Kenya, February 18, 2022
All priests in Kenya who have joined the Russian Church’s African Exarchate have been suspended indefinitely by their respective hierarchs of the Patriarchate of Alexandria.
The relevant decree is signed by Archbishop Makarios of Nairobi, Bishop Neofitos of Nyeri and Mt. Kenya, Archimandrite Anastasios (Kihali) on behalf of the Diocese of Kisumu and Western Kenya, and Protopresbyter Makarios Ngugui, chairman of the African Orthodox Church of Kenya, who gathered yesterday to discuss how to “enhance the growth and development of our Church,” in the words of Bp. Neofitos.
Interestingly, Archimandrite Anastasios is one of three African priests who visited Moscow in the fall of 2020 to express interest in joining the Russian Church.
To join the Russian Exarchate, priests sign an oath of loyalty to the Moscow Patriarchate. As OrthoChristian reported last month, the Diocese of Kisumu and other Alexandrian dioceses were calling on their clergy to return and sign oaths of loyalty to the Alexandrian Patriarchate. Bishop Marcos warned at that time that joining the Russian Exarchate would endanger their priesthood.
Bp. Neofitos reports that the Kenyan hierarchs and clergy will no longer be silent in the face of problems in the Church:
Silence in our church has been the norm. We have watched things happen to our detriment as a Kenyan Church with no reaction or change to solve the problem. Now, we have known that when you dont like something you change it, and if you cant change it, change your way of thinking.!
Today we had a fruitful meeting with the leaders of African Orthodox Church of Kenya (AOCK) in order to change what we dont like or think differently. There are so many things that have happened which have pulled us back for so many years which we must change. We cant be silent anymore. We will be communicating on the next meeting soon which will now be expanded so that we can harness all positive ideas to ehance growth and development of our Church. Just know that we will be thinking differently, seeing differently, acting differently, yes, we will be more focused for real change on what we dont like.
The decree signed by the aforementioned hierarchs and priests shows that part of their plans moving forward is to deal with the priests who have joined the Russian Exarchate.
The decree reads:
Following the creation of [the] Russian exarchate in Africa by the Moscow Patriarchate it has come to our attention that some of our clergy have been wooed to join the Church of Russia. We regret to inform you, that their decision to hold meetings, celebrate the Divine Liturgy with one priest from Russia, the taking of [an] oath and swearing their allegiance to the Russian Church goes against the canonical norms of the ancient Orthodox Church. For these reasons, we have suspended them indefinitely. We ask all the clergy and faithful to be vigilant of their mission and [the] strange teaching on [the] church schism as claimed by the Russian Church… Christ’s calling, His Apostles’ teachings and our forefathers have taught us to remain united in His Holy Church. We want to stress that despite what has happened, the Church doors remain opened to anyone who seeks for repentance and forgiveness.
Earlier, Archbishop Ignatios of Antananarivo and North Madagascar of the Patriarchate of Alexandria warned his priests that joining the Russian Church would mean they are no longer priests, they are out of the Church, and they are in danger of going to hell.