MOSCOW – The Patriarchate of Moscow, in a desperate move, is attempting to destroy the unity of Orthodox Church by its recent decision, which has been labelled anti-ecclesiastical, to interrupt Eucharistic communion with the Patriarchate of Alexandria by removing the name of Patriarch Theodore from its Diptychs. The main reason for the move was the recognition of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine and the commemoration of Metropolitan Epiphanios by Patriarch Theodore of Alexandria.
It is reminded here that His Beatitude Patriarch Theodore of Alexandria, following the lead of Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens and All Greece, who first commemorated, when he was with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, the name of the new Metropolitan of Kiev and All Ukraine Epiphanios, also commemorated him, thus recognizing officially the new Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Ukraine.
The commemoration took place during the Patriarchal Divine Liturgy in Cairo in the Church of the Archangels in Dahir, where Egypt’s largest Arabic-speaking Orthodox community lives.
Patriarch Theodore in his speech said among other things that, “from here in Cairo, the capital of Egypt, I would like to talk about a great event for our Church. The Patriarchate of Alexandria, which is the second in rank [among the ancient patriarchates], after much prayer and consideration, in the presence of the Holy Hierarchs, in the presence of His Excellency Ambassador of Greece, I would like to officially announce that our Patriarchate [commemorated] today the Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Ukraine and His Beatitude Metropolitan Epiphanios.”
Patriarch Theodore also said that “I have served for so many years the Church, and I know that from today, with the mercy of God, the solution to this great issue for our Church will be resolved. Unity, love, hope, will come” and he added that “through our struggles, our efforts, we will see Christ be in our midst.”
Afterwards, the Exarch of the Patriarchate of Alexandria in Athens, Metropolitan Georgios of Guinea, read the official announcement signed by His Beatitude Patriarch Theodore.
The Patriarchate of Alexandria and All Africa had recently been in the spotlight, with stifling pressure being exerted on the part of the Patriarchate of Moscow to not proceed with the recognition of the Autocephaly of the Church of Ukraine granted last January by the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
Patriarch Theodore had been wavering for many months with a wait-and-see attitude, avoiding taking a public position on the issue. However, both he and the people close to him had made it clear from the first moment that at the appropriate time the Patriarchate of Alexandria would make a move corresponding to its position and history, making clear, implicitly but necessarily, that the Patriarchate of Alexandria did not intend to succumb to the pressures.
The official announcement of Patriarchate of Alexandria reads as follows:
“In the past month, we took note of the willingness of the Holy brethren Hierarchs to recognize the Autocephaly Tomos granted by His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew to the Autocephalous Church of Ukraine. As is well known, our Holy Catholic Orthodox Church is governed with the synodical system, as inherited by the tradition and the Holy Ecumenical Councils. To this end, the presidents of the local church councils are the synthesis of its members.
Consequently, we, as a constituent and effective principle of the willingness of the Holy brethren Hierarchs, commemorated and included in the Diptychs of the Catholic Orthodox Church, the Primate of Autocephalous Church of Ukraine, His Beatitude Metropolitan Epiphanios of Kiev and All Ukraine, while wholeheartedly praying for peace and stability of our Orthodox Churches.”
According to Moscow Patriarchate’s spokesman, Vladimir Legoida, the Moscow Patriarchate severed full communion with the Head of the Church of Alexandria but it remains in full communion with the Metropolitans of Alexandria who did not agree with Patriarch Theodore and did not recognize the Orthodox Church of Ukraine. He added that the Moscow Patriarchate had not severed full communion with the Archbishop of Athens and the Metropolitans of the Church of Greece either.
The Patriarchate of Moscow has, however, cut ties with Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens and All Greece for the same reason.
The Moscow Patriarchate also decided to abolish the Exarchate of the Patriarchate of Alexandria in Moscow and convert the Exarchate of the Moscow Patriarchate in Alexandria into a Russian church. In addition, the Moscow Patriarchate decided to withdraw from the jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Alexandria the parishes of the Russian Church located on the African continent and to make them stavropegic monasteries.
The Russian officials are also using Patriarch Theophilos of Jerusalem in their attempt to create wider divisions in the Orthodox Church. They invited him in November to Moscow and honored him with the Patriarch Alexios Award. Theophilos met with President Vladimir Putin and Patriarch Kirill in Moscow and the next day he announced that he is going to convene a Synaxis of the Prelates of the Patriarchates and Autocephalous Churches in Jordan. It is reminded that only the Ecumenical Patriarch has the right and the privilege to convene such a Synaxis.