Istanbul, December 17, 2021
At least two Orthodox news sites that are openly aligned with the Patriarchate of Constantinople have run fake news articles in the past week and a half about His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow.
According to the Greek-language outlet Ekklisia Online, and World Ecclesiastical News, a Constantinople-aligned site publishing in Georgian, Pat. Kirill was to have visited Slovakia on December 5-9, to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Czech-Slovak Church’s autocephaly granted by the Russian Orthodox Church, as well as the 800th anniversary of the birth of St. Alexander Nevsky.
But the supposed celebrations and visit of the Russian Patriarch were reportedly canceled under pressure from Patriarch Bartholomew. The articles characterize the affair as a failure of Russian Church diplomacy, and the Czech-Slovak Church’s unwillingness to be a pawn in the Russian Church’s supposed struggle for primacy among the Local Churches.
However, a hierarch and member of the Holy Synod of the Church of the Czech Lands and Slovakia spoke with OrthoChristian, characterizing the articles as “empty journalism.”
His Eminence Archbishop Juraj of Michalovce and Košice in Slovakia says that there was never a word about Pat. Kirill supposedly planning to visit Slovakia.
“This is empty journalism written with bad intentions just to create more tensions,” His Eminence said.
“I think it’s completely pointless, really. That’s all I can really comment on that. I find it stupid to write such articles when the world is really facing other problems. And there’s no need to create pointless tensions,” he continued.
“If somebody thinks that this is the way to lead to the recognition of some schismatic structure, then he is very, very mistaken,” the Archbishop stated.
And in any case, Slovakia is in an official lockdown, Abp. Juraj added, and so such official visits wouldn’t even have been considered anyways.
“It’s empty journalism with bad intentions,” His Eminence reiterated in conclusion.
Ekklisia Online states that the “Chrisma Center” Telegram channel reported the dates of the supposed visit, though the Greek outlet doesn’t provide a link to any specific report, and no such report exists on the channel now, though it is possible that it did exist but has been deleted.
In February, Chrisma wrote that the anniversary of the tomos of autocephaly and the anniversary of St. Alexander Nevsky would be good reasons to hold joint events, though it doesn’t claim any events were actually planned and it mentions no dates.
Ekklisia Online also refers to a letter that Pat. Bartholomew sent to His Eminence Archbishop Michael of Prague in February of this year, expressing his extreme displeasure at the fact that the latter had referred in his 2021 New Year’s epistle to the 70th anniversary of autocephaly from the Russian Church. The Patriarch did send such a letter, though nothing is mentioned of any supposed visit of Pat. Kirill.
It is true that Pat. Bartholomew fervently objects to the Czech-Slovak Church celebrating the 1951 tomos, as the Patriarchate of Constantinople refused to recognize it, instead granting a second, much more restrictive tomos in 1998.
Though the Church celebrated the 50th anniversary in 2001 and the 55th in 2006, thus demonstrating that it never repudiated its 1951 tomos of autocephaly from the Russian Church, after the Church celebrated the 60th anniversary in 2011, Pat. Bartholomew wrote to then-primate Metropolitan Christopher of Prague, threatening to revoke the Czech-Slovak Church’s autocephaly.
Read more about the Patriarchate of Constantinople’s interference in the life of the Czech-Slovak Church in the articles, “The Ecumenical Patriarchate’s Role in the Crisis Period of the Orthodox Church in the Czech Lands and Slovakia,” “Constantinople bishop’s statement about the establishment of monastery in Czech Republic is full of inaccuracies, says hierarch of Czech-Slovak Church,” and “’Stop provoking us!’—Constantinople demands Czech-Slovak Church renounce 1951 autocephaly from Moscow.”