Russia hints at establishing exarchate in Turkey, deepening schism

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Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill at his enthronement ceremony in Moscow. Credit: Kremlin.ru/CCBY SA 4.0

The Russian Orthodox Church suggests that it wants to establish an exarchate in Turkey, as it has just done in Africa, taking under its jurisdiction 102 former Greek Orthodox prelates, deepening the schism that opened in Ukraine when it formed his own Orthodox Church. .

The rift formed by the separation of the Ukrainian Church from Russian jurisdiction sent a tidal wave through Orthodoxy, with the new measures seen as tit for tat in the religious skirmish.

On December 29, the Moscow Patriarchate directly challenged the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate under Bartholomew by establishing a “Russian Exarchate in Africa”, “adopting” a total of 102 clergymen who previously formed part of the Patriarchate of Alexandria under Patriarch Theodore. .

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But as the Orthodox time reports Monday, the African decision may be just a taste of what the Moscow Patriarchate hopes to create in Turkey.

In an interview with Ria Novosti, Metropolitan Hilarion, Metropolitan of Volokolamsk and Chairman of the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate, said: “The Russian Orthodox Church cannot refuse to feed the Orthodox in Turkey”.

Obviously, the Ukrainian schism is having repercussions everywhere, Metropolitan Hilarion justifying the creation of the “Russian exarchate in Africa” by declaring: “In 2019, Theodore II, patriarch of Alexandria and all Africa, recognized the Ukrainian Schismatic Orthodox Church.

The consequences of this decision, he declared, “could affect the care of our faithful compatriots in Africa, who live in the canonical territory of the Patriarchate of Alexandria”.

The Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church announced the decision to establish the Patriarchal Exarchate in Africa just before the New Year.

Metropolitan Hilarion had very harsh words for Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew in the interview, saying: “We could not say no to the clergymen of the Patriarchate of Alexandria who realized