Alexandria, Egypt, January 12, 2022
The Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Alexandria held a three-day session this week. One of the main items on its agenda was to formulate a response to the Russian Holy Synod’s recent creation of an African Exarchate and the reception of 102 African priests into its jurisdiction.
The Alexandrian Synod’s statement on the matter is published on Romfea and other outlets.
The hierarchs refer to the “non-canonical and anti-ecclesiastical invasion of the Patriarchate of Russia, creating new ‘church forms in Africa.’”
The Synod declares that such a move from the Russian Church was “unexpected.” Soon after Patriarch Theodoros changed his principled position and began commemorating the Ukrainian schismatics in the Divine services in 2019, he stated that he thought his decision would lead to healing rather than more division.
The Alexandrian hierarchs also state that the creation of the Russian Exarchate is “direct retaliation” and “blackmail or revenge against us,” and that its initial priests include some who were either in schism or who never belonged to the Patriarchate of Alexandria.
Fr. George Maximov, a Russian priest who is personally acquainted with many of the priests who have joined the Russian Exarchate, has said that this is not true, and that all the priests are from the Alexandrian Patriarchate. OrthoChristian has been informed by its own contacts in Africa that all the priests are canonical, though some had poor relations with their hierarchs.
The Russian Synod is attempting to change Orthodox ecclesiology, motivated by the “virus of ethnophyletism,” the Alexandrian hierarchs state.
They also accuse the Russian Synod of a “secular spirit,” a desire for “neocolonialism,” and “a claim to global primacy on the poor African continent.”
Thus, the Alexandrian Synod expresses its “great displeasure” with Patriarch Kirill and the Russian Synod.
The borders of each Local Church are clear, the Alexandrian hierarchs state, and they “have never invaded the borders of any Local Sister Church, especially the Russian Church.” The creation of the Russian Exarchate is a “disgusting blow” that “distorts evangelical love.”
“These methods grossly violate the essence of our Orthodox faith, especially in such a sensitive area as the mission in Africa,” the Alexandrian Synod writes.
Thus, the Patriarchate will inform Constantinople and the primates of the Local Churches about “the painful confusion occurring among the ‘children born of us in Christ,’ faithful Africans, as a result of the visible and invisible actions of authorized persons of the Russian Church.”
The Synod also states that it will apply canonical penalties to those who violate the canons.