Bartholomew only brought split, Russian church says


Eastern Europe


Metropolitan Hilarion doesn't think the Russian church is ungrateful to the Patriarchate of Constantinople. Photo AFP, Vasily Maximov

The Russian church is not ungrateful to the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, archbishop Bartholomew. That says the Russian 'foreign affairs bishop', Metropolitan Hilarion.

Bartholomew said that the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) was very "ungrateful" towards him, although Constantinople gave Russia the Christian faith. Russia was not only ungrateful but "angry" also.

The reason for this is that patriarch Bartholomew gave independence to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) and recognised the legality of the Kiev Patriarchate. This happened in 2019. But this summer, in August 2021, Bartholomew visited the Ukrainian capital Kiev for the festivities of 30 years' independence.

That was too much for the Russians, who had never recognised that national independence. It is clear that the Russian church authorities have received this as a provocation by the ecumenical head of all the Eastern Orthodox Churches (in Western terms: the 'pope').

He only brought the split

It is not true, says Hilarion now, that Bartholomew brought the faith to Russia. "We remember very well where we got the Orthodox faith – we got it from Constantinople. But only patriarch Bartholomew did not participate in all this", Hilarion said on television according to Ria Novosti. "We did not get anything good from him – only the schism that he caused right on the canonical territory of our church."

The metropolitan thinks the ecumenical patriarch legalised the split in the church. In Ukraine, there are two separate Ukrainian Orthodox Churches now. The first is under the Kiev Patriarchate (KP) and the other under the Moscow Patriarchate (MP).

"We do not need such an "elder brother", who does not care about us, who does not care about Orthodox canons and Orthodox unity", the metropolitan concludes.

Mistrust in wider Orthodoxy

The words between the Ukrainian and the Russian church are followed with great concern in the broader Orthodox community. On the Greek web portal about the Orthodox churches, Ekklesia Online there is an article about last week's conference in Kiev about the "universality of the church", written by church analyst Ivan Petrusiak. This conference was organised by the Russian part of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. Petrusiak interprets this meeting as an "attack" on Bartholomew. Also, the Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sergei Lavrov, would have been involved.

According to Petrusiak this conference was nothing less than "revenge for the loss of Ukraine". "The Kremlin suffered a severe blow due to the loss of influence in Ukraine. The questions of the conference were not serious at all because "a third-year theological student can easily answer" them. The Russian church is "ready to re-write the rules of Orthodoxy".



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