Patriarchate of Alexandria responds to creation of Russian Exarchate in Africa

Alexandria, December 30, 2021     

The Patriarchate of Alexandria has issued an official response to the decision of the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church to create an African Exarchate, including two dioceses that cover the entire African content, and to recieve 102 African priests into this Exarchate.

Read the full statement from the Chief Secretariat of the Alexandrian Holy Synod:

The ancient Patriarchate of Alexandria expresses its deepest sorrow at the synodal decision of the Russian Patriarchate to establish an Exarchate within the normal limits of the jurisdiction of the Ancient Church of Alexandria, a decision taken in the midst of the Nativity of Christ and the divine Epiphany, during which Christ the King of Peace is projected.

The Patriarchate of Alexandria will continue to carry out its pastoral duties towards the flock which has been entrusted to it by the Lord, which fall under the spiritual legacies of the great Greek Fathers of the Church, who, according to the modern Russian theologian the late Fr. George Florovsky, left an indelible mark on Orthodox Theology and the Church.

The decision of the Russian Patriarchate will be discussed at an upcoming session of the Synod of the Patriarchate, at which time relevant decisions will be taken.

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Alexander Leitner1/5/2022 6:50 pm
@ Common sense: "All of you defending the Moscow Patriarchate look like absolute fools. The whole continent of Africa is the canonical territory of the Patriarchate of Alexandria. All Orthodox Churches recognize this. Moscow had no right to unilaterally.." You look like a fool here because THERE IS NO ORTHODOX PATRIARCH IN ALEXANDRIA YET. "Patriarch Theodoros" is a schismatic, in communion with schismatics and excommunicated groups. There is no "ORTHODOX Church of Ukraine". Such a church does not exist. The Holy Canons are clear. Theodoros has to be deposed. Since the Church of Alexandria seems not to do this, as also not the Church of Constantinople, they will not depose Bartholomew. There is no other solution. All ORTHODOX Churches recognize this? Really? all orthodox Churches are schismatic now?. I tell you what the real problem is: the Churches are "sleeping". The priests are weak and so are the Bishops of today. They should be brave enough and stand up and shout: ENOUGH. ANATHEMA TO BARTHOLOMEW AND REMOVE HIM. CASE CLOSED. But what's happening? Nothing... The same with ecumenism. When it was clear that Bartholomew went tooo far what happened? Nothing. He should have been deposed long ago. But what did the greek Bishoos say? Let's wait, let's fight from within...and what was the outcome? Almost the complete destruction of the Orthodox Church unity. The local churches now have to take action. Come together, remove the troublemakers, depose them. And if a local church want's to be loyal to schismatic Bishop, we have to accept and cast the whole church out. If the situation will not be solved will be dramatically. All will be in schism, no one will know who is in communion with who.
Costas 1/4/2022 11:10 pm
As a member of the Orthodox Church of Alexandria and all Africa i pray that Patriarch Theodore reverses the decision of recognizing the Schismatic OCU under Epifanius who is not even a Ordained priest! And until he dose i will pray Our Lord Jesus Christ has mercy on him and guides him back to the truth ! I am Greek if there is such a thing as my father and grandmothers called them selves Romans and where in the for-front of building the Church in the Greek community they where part of ! AP claims the Greek fathers i beg to wager that all would call themselves Roman for up until Constantinople fell they Called them selves Roman ! And come to EP or Black Bart what has he done there are less than 3000 Orthodox in Constantinople today and instead of him working in his jurisdiction to strengthen the Church he consorts with the Pope and evry other Heretic he can hug , and thinks he is the Pope of Orthodoxy , what a foolish man of the world . There are many of us who Will go over to the Russian Church if this foolishness of Black Bart the pirat continues!
