Moscow, January 28, 2022
The hierarchs of the Russian Synod consider that the Alexandrian document “distorts the true causes and circumstances of the formation of the Exarchate,” attributing it to “the fact of the recognition of the autocephaly of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church” by Patriarch Theodoros of Alexandria.
“Such a statement is based on a deliberately false thesis,” the Russian Synod states, given that the Ukrainian Orthodox Church was and is an autonomous part of the Russian Orthodox Church, which neither sought nor received a so-called tomos of autocephaly from Constantinople. On the contrary, it “resolutely rejected” the whole process imposed upon it by the schismatics and the state, wishing instead to “maintain unity with the Moscow Patriarchate.”
Instead, the “so-called autocephaly” was granted to “schismatics who have fallen away from [the Church] and continue to feel enmity against it.”
“It was with this schismatic, graceless structure that His Beatitude Patriarch Theodoros of Alexandria entered into communion,” the statement affirms.
The Russian Church isn’t responsible for distorting ecclesiology, as the Alexandrian charges, but rather the Patriarchate of Constantinople, “which lawlessly invaded Ukraine,” the Russian Synod states.
Constantinople, with its claim to being “First Without Equals,” with the right to arbitrarily give and rescind autocephaly, to take over parts of other Local Churches, to unilaterally revoke inter-Church documents and cancel the decisions of the Bishops’ Councils of other Churches, and to arbitrarily “restore” holy orders to those who never had them, has “undoubtedly depart[ed] from the Patristic teaching about the Church and centuries-old Orthodox Tradition.”
The Russian Synod recalls how Pat. Theodoros used to support the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and recognize it as “an integral part of the Russian Orthodox Church.” He used to counsel the faithful to remain true to the canonical Church, the Synod recalls.
As the Russian Synod recalls, this decision was rejected by a large number of Alexandrian clerics who didn’t want to be under a hierarch “who embarked on the path of schism.”
The Russian Church waited for two years while it received numerous appeals from African clergy, but Pat. Theodoros continued in schism, even concelebrating with various schismatic “hierarchs,” including “Metropolitan” Epiphany Dumenko, as aforementioned.
“These sad events convinced the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church of the need to respond to the received appeals and form a Patriarchal Exarchate in Africa in these exceptional circumstances.”
To create the Exarchate was a “difficult decision,” and is “in no way an expression of a claim to the canonical territory of the ancient Church of Alexandria,” but aims only at “giving canonical protection to those Orthodox clerics in Africa who do not want to participate in the lawless legitimization of the schism in Ukraine,” the Synod writes.
“We call upon His Beatitude Patriarch Theodoros II of Alexandria and the archpastors of the Most Holy Church of Alexandria to abandon support for the Ukrainian schism and return to the canonical path in order to preserve the unity of holy Orthodoxy,” the statement concludes.