Moscow, January 25, 2022
The Russian Church’s African Exarchate began on December 29 with 102 African priests who had petitioned to be received into the Moscow Patriarchate.
That number has already grown by several dozens, according to Metropolitan Leonid of Klin, the Patriarchal Exarch of Africa.
In an interview on the Orthodox television station Spas yesterday, the Metropolitan said: “The number of clerics is growing. When the Holy Synod made its decision on December 29, 2021, there were 102, and today there are 150 from more than 12 countries.”
In response to accusations that the Russian Church is receiving defrocked or schismatic priests, the Metropolitan said that every cleric who petitions to join the Russian Church is thoroughly checked before a decision is made.
The Russian Holy Synod announced the creation of its African Exarchate late last month. The Exarchate consists of a Diocese of Northern Africa and a Diocese of Southern Africa. According to Met. Leonid, hierarchs will soon be appointed to these dioceses and Russian priests will soon arrive to begin missionary and catechetical work.
“But we place a big stake on the indigenous population,” His Eminence emphasized.
The Alexandrian Holy Synod strongly condemned the Russian Synod’s decision, calling it a distortion of ecclesiology and evangelical love, and a manifestation of ethnophyletism and “neocolonialism.”
The Patriarchs of Constantinople and Alexandria are hoping to meet with the primates of the Churches of Antioch, Jerusalem, and Cyprus to condemn the Russian Church’s move into Africa, though the participation of His Beatitude Patriarch John of Antioch and His Beatitude Patriarch Theophilos of Jerusalem is questionable, given their good relations with the Russian Church and their stance against the Ukrainian schismatics.