Moscow, October 5, 2021
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 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.