Seraphim 1/4/2022 10:10 pm
I cant't help but feel that the observation about "the desire to live in monumental times" is a very astute one. I am basically a supporter of the views expressed in the excellent little book by Metropolitan Tylliria Nikiforos of Kykkos. I cannot see any canonical legitimacy the Ukrainian tomos. But speaking of "monumental times" - yes indeed - everyone should watch the interview with Archbishop Leonid of the new African Exarchate - Clearly "full of beans" about the new project he is much more strident and open about the details than I have seen in official pronouncements. Indeed he begins, "Yesterday we turned a page in the history books. A new epoch is beginning. Both the Most Holy Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia and the Holy Synod of the Russian Church will go down in the history of Universal Orthodoxy with this blessed and good deed. It is a unique event, the event of an entire epoch." He goes on to talk about the venture in terms of material aid, rectifiying years of Greek condescension and under-investment.
Antiochene Son1/3/2022 7:07 pm
@Common Sense: I wouldn't dismiss the issue out of hand as you do, but you are right that the African clergy should have appealed to a neighboring See: Jerusalem or Antioch. They are both ancient patriarchates and they are both neighbors to the See under which they are aggrieved. This was the canonical route to take: if your metropolitan wrongs you, seek the judgment of a neighboring one. Clergy should not scour the world for any bishop who would take them; that is wrong. If Antioch and Jerusalem refused to take them, that would be a statement that they should not be aggrieved to the degree they are.
Antiochene Son1/3/2022 7:03 pm
@Afanassy: Severing communion is not the same as anathema. Until the EP or AP are anathematized, they are valid and licit hierarchs of the Orthodox Church. To say "there simply is no valid Orthodox representation in Africa" is not defensible; even during actual heresies I don't recall patriarchs establishing parallel jurisdictions in other territories. I could be corrected of course, but I think this is a desire to live in monumental times. This isn't the Arian controversy.
Ioannis1/3/2022 1:01 pm
David, you have forgotten to mention that EP does not want to call an Ecumenical Synod (Council)......So, WHAT IF MP has chosen to act unilaterally in Africa, so as to "inspire" EP for such an Ecumenical meeting and solution of the problem?...... If EP (for personal reasons) blocks such a meeting, then, bad luck, MP obviously has no other alternative than to act "unilaterally" even for the simple fact that it represents the largest number of souls, the basis of the CHURCH.
Mikhail1/3/2022 6:25 am
Look for Russia to create a Russian Exarchate in Turkey and Cyprus and any other jurisdiction who wishes to recognize the tragic schismatic group that the the EP created in Ukraine. Bravo!
David1/3/2022 5:29 am
Even if one concedes that the MP is right on the Ukraine issue, they are wrong on several fronts: FIRST-the MP has no right to unilaterally declare any Church schismatic, especially considering that all of the other Churches maintain communion with them, AND this includes the MP (with their continued "partial communion" with Bishops and Monasteries that have the "right opinion" on Ukraine). SECOND- the MP has no right to establish a parallel jurisdiction on another Church's established territory (Alexandria). THIRD- the MP has no right to unilaterally redraw another Church's canonical boundaries. Alexandria's claim to all of Africa was UNIVERSALLY acknowledged by all (much like the UOC-MP's claims on Ukraine), including the MP. This "Well actually, traditionally Alexandria only had claim to X" is an attempt to justify a grossly uncanonical act, much like the rescinding of the 1686 document. The MP is now doing the very thing that they accuse the EP of doing, using pseudo-theological justifications and pure whataboutism (look at the EP!). This is why the MP is receiving such pushback from people who were fully supportive before. This is ugly, and wrong. The MP can say what it likes. This will blow up in their face.
Michael1/3/2022 3:39 am
I take no pleasure in saying this because I am Greek-American by all four grandparents. But the Ecumenical Patriarch has descended into egomania and papal pretension. First Without Equal tells you evyyiu need to know. The EP and those who have supported his invasion of the canonical Church in Ukraine under Metropolitan Onuphry are now in full schism and not part of Holy Orthodoxy. Moscow is extending the grace of the Orthodox Church to them. How else could you explain that on a single day, one out of five priests serving under Alexandria have gone over to Moscow? In the coming weeks this number will double and perhaps triple. I pray that the EP will repent of his folly and schism before it is too late to fix what he has broken. To Common Sense: we are all here to express our opinions. I read and try to understand those I disagree with and some have even changed my mind from time to time. When you start by ad hominem attacks on other posters you just devalue your own thoughts and show the weakness of your arguments.
