Tirana, Albania, March 13, 2023
As it has done several times over the past few years, the Albanian Orthodox Church is again urgently calling for a pan-Orthodox council to address issues of Church unity.
In its statement issued on Saturday, the Holy Synod specifically mentions the ecclesiastical tragedies in Africa and Ukraine.
The statement came out just a day after it became known that the Ukrainian state intends to completely expel holy Orthodoxy from the Kiev Caves Lavra by the end of the month. Recall that the Albanian Church continues to stand by the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church under His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine, refusing to recognize Constantinople’s schismatic “Orthodox Church of Ukraine” organization.
Regarding Africa, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia stopped commemorating Patriarch Theodoros of Alexandria during the Divine services in December 2019 in response to the latter’s unilateral recognition of the Ukrainian schismatics. Two years later, given the Alexandrian Synod’s failure to reject the decision of Pat. Theodoros and following his concelebration with Epiphany Dumenko—the head of the Ukrainian schismatics—the Russian Synod resolved to create an African Exarchate covering the entire canonical territory of the Patriarchate of Alexandria, beginning with 102 priests from various African countries who requested reception into the Moscow Patriarchate in protest of Pat. Theodoros’ communion with schismatics. Since then, the Russian Church has been receiving clergy and parishes and establishing new communities throughout the Patriarchate of Alexandria’s territory. In November 2022, Alexandria responded by defrocking Metropolitan Leonid of Klin, the Russian Church’s African Exarch, and Pat. Theodoros also dropped Pat. Kirill from liturgical commemorations.
Given these tragic situations, the Albanian Church is calling for a pan-Orthodox council as soon as possible. An English translation of the Synodal statement was published at the Mystagogy Resource Center:
On the occasion of recent publications on the internet, the Church of Albania clarifies that it will not be drawn into the method of counter-complaints, rebuttals, insults, inaccuracies and slanders, as attempted by incompetent laymen on internet sites.
The Albanian Orthodox Church, therefore, declares in all directions that it is not prepared to publicize on the internet and in general in the mass media its opinions and judgments, regarding the attitude and behavior of other Local Orthodox Churches and their primates.
The painful ecclesiastical problems that have arisen in recent years and recently in Africa, as a result of the clear cracks in the relations of the Local Orthodox Churches and the widespread concern of the Orthodox believers, cannot be solved by the method of chain retaliation by specific Churches and by collecting a consensus from the rest through the mass media.
The responsible opinion of the Orthodox Autocephalous Church of Albania is expressed through official ecclesiastical correspondence, in the announcements of the Archsecretariat and will be directly submitted to the competent body, the Pan-Orthodox Synod or Synaxis, which, in accordance with the principle of synodality, is the only one empowered to resolve basic problems and to ensure the unity and peace of the worldwide Orthodox Church.
As the unprecedented calamity of Orthodoxy in Ukraine intensifies and the unspeakable suffering of the Orthodox believers peaks, a Pan-Orthodox response is required as soon as possible.
However, despite his repeated calls for a pan-Orthodox council, Archbishop Anastasios of Albania chose not to attend the pan-Orthodox gathering hosted by the Patriarchate of Jerusalem in 2020, because he believes only the Patriarchate of Constantinople has the authority to gather hierarchs together.
Thus, the Albanian Church’s new statement concludes:
A Pan-Orthodox Synod, as is known, is convened by the Ecumenical Patriarch, which convenes and acts, even if some Local Churches are absent, as was the case with the Holy and Great Synod of the Orthodox Church in Crete in 2016.