Monday, October 15, 2018

Moscow & Constantinople: a complete break of communion

What does this mean for all the other Churches and their jurisdictions in the US? That is still to be seen. The division of these two Churches does not necessitate everyone "picking a side" as it were. Nor does even necessitate the OCA do anything because, as she understands herself to be an autocephalous Church, what Russia does is not necessarily what the OCA has to do. Still, should what has been widely reported by the news agencies today prove to be true, this is a sad day for us all. We'll hear from Moscow's Department of External Church relations directly today and I expect a stentorian announcement from ROCOR soon.

Minsk (AFP) - The Russian Orthodox Church said Monday it is breaking ties with the Constantinople Patriarchate over its decision to grant independence to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which Moscow does not recognise.

"A decision has been made to rupture full communion with the Constantinople Patriarchate," which means priests from the two churches cannot serve and worshippers cannot take communion together, Hilarion, the bishop in charge of the Russian Orthodox Church's diplomacy, told journalists in Minsk.

Speaking after the meeting of the Holy Synod, or decision-making body, of the Russian Orthodox Church, Hilarion said it does not recognise the decision taken last week by the Constantinople Patriarchate as it has "completely associated itself with the schism".

Moscow considers the Kiev Patriarch Filaret to be a schismatic, a decision Constantinople has backed since the 1990s but reversed last week amid the drive by Ukraine for its own Orthodox Church independent from Moscow.

The Constantinople Patriarchate, a leading Orthodox authority, also overruled its own decision from the 17th century which adjoined Kievan Orthodox churches to Moscow.

Most of the Orthodox parishes in Ukraine have historically been under the umbrella of the Moscow Patriarchate, and many of these may eventually switch to the new independent Ukrainian Orthodox Church, despite Moscow's warnings.

Hilarion said Constantinople's decision to back a schismatic church effectively drives it into a schism. "We cannot be in communication with this church, which is in a schism," he said. "We hope that common sense prevails and that the Constantinople Patriarchate changes its mind."

The decision in Istanbul was "illegal and canonically worthless," he said. "The Russian Orthodox Church does not accept these decisions, it will not follow them. The schism is still a schism and the schismatics are still schismatics," he said.


  1. Knew this was coming. Not as blistering as I thought it would be.

  2. Of course if Constantinople's decision to back a schismatic church effectively drives it into a schism then any church that communes with (backs) Constantinople would by extension also effectively drive that church into schism, yes? Can for example the Antiochian Orthodox church concelebrate with Moscow and Constantinople with neither being in communion with each other?

    1. ROCOR served with the Serbs for years, even as the OCA and MP didn't recognize ROCOR. Yet, that didn't cause them not to serve with the Serbs.

    2. And there are historical precedents for that, like, for example, the Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch being in communion with both Rome and Constantinople, when the two had broken communion.

  3. Sad, but given the circumstances I can't see how the Russians could have done anything less given the EP's dramatic provocation. And I also think the Russian statement is surprisingly restrained. It makes me suspect that there is a lot of discreet back channel diplomacy going on. If there has been any notable expression of support for the EP's behavior from anywhere outside of his omiphorion I have missed it. Every statement that I've seen from other jurisdictions or individual bishops has been to varying degrees critical of the EP.

    Bart may have seriously miscalculated. Time will tell.

    1. I have thought he has been miscalculating since that conference in Crete. When four of your brother Patriarchs tell you thanks but no thanks to a convocation of our august and ancient Church, I'll go out on a limb and say you no longer have primacy.