Nina1/2/2022 9:50 pm
Sagheer, There is an orthodox mission in Pakistan headed by Fr. John. Maybe you can try to get in touch with him. All the best on your journey...
Common Sense1/2/2022 9:49 pm
All of you defending the Moscow Patriarchate look like absolute fools. The whole continent of Africa is the canonical territory of the Patriarchate of Alexandria. All Orthodox Churches recognize this. Moscow had no right to unilaterally “judge” an ancient and apostolic Patriarchate and invade its territory. “But these priests didn’t want to be in communion with schismatics” The OCU isn’t schismatic. Metropolitan Epiphany commemorates all primates in the Liturgy, and four other Primates commemorate him as well. That isn’t schismatic. ALSO, even if Constantinople and Alexandria “fell away in schism,” then it would be up to Antioch to be the first throne - NOT MOSCOW! The Moscow Patriarchate has absolutely no canonical reason to be doing anything in Africa.
Ioannis1/1/2022 8:55 pm
Alexander Leitner: I agree with your post, EXCEPT FOR TWO LINES and "The Greeks of course are very very special in Holy Orthodoxy and also Constantinople the Queen of cities. The Ecumenical Patriarch is the highest of all Patriarchs. The Primus.".......Firstly, regarding my fellow-country-men Greeks we should remember the Lord's words:.... Luke,17,10 "So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do".(Luke,17,10).... Regarding the Bishop of Constantinople, in general, let alone Bartholomew, his justification and function is explained in Canon 28 of the 4th Ecum. Synod (or Council) as interpreted by Saint Nicodeme the Agiorite:... "The fact that the Bishop of Constantinople ought to receive privileges of authority because various Patriarchs and Prelates used to come to the Emperor to beg for his help in their exigencies, and it was necessary for them first to meet the Bishop of Constantinople, in whom they found a man to co-operate with them and to lend them assistance, and through him they were enabled to approach he Emperor, just as, in confirmation of the ancient custom, Justinian prescribed this." ....The Canon itself also mentions:......" the one hundred and fifty most God-beloved Bishops have accorded the like priorities to the most holy throne of New Rome, with good reason deeming that the city which is the seat of an empire, and of a senate"..... That was the case say many centuries ago, but not any more today:....Istanbul is now NOT "the seat of an empire, and of a senate".....No conceivable Patriarchs would now go to Iistanbul or even the real Capital Ankara for assistance....Now, if one replies "Ok Istanbul is not a Capital any more etc, BUT it is a custom, a tradition to consider her as the Queen of the Cities", we could reply that Jerusalem was that long before and her first Bishop was none less than the brother of the Lord! So Canon 28 is crystal clear: This, then, was all because the city was "the seat of an empire, and of a senate". Notwithstanding my objections above, I repeat Aexander, I FULLY agree with the rest of your post.... I hope "Panagiotis" will also read this.
Seraphim 1/1/2022 5:50 pm
Understandably, this is a very emotive and polarised issue. The ramifications of this (as of Bartholomew's actions in Ukraine) are enormous. I just wanted to clarify a few facts. I am not a canon lawyer so this is based on "common sense" and my own research: 1) The Exarchate set up by Moscow covers not only sub-saharan Africa but also North Africa and even Egypt (isn't the new head bishop "of Cairo"?) so this does cover the previously undisputed territory of Alexandria. 2) This is slightly different from Ukaine as the Phanar did not set up an Constantinoplian Exarchate in Ukraine, they gave a [many consider false] recognition of autocephaly there. Eccelsiologically speaking, is not this act, therefore slightly more extreme, even if justified? 3) The only justification for taking this step I can see is that the existing Patriarchate of Alexandria has lost grace and is not longer Orthodox, therefore the Russian Church is not setting up a 'parallel jurisdiction' because the other one is not part of the Orthodox Church. Despite the hyperbole of some of the commentors here who say this, I am inclined to agree it is the only way this step would be justifiable. I have a question. If the view is that Alexadria are still Orthodox, then this is the only example I can think of of local church setting up a parallel jurisdiction on the actual territory (not disputed territory, or "diaspora") of another church? As stated the Ukrainian tomos was not (at least on paper) annexing the Ukraine to Constantinople as part of Thyateira. The only other example I can think of is when ROCOR set up up the True Russian Orthodox Church on Russian soil in 1990. But ROCOR was not another local church. If truth be told, I cannot see how this action will not further deepen the divide. It will be difficult to come back from this one. Everyone will now have to take sides. Perhaps that's a good thing, I don't know.
