Patriarch Theodoros accuses Russian Church of “enslaving” Ukrainian Church

Alexandria, January 21, 2022

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Despite his many statements of love and support for the place of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church within the Moscow Patriarchate over the years, Patriarch Theodoros of Alexandria now preaches that the Russian Church, in fact, violently “enslaved” the Ukrainian Orthodox faithful.

On December 29, the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church announced its African Exarchate. The Alexandrian Holy Synod responded earlier this month, after which Pat. Theodoros issued an “Encyclical to the holy clergy and pious people of our ancient Patriarchate of Alexandria and All Africa.”

The hierarchs of the Alexandrian Patriarchate have called the people of Africa to Christ, but now there are “false prophets” and “savage wolves that come in among you and will not spare the flock,” Pat. Theodoros warns, referring to the Russian Synod’s decision, which “threatens to drown the humble Evangelical work of our Apostolic Patriarchate, which has been done with effort, sacrifice and blood for many decades.”

Under the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires, the Church was divided into the Patriarchates of Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem, and the Church of Cyprus, Pat. Theodoros writes, and any issues were always resolved by them.

But in modern times, new states began to ask for their own Church, and “One of them is the Russian Church (Moscow Patriarchate) which became Autocephalous only in 1589, which due to the State in which it was located (Russian Empire) gained great economic power and strength and this created many problems as to how it perceived its role and mission.”

According to the Alexandrian primate, the Russian Church went on to “enslave” many other Churches: “The Russian Church, wanting to increase its power and prestige in the Orthodox World, using secular power and -sometimes- violence, began to trample and ‘enslave’ neighboring Orthodox Churches, as it did with the Metropolis of Kiev in the country of Ukraine, a Metropolis that has always belonged to the Ecumenical Patriarchate.”

This position represents a stark departure from that which he previously held for many decades.

Meeting with Patriarch Kirill in Moscow on August 28, 2015, Pat. Theodoros told the Russian primate:

I know the Ukrainian people and Ukraine well, because I have been to different cities many times, including those where the war is now going on. I ate the same bread that these people eat, stayed in their modest homes. I was in monasteries, talked with their inhabitants, sang with them. Believe me, Your Holiness, my heart is full of pain. I know the true Ukrainian people: they steadfastly adhere to Orthodoxy and remain faithful to their Mother, the Russian Church…

I would like to assure you that the ancient Patriarchate of Alexandria, the Church of Alexandria follows the ancient established order: We always support the canonical Primate, His Beatitude Metropolitan Onufry. And if in the future you need our help, you will definitely receive it, because in our Church we adhere to the canonical order. We must respect and keep this order if we want the Lord to shed His love upon us. Politicians come and go, but Orthodoxy and our faith remain. We are writing history

Following another visit to Russia the next year, Pat. Theodoros stated in an interview:

From the very beginning, when the problem of the Church schism had only just arisen, the Alexandrian Patriarchate and I, as its representative, have taken the position that the Ukrainian Church is an integral part of the Russian Orthodox Church… The ancient Alexandrian Church formulates its position thus: We stand before God together with the Russian Orthodox Church and call for the Orthodox Church to be one and undivided, as it always has been. There is no place for politics in Church matters. Politicians come and go, but the Church abides unto the ages of ages.

And as the suffering Ukrainian Orthodox themselves well remember, after Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople began preaching the new history that the Kiev Metropolis had supposedly always belonged to Constantinople and after it became known that he intended to create a new “church” in Ukraine, Pat. Theodoros personally flew to Ukraine to meet with and show support to the faithful. He entreated them at that time:

I have come here to tell you: Remain in the Orthodox faith, in the canonical Church. The Apostle Peter saw the tunic of Christ torn in the first century. This tunic was bloodstained for many years, and we must carry this tunic in our hearts. There have been very difficult times in the history of our Church. In these difficult days in Ukraine there is a canonical Church, headed by His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry—a blessed man of God and a true monk.

In his new encyclical, Pat. Theodoros continues that after the fall of the USSR, the Russian Church refused autocephaly to “the Ukrainians,” and Constantinople finally stepped in in 2019.

Pat. Theodoros writes that, “Our Patriarchate also agreed with this act of the Ecumenical Patriarchate,” although, in fact, the Alexandrian Synod never took a decision on the matter.

The Russian Church then created the African Exarchate as a means of retaliation, inspired by “colonialism,” the Patriarch writes.

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Justina4/5/2022 6:42 pm
the patriarchate system way preceded the Ottoman empire days!
Mikhail1/23/2022 7:12 pm
No one is finding joy in the tragic schism that Constantinople has created.
Andrew 1/22/2022 6:10 pm
My heart burns. Why the "faithful" seem to find triumphant joy in the sins of men. Lord have mercy on us!
Dmirtiy Ageev1/22/2022 7:26 am
Theodore is lying. Lie on lie. Why, when listing the Churches of the first millennium, does he "forget" the Roman one? The autocephaly of the Russian Church is 1448. Theodore does not want to remember why this happened? Or for compatriots from the CP it's a shame, who went to union with heretics. "Issues have never been resolved" by the Pentarchy. They were decided by the Ecumenical Councils, which included the fullness of the Ecumenical Church of Christ at that time. How many Local Orthodox Churches there are, so many are to be "decided questions" at Pan-Orthodox Councils. There is no point at all in commenting on false inventions about the "capture" of Ukrainians. Patriarch Dionysius IV of Constantinople (Komnenos) with a synodal charter of 1686 and transferred the Kiev (meaning that part of the original Kiev metropolis, namely the Kiev-Lithuanian, which finally separated from the other part - Vladimir-Moscow in 1458) the metropolis of the Moscow Patriarchate. No one held a knife to anyone's throat. They themselves voluntarily transferred it, because they could not really manage it. I don’t even want to talk about the hypocrisy of Theodore and his “elder brother” Bartholomew in relation to the only canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate. It's just disgusting. The only thing I would like to note is that our Church has not denied autocephaly to any Ukrainians. Orthodox Ukrainians did not aspire to any kind of autocephaly. And the real autonomy of the Ukrainian Church was granted back in 1991. And no one owes anything to the schismatics - Ukrainian ethno-phyletists.
Tom1/22/2022 1:40 am
Jesse, you realise people can change their minds, or you're not aware of this phenomenon?
Mikhail1/21/2022 11:13 pm
He has just revealed his true a hypocrite and a schismatic.
Alexander Leitner1/21/2022 8:34 pm
Sorry, but now he is insane! He can not be taken seriously anymore.
Steve1/21/2022 5:34 pm
St. Paul exhorts, "Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ". Thus, slavery isn't necessarily a bad thing. Many people voluntarily choose to live their life in slavery, and there's nothing intrinsically wrong with that. Is marriage not a form of slavery? Other people are enslaved involuntarily, but they too can live happily and in obedience to their masters. We shouldn't be quick to condemn the happy life of a slave.
Alex1/21/2022 4:41 pm
Patriarch Theodoros, you created this mess for yourself. So, be a real bishop and admit that you made a very bad move by recognizing the Ukrainian schismatics. The Orthodox world is watching...and waiting.
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