Russian Synod responds to Alexandrian Synod about African Exarchate

Moscow, January 28, 2022

Metropolitan Leonid of Klin, the Russian Patriarchal Exarch in Africa. Photo: Metropolitan Leonid of Klin, the Russian Patriarchal Exarch in Africa. Photo:     

Having read and discussed the Alexandrian Holy Synod’s communiqué of January 12 concerning the recent creation of a Russian Exarchate in Africa, the Russian Holy Synod issued its own response today.

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.

However, on November 8, 2019, Pat. Theodoros suddenly began commemorating the schismatics in the Divine services, and on August 13, 2021, he concelebrated with the primate of the schismatic OCU.

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.

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J. Burnham2/1/2022 12:37 am
After reading these developments, it's becoming increasingly needful for the Orthodox Kosmos to conduct a Pan-Orthodox Synod to finally address and condemn the ills coming out of Constantinople. It should be obvious to anyone who's studied the most elementary facts of ecclesiastical history that Patriarch Bartholomew is committing the very same errors as the Pope of Rome committed prior to the Great Schism of 1054.
Vladimir M. Bogdanov1/29/2022 4:59 pm
"Scribes and pharisees..."
Alexander Leitner1/29/2022 1:06 pm
In the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad we are in communion with some Old Believers.
Ivan G. 1/29/2022 11:46 am
@Georgs Matiss Thank you for your answer. Really difficult situations, but Glory to God who loves us and He will help the righteous.
Georgs Matiss1/29/2022 8:00 am
Ivan G.They did protest. The bishops of the Patriarchate of Alexandria began to cut their salaries and threatened them with a ban on their service and defrocking.
Common Sense1/29/2022 3:56 am
You guys at OrthoChristian and SPZH do realize that the priest is the background is an Old Believer cleric from Uganda, right?
Ivan G,1/28/2022 8:03 pm
What if they just protested and didn’t commemorated Pat. Theodoros?
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