Alexandria, January 20, 2022
While he says he was trying to help Church unity by recognizing the schismatic “Orthodox Church of Ukraine,” Patriarch Theodoros of Alexandria has also admitted that his decision, in fact, brought the opposite effect, according to a statement from another hierarch of the Alexandrian Patriarchate.
A few days after commemorating “Metropolitan” Epiphany Dumenko in the Divine services for the first time in November 2019, the Patriarch told journalists that his decision to recognize the schismatics won’t lead to any new divisions in the Church, but rather to a solution of the Ukrainian crisis.
He also expressed the conviction that Patriarch Kirill of Moscow wouldn’t stop commemorating him in the Divine services.
The Russian Synod confirmed just a month and a half later that Pat. Kirill could no longer commemorate him.
Since then, hundreds of African clergy have petitioned to be received into the Russian Church, and late last month, the Russian Church resolved to create an African Exarchate covering both the ancient and modern territory of the Alexandrian Patriarchate. While the Alexandrian Patriarch predicted no new divisions, as His Beatitude Archbishop Anastasios of Albania writes, the schism has now spread to Africa.
In response to the Russian Church’s claim to Africa, Bishop Neofitos of Nyeri and Mt. Kenya issued a statement to Kenyan priests on his Facebook page.
“It is true,” he writes, “as described that the Russian Church is invading into a territory, or, they are up on an act of punishment to our Patriarchate because of standing together with other canonical jurisdictions concerning the Ukraine issue.”
Bp. Neofitos continues: “However, it should be known that our Patriarch did not do so because of any ignorance, ill motive or provocation to the Russian Church which he so loves and respects. In his own words he says ‘In my so doing, I thought I was helping to foster peace, unity and reconciliation.’”
“’Unfortunately, it turned out to be the opposite.’” Thus, the Alexandrian primate acknowledges that his decision had unintended consequences.
Interestingly, although the Alexandrian Synod declared that it was surprised by the Russian Church’s move into Africa, Metropolitan Seraphim of Zimbabwe warned back in 2019 that that exact thing would happen if they recognized the schismatics.
And given the increasing schisms, Pat. Theodoros is now hoping to gather the primates of only the Churches of Constantinople, Antioch, Jerusalem, and Cyprus to address the problem.