Alexander Leitner1/1/2022 1:27 pm
The enemies of Christ and Holy Orthodoxy are very happy. They are rejoicing. The Panagia is weeping (Athens..,) Christ is streaming blood... Holy Orthodoxy is growing everywhere. All over the world. In Europe, USA, Africa, Asia... There are powers that do not want this. They try to weaken the Church, to seperate the people, to stirr up nations... In Bartholomew and others they found puppets for their plan. The discussion is NOT about nationality or local churches. It is about Orthodoxy and Holy Tradition and Holy Canons. The Greeks of course are very very special in Holy Orthodoxy and also Constantinople the Queen of cities. The Ecumenical Patriarch is the highest of all Patriarchs. The Primus. (but the actual is a schismatic) Russians LOVE Constantinople, they love the Ecumenical Patriarchate, Greece and all greeks. But Bartholomew does not love russians and he does not love Orthodoxy. He has to be deposed and a true orthodox Patriarch should sit again on the apostolic Throne. 10 years ago I can remember in the vestnik of the ROCA an article was written about how Bartholomew tries to divide people. To split churches...
Ioannis1/1/2022 1:07 pm
Panagiotis, if you reay mean what you just wrote, then, there is one explanation, that in your heart you still believe that the bishop in Constantinople is kinda Pope, so you did not address my 2nd point. I think you want to do your homework before you write in this website, for there are many learned and devout Orthodox Christians here, much better than my fellow Greeks and myself. And if you write wrong information about our Faith (Πίστις) then you damage our "Greek-ness" which you want to protect: Well then, have you ever, ever CAREFULLY read Canon 28 of the 4th Ec.Synod (Council)? It is in the Greek Rudder/Pedalion (Πηδάλιον) pages 206-207. If you cannot read Greek, you can find it in the English translation by Cummings. You will then understand many, many things happening today.
Panagiotis1/1/2022 3:48 am
Ioannis: For your information, I have criticized Patriarch Bartholomew's liberal beliefs many times on this website! I have agreed with the conservative beliefs of the Russian Orthodox Church many times on this website! I have stated many times on this website that ALL Orthodox Christians are my brothers! I have never said, and I do not believe that anyone's ethnicity is more important than our Orthodox Faith!
Panagiotis1/1/2022 3:16 am
Raphael: Are those pathetic comments, directed to me, the best that you can do?... LOL!!!.. If you do not care about my opinion, like you said, then why are you commenting on it?... LOL!!!... Others apparently do care about my opinions, as they have agreed with me and/or thanked me. Does that bother you Raphael?... LOL!!!.... I am going to continue to leave comments on this website, and if you do not like it, then too bad!
Ioannis12/31/2021 11:15 pm
Raphael, you are right! Panagiotis either thinks that 1)ethnicity (Greek) is more important than faith in Christ, or that 2)Bartholomew is "unique" like the Pope. Let'see whether these are the case: 1) After 4 centuries of Turkish yoke the Greeks started the Liberation war in 1821. General Theodoros Kolokotronis said to the people "We shall fight for the Faith and the Country, and I say first for the Faith and second for the Country". Thus Faith is more important than Ethnicity. 2) According to Canon 28 (4th Ecum. Synod) the Bishop of the CAPITAL (Constantinople) is like a coordinator to help visiting Bishops (from remote cities) to see the Emperor of the Christian Empire for some assistance. Now Istanbul is no Capital, has no Emperor or Head of State and Turkey is not a Christian Country. Panagiotis and some others here do not realize that Kirill obviously regards the situation as a de-facto schism with C. and thus no need to ask permission.
Raphael 12/31/2021 8:44 pm
Panagiotis: Here is another quote from the amazing Panagiotis “ To Mariko, Steve, and Anonymous: God Bless all three of you for speaking the truth... ... Steve, your sarcasm was great. God bless you for becoming educated, and God has blessed you with intelligence. I hope all three of you continue to post your comments on this forum.. Just my humble opinion.” all you do is copy, paste, copy paste. No one really cares about your hellenic pride opinion! It’s like listening to a nazi talk about the Arian race! As one of the brothers in the comment section said, you are your people are no longer orthodox! You need to converted all over again, from all the lies you people have embraced, especially the pathetic lie of hellenism! When will you convert to Christianity ?
Afanassy12/31/2021 8:07 pm
Few seem to realize the MAGNITUDE of the schism enacted by the (so-called) Ecumenical Patriarch and those who remain in allegiance to him, -- including the Patriarch of Alexandria. It is of the size of Sunni vs Shia Muslims; -- far greater even than (so-called) Roman Catholics vs Evangelical Protestants in the West. Read the Cannons in the "Rudder". There is no "brotherhood" that can be offered to schismatics. They are no longer in The Church, and have damaged it: "What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?" [2 Corinthians 6:15]. The Moscow Patriarchate (MP) had already severed all ties with Alexandria in 2019, and, from its rigorous viewpoint, there simply is no valid Orthodox representation in Africa: So, let's wake up to the New Reality. A New Day has arrived. Canonical Orthodoxy now comes ONLY from the MP and those in communion with her, and nothing else, --- unfortunate as it may be. ==============================================
Claes12/31/2021 7:43 pm
Greeks are always doing catch-up, trying to look busier than they actually are, as though they had a sign in the office saying, “Jesus is coming: look busy!” Until very recently Alexandria took absolutely no interest in SubSaharan Africa and all the Black people in it, concerning themselves exclusively with the souls of Greek-speaking people on the Mediterranean littoral, celebrating and preaching exclusively in Greek. It is laudable that they began in recent decades to make outreach to Africans of the interior of the continent, even consecrating native hierarchs among them. This missionary activity justified their designation as the Local Church of Africa. I think it still stands, despite Moscow’s invasion of their canonical territory, but Moscow’s actions were chosen because the reasons for it exactly mirror the logic for intervention claimed by Patr. Bartholomew in the very much larger and more egregious invasion of Ukraine. I think ‘turnabout is fair play’ is an appropriate phrase here, and Moscow has finally gotten Patr. Theodoros’ attention. His betrayal of Moscow and the whole Orthodox Church, certainly under political and economic pressure from the Phanar and state of Greece, it is clearly demonstrated now, has dire consequences. Theodoros has lost the affection and respect of more than a hundred of his priests. Their dignity was impugned by his fecklessness and cowardice, and the scandal drove them to look elsewhere. Moscow has the actual means to administer African dioceses, probably better than Alexandria can, and we should all be glad these priests didn’t take their flocks to another confession but stayed Eastern Orthodox. Theodoros’ lame vaunting of ‘Greek fathers’ as having preëminence in Africa as opposed to expected promotion of Russian sources of the same Orthodox spirituality with the onset of Russian administration says so much about the explicit Greek ethnic supremacism common among hierarchs of Greek-run churches. When you poke them, they squeak in these pathetic tones. The world has left behind the era of Greek dominance of the Church. They lack the means and the mindset to be able to effectively minister to a changing world where classical culture is no longer the standard. Why should all African Orthodox bow to an ethnic Greek who obviously considers Greeks superior to them, to Slavs, ‘Franks’, and the rest of the world. The Eastern Roman Empire ceased to exist a very long time ago, which is one of the main reasons for Moscow’s autocephaly. Greek hierarchs have for a century now colonized Europe, the Americas and Australia and only exercised the granting of autocephaly in order to take parishes away from Moscow. For them to pretend at victimhood is disingenuous, and the world can see it. I won’t shed a tear for Theodoros. Perhaps he will repent of his betrayal, and perhaps re-earn the loyalty of his priests in Africa.
Steve12/31/2021 7:03 pm
With any luck, perhaps Patriarch Theodore will join as a humble bishop of this new African Exarchate. There could even be a unity council combining the old-world Alexandrian Patriarchate with this new and exciting African Exarchate. What interesting times. Perhaps one day, God-willing, Moscow will even grant this new African Exarchate a tomos of autocephaly.
Mikhail12/31/2021 6:42 pm
Thank you Alexander Leitner. I was going to leave a comment addressing David's continued delusional interpretations, but you addressed it better than I could. The Russians have an obligation to care for the flock that has been scandalized by Constantinople's pernicious schism and heretical statements.
Panagiotis12/31/2021 5:18 pm
To Cat and David: Well said, and God Bless Both of You... I hope both of you continue to leave comments on this website. . Just my humble opinion...
Alexander Leitner12/31/2021 1:37 pm
@David: "With this act, the Moscow Patriarchate has shed any pretense of being "against schism.." Absolute nonsense! The Patriarchate of Moscow has the duty to this. They will not repent, not Bartholomew, not Theodoros, not Ieronymos,.... I would say also in greece! They are schismatics, betrayers....they are not orthodox anymore. Send russian missionaries to Greece to convert people to Orthodoxy again. Call on a Pan-Orthodox Synod, depose Bartholomew and his all followers. And establish missionary Centers. In Istanbul, Athens,.... They are apostates!
Cyprian12/31/2021 1:24 pm
The ones that bash MP and saying recognising schismatics in Ukraine (but not the old calendarists of Greece) are the same in Africa (Those that left have no Bishop ruling over them, not schismatics) are probably the ones that quote St Paisios that the Russians will liberate Constantinople.
Albert Odul Nyanje12/31/2021 9:18 am
The Orthodox Church is one. There is one God Head, one Lord Jesus Christ, one Spirit. There should be no competition and no tension with each other. Each Jurisdiction should respect one another. The Orthodox Church should go back to it's original mandate as preached and taught by her founder Jesus Christ. It should be be away from secularism and worldly piwers and ambitions. But they should be one as our Lord Jesus Christ prayed in the Gospel of John chapter 17
James12/31/2021 6:56 am
Even if this were about ethnicity, as Theodoros seems to think, the dude's literally the head of the African Church, which now includes the whole sub-Saharan continent; and all he can say is how the *Greek* Fathers left a mark on Orthodoxy? Somebody clue this guy in!
Mikhail 12/31/2021 6:56 am
Who cares what this man has to say? He brought himself into communion with a group of Ukrainian laymen who are pretending to be a church. There are 102 priests who want no parts of his schismatic decision...and I am guessing there will be more to follow.
David12/31/2021 4:29 am
With this act, the Moscow Patriarchate has shed any pretense of being "against schism." In doing this, the MP is engaging in the very thing they accuse the EP of in Ukraine. They are invading another Patriarchate's canonical territory, and unilaterally redrawing another Church's boundaries with their "Well, traditionally, Alexandria's territory didn't cover the whole continent" nonsense---neglecting to mention that Alexandria's claim over all of Africa ( no matter how "recent") is recognized by all of the Churches, including Moscow (at least until now). This is a step too far, and the pushback the MP has received online from normally pro-MP commenters is telling, and in my view, encouraging. No doubt there are also Russians who feel that this action is wrong. Moderate supporters of the MP are now likely rethinking their support in light of this.
Cat12/31/2021 12:13 am
Well isn't this the same spirit they despise in the ukrainian tomos issue. What happened to sense of brotherhood and cooperation?
Sagheer Christ 12/31/2021 12:04 am
I live in Pakistan and wanted to learn about orthodox faith because Catholic Church and Martin Luther theory since come into being 1631 ad but orthodox church based on 325 ad but Pakistan has no any institution which can teach us about orthodox church teaching
Menas12/30/2021 10:37 pm
Well what did he think was going to happen after he recognized the Ukrainian schismatics. It wouldn’t be surprising if even more priests left
Theodoros12/30/2021 9:31 pm
Patriarch Theodoros is fully aware of why the Russians have established an exarchate in Africa. He was once a supporter of the canonical church in Ukraine. The Russian church did the right thing and assisted African priests who felt uncomfortable after Alexandria recognized the fake entity in Ukraine. This can all stop tomorrow if patriarch theodoros repents and breaks communion with the fake Ukrainian entity. Alexandria is not a victim and it’s Patriarch is fooling no one by the fake expressions of sorrow.
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