Alexandria, Egypt, March 6, 2023
Pat. Theodoros (left) serving with the schismatic Epiphany Dumenko (right). Photo: Orthodoxia News Agency
The Russian Orthodox Church’s rejection of the autocephaly of the so-called “Orthodox Church of Ukraine” and its creation of the African Exarchate must be immediately condemned by all the Local Orthodox Churches, the Patriarch of Alexandria said on Sunday.
Patriarch Theodoros celebrated the Divine Liturgy for the Triumph of Orthodoxy in Alexandria with “Metropolitan” Epiphany of Kiev, the primate of the schismatic OCU, which the Alexandrian primate has recognized since 2019.
Hitting upon issues of Church unity, Pat. Theodoros dedicated the bulk of his address to Epiphany to the issue of the Russian Church and its African Exarchate, which has been operating on the canonical territory of the Patriarchate for Alexandria for over a year now.
Both Pat. Theodoros and the Alexandrian Holy Synod have candidly expressed their views of the Russian Church several times recently.
In his speech on Sunday, Pat. Theodoros argues that in rejecting the OCU and breaking communion with those Churches and primates who do recognize it and in creating the African Exarchate, the Russian Church has forgotten and is ungrateful for the role that Patriarchs of Constantinople and Alexandria of the 16th century played in recognizing its autocephaly and Patriarchal status.
The Patriarch declares:
Today, therefore, the Sunday of Orthodoxy of the salvific year 2023, we give in the most official way our own answer in every direction:
No Synodal decision of a Senior Church gives the right to another Church—and especially a chronologically younger one—to violate the firm sacred canons and commit intrusion into the jurisdiction of the former.
No Synodal decision of a Senior Church gives the right to another Church—and especially a chronologically younger one—to develop innovative ecclesiological-political “theories” about spreading the Russian world around the globe based on nationality, completely unknown in Orthodox ecclesiology, which has already been condemned by the Synod of our Patriarchate.
In addition to condemning “Russian ecclesiology,” the Alexandrian Synod and Synodal Court have also declared Metropolitan Leonid of Klin, the Russian Church’s African Exarchate, and two priests defrocked, and ruled that Pat. Theodoros should cease commemorating Patriarch Kirill in the Divine service (Pat. Kirill stopped commemorating Pat. Theodoros already in 2019).
And calling upon the fullness of global Orthodoxy, Pat. Theodoros continues:
All these ecclesiologically-sensitive issues we place before the responsibility of all the Local Orthodox Churches, expecting their immediate condemnation of these illegal and unholy actions and the unheard of ecclesiological and political “theories” of the Patriarchate of Moscow, which may soon come knocking at their own doors with imaginary accusations, but with dramatic pan-Orthodox consequences.
Already a year ago, the Patriarchates of Constantinople and Alexandria were planning to gather the primates of the ancient autocephalous Churches (Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, Jerusalem, Cyprus) to condemn the Russian Church, but their plans had to be set aside due to the Patriarchs of Antioch and Jerusalem’s unwillingness to participate.
Both Patriarchs have, on the other hand, joined in the calls from throughout the entire Church for a pan-Orthodox council to be held to discuss all the issues of Church unity that presently plague the Church.
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