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Guest Viewpoints

“Church Secularized and Hierarchy Involved in Politics” – The example of the Patriarchate of Moscow

April 28, 2022
By Metropolitan Chrysostomos of Messinia - Special to TNH

The latest developments, on the occasion of the anti-canonical and anti-ecclesiastical invasion of the Moscow Patriarchate in Africa, a [violation of the] canonical and non-negotiable [boundary] of the jurisdiction of the Ancient and Renowned Patriarchate of Alexandria, once again showed the ecclesiastical pathogenesis of the Patriarchate of Moscow, which since the 16th  century enjoys the goods of Autocephaly and Patriarchal Honor and Value, but for five centuries, does not cease to claim ecclesiastical administration either in the Balkans, with zones of influence and ecclesiastical and political satellites, or in the wider geographical area of the Mediterranean, and to show its expansive dispositions in areas of particular geopolitical and geophysical interest.

With its diachronic tactic, the Patriarchate of Moscow confirms that, on the one hand, it never accepted the canonical limits of its territorial regularity, as sufficient to be pastorally active, and always tried to go beyond them, and on the other hand, using as a vehicle its ecclesiology, from time to time tried to serve either political and secular expediencies, or to satisfy its old imperial aspirations and to realize its unhistorical ecclesiological ideology regarding the ‘Third Rome’.

This mutual cooperation of secularism and ecclesiology is the timeless method of action of the Russian Church and the State, both in political areas of influence and in ecclesiastical jurisdictions, mainly in the form of various colonial ecclesiastical formations. This mutual cooperation is reflected in the latest Statutory Charter of the Church of Russia and is confirmed by the secularized activity of the Church of Moscow, which supports any secular pursuit, while in the presence of secular power, it can satisfy any expediency. Operators of this secularized function of this Church are members of the ecclesiastical Hierarchy of Moscow, which act as instruments of the respective secular power and with their hierarchical role govern the depiction of its work.

All this has been characteristically expressed in the latest statements of some Hierarchs of the Moscow Patriarchate, who with threats, revenge decisions, claims, sabotage, illegal methods, and anti-church arguments confirm their political and secularized voluntary disposition for the African area, presenting as an argument the supposed recognition of the Autocephaly of the Church of Ukraine by the Patriarchate of Alexandria. But the truth is elsewhere. The Russian Church has other motives and serves other purposes. It would be naive on our part to believe that this irregular way of invasion in the ecclesiastical area of the Patriarchate of Alexandria would ‘solve’ another, in their opinion, ecclesiastical and canonical ‘disorder’!!!

These are wrong ways, tactics, and methods, because churches are not blackmailed; they do not take revenge; they do not solve their bilateral problems with the method ‘stake against  stake’ or with the argument ‘teeth instead of teeth’, but in canonical terms. Moreover, such an extensive lack of knowledge of the canonical tradition for the creation of an ecclesiastical Exarchate in Africa by the Moscow Patriarchate is not justified by renowned [theologian-hierarchs]. Even a first-year student of a theological school knows and can distinguish the canonical and non-negotiable terms at the level of the relations between churches and Orthodox ecclesiology.

So in this case, as in the past, is it likely that the secularized, in the way of action, Church of Moscow through a political Hierarchy, tries to create accomplished facts, through ecclesiastical enclosures, in Africa, ignoring the legal limits of the Patriarchate of Alexandria, in order to serve again the secular expediencies of a foreign policy now oriented to the area of the African Continent?

Do these secularized ecclesiastical enclosures serve expansive political aspirations, and is the ruling Hierarchy used as a means to influence, invade, and consolidate political circumstances in Africa, and in order to satisfy the propagandistic spread of general geopolitical and geophysical interests both of the Russian Church and of the State?

The Blessed Patriarch of Alexandria, Parthenios, many years ago, emphasized that Africa is the place of the future, because of its geophysical and geopolitical peculiarity and its natural wealth.

The impudent, anti-ecclesiastical and irregular way in which the leaders of the Moscow Patriarchate decide to impose themselves in the area of jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Alexandria is [justified] as revenge against the positive attitude of the Patriarchate of Alexandria to the Autocephaly of Ukraine. This is the reason, but the causes and the aims are different, deeper, and more substantial, which should concern not only the other Orthodox Churches of the Mediterranean but also the wider political factor, especially about the way in which the Church of Moscow operates in a secular way and its Hierarchs act, possibly with the ultimate goal of changing any geopolitical balance existing up to this date in the wider region.

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