. Is Patriarch Bartholomew a schismatic? If yes, then anyone who communes with him is also a schismatic. That is what Metropolitan Hilarion is saying here with the Patriarch of Alexandria. That is what I am getting at. The MP's position is incoherent. If the EP is NOT schismatic, than that means this is an administrative or territorial dispute, and DOES NOT justify or excuse the MP escalating the situation by invading the canonical territory of other Patriarchates. Antioch is not escalating the issue with Jerusalem. The EP has not done anything further. If the MP had broken communion and left it at that, they would probably have many more allies in the Greek world. The MP setting up a structure in Africa will not be well received by the Church, because such structures, once built, are not easily dismantled. This is an ill advised escalation of the situation, which is fully Moscow's doing. I have seen on internet fora elsewhere the unease that is starting to set in among some of the MP's ardent internet supporters over moves like this. What is the MP doing? It isn't the EP who will be "the bad guy" here.
Antiochene Son10/5/2021 6:49 pm
This is not a good idea. If what Bartholomew has done rises to the level of heresy, then he should be anathematized and it can be dealt with accordingly. But no one, even Moscow, has made a move to this end. So if this Ukraine mess is ultimately an administrative problem, the internal disputes of the Church of Alexandria should not be the problem of the Moscow Patriarchate. If they wish to appeal to someone, it should be a neighboring patriarchate such as Jerusalem or Antioch.
Athanasius Spine10/5/2021 6:36 pm
@David The MP recognizes that Cyprus, Greece, and Alexandria have been betrayed in this question of Ukraine by their primates, but there remain courageous voices among the synods of bishops of those jurisdictions who oppose the EP's actions and the recognition of the Ukrainian schismatics. As such, a broad breaking of communion and concelebration has been put into place against the EP alone. Even that is not total. For example, the faithful under the EP remain welcome at MP chalices. It's the EP as a structure and as a synod that has been censured. For Cyprus and Greece, breaks in communion exists only with the minority of bishops who have capitulated to recognizing the Ukrainian schismatics. For Mt. Athos, a break in communion exists only for the minority of monasteries that have likewise capitulated. Alexandria is the same, though the situation is changing, as they have opted to promote a more "comply or else" stance toward their faithful bishops and priests. A parallel jurisdiction might be Africa's only hope. It has happened before in the history of the Church. It's messy, but the Holy Spirit has always worked in, through, and around our messes. I don't believe accusing the MP of hypocrisy and being self-serving is fair. To do so would ignore the very important issues at stake, issues that we must get right.
Jesse Dominick10/5/2021 3:42 pm
It's not that the MP has extended an offer, but rather it's responding to the appeals of the priests themselves. If priests from Greece or Cyprus were to appeal, I suppose it's possible the MP would consider it. It also remains to be seen how these dealings with the African priests will end up and how it will all be received by the wider Church.
Menas10/5/2021 2:12 pm
Will the Russian Church be extending this offer to the other Churches who has recognized the schismatics? (Greece, Cyprus?)
David10/5/2021 10:58 am
Then why is the MP in Communion with the other Churches? They all are in communion with the EP. Why are Russians allowed to commune on Mt. Athos and in Greece? This makes no sense, and makes the MP position look hypocritical and self-serving.
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