Arusha, Tanzania, February 10, 2022
Metropolitan Agathonikos of Arusha and Central Tanzania is the latest hierarch of the Patriarchate of Alexandria to issue a statement about the new Russian Exarchate.
His “Open letter to all those involved in the issue of the Russian invasion of the Patriarchate of Alexandria” is published by the Constantinople outlet Fos Fanariou and other sites.
The Alexandrian hierarch begins by recounting the story of King David when he impregnated Bathsheba, had her husband killed, and took her as his wife, which was evil in the sight of the Lord. Nathan the Prophet then told the King a story, comparing him to a rich shepherd who already had much but took what little a poor shepherd had (2 Sam./2 Kg. 12).
The parallels with the “immoral invasion by the Russians” are clear, the Metropolitan says. The Apostles and Fathers laid down rules at the Councils precisely to erect moral barriers to “savage wolves” (Acts 20:29) and their greed, he adds.
As a hierarch, he protests against the actions of the Russian Church, which bear no ecclesiastical character.
The Russian Church and Russian politicians sometimes exchange medals, which makes it seem like the Patriarchate is merely an “outpost of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,” Met. Agathonikos says.
The Metropolitan then poses a number of rhetorical questions to the Russian Church:
- Who gave autocephaly to the Churches that are now protesting Ukrainian autocephaly? Was it not Constantinople?
- Are African priests really leaving because of Ukraine, or is it for financial benefits?
Met. Agathonikos claims there is a list being circulated of promised benefits to priests who join the Russian Exarchate: high salaries, privileged staff positions, a 5-door car for every priest, health care, priestly seminars, priests’ children will study in Moscow universities, and so on. OrthoChristian has been unable to confirm the existence of such a document.
“Who in their right mind,” the Metropolitan asks, “would believe you that the African Clerics called you to ‘protect’ them from the evil Greeks, when if you ask any African cleric where Ukraine is on the map, he can’t answer you?”
Thus, who actually stirred up the African priests and why? he asks.
- How can an Orthodox Synod make such hostile decisions on the basis of the Gospel of Christ, thereby “abolishing all the holy canons of the Apostolic and Ecumenical Councils?”
The Alexandrian hierarch believes that the Russian claim that Africa is now open territory because Alexandria has fallen into schism is but a pretext for expansionism and imperialism, and that the Russian Synod is shooting itself in the foot by violating Tradition.
- Met. Agathonikos claims that the majority of clerics he sees in pictures with the Russian “agents” are actually defrocked or self-ordained clerics. Thus, how can the Russian Church reject the so-called “Orthodox Church of Ukraine” on the grounds that its clergy are defrocked and schismatic?
Several African hierarchs have made this argument, though without providing specific names. Incidentally, OrthoChristian was recently contacted by an African priest of the schismatic “Genuine Orthodox Church of Greece” who was told by Fr. George Maximov of the Russian Church that his ordination is unrecognized and that he could only be received into the Church as a layman.
The Russian Church should stop lying, Met. Agathonikos says, because its actual purpose is simply to create a worldwide Patriarchate.
According to him, the Russian Church follows and is financed by President Putin, and thus is guilty of secularism and ethnophyletism.
Recall that both political and ecclesiastical figures publicly acknowledge that the “Orthodox Church of Ukraine” was a joint project between the Patriarchate of Constantinople and the U.S. and Ukrainian governments. It’s also an open secret that Pat. Theodoros recognized the schismatics under pressure from the Greek state, upon which the Alexandrian Patriarchate is financially dependent.
In conclusion, Met. Agathonikos tells Metropolitan Hilarion of the Russian Church’s Department for External Church Relations that African Christians aren’t in need of Russian protection (as Met. Hilarion said recently), but the Russian Church needs them to institutionalize its lawlessness.
However, it will achieve nothing but global outrage, the Alexandrian hierarch concludes.