Unclarity about commemoration of Patriarch Kirill in Orthodox churches abroad

28-03-2022

Eastern Europe

Lennart Nijenhuis, CNE.news

Children sing prayers during a service in the cathedral of the eastern Ukrainian city of Slavyansk in 2014. Photo AFP, Genya Savilov

It is unclear whether the Orthodox Churches are allowed not to mention Patriarch Kirill of Moscow in their prayers. Last week, it was reported that the bishops had decided that churches had this freedom. But now, Moscow denies this.

The news platform Orthodoxy in Dialogue reported that the so-called Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR) had decided to let the churches free. Many Russian Orthodox parishes in the West are in a dilemma, since the society asks a condemnation of the Moscow Patriarchate, instead of prayers. In that context, the initial report by Orthodoxy in Dialogue seemed to be logical.

Orthodoxy in Dialogue advocated the decision. "Our readers will remember our Open letter to the hierarchs, clergy, monastics and faithful of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia", the website read.

But later, the church denied this report. According to Ria Novosti, it is not true that the bishops have taken such a decision.

Sumy diocese does no longer commemorate Patriarch Kirill

One of the congregations that decided not to pray for Patriarch Kirill during sermons anymore is the Ukrainian Orthodox diocese in the Sumy region. The diocese was hit hard by the Russian troops. Now, the diocese no longer wants to commemorate Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All of Russia. According to several archpriests and others, the Russian Patriarch implicitly supports the violence in Ukraine. "We condemn the criminal and brutal war waged by the Russian Federation against Ukraine and the Ukrainian people, which is de facto supported by Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia. We inform you that we will stop commemorating the Patriarch from now on. At the same time, we remain faithful to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and express our love and full support to our Primate."

Incident in Amsterdam

A few weeks later, the Russian Orthodox Church in Amsterdam in the Netherlands stopped commemorating Patriarch Kirill. They did so after the Patriarch spoke out his support for Putin's policies in a speech. After its decision, the Church in Amsterdam was visited by Archbishop Elisey. The parish experienced this visit as a threat from Moscow. However, Archbishop Elisey is currently also part of the decision of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia.

Earlier, Patriarch Kirill himself stated that dropping his name from the commemoration is equivalent to a schism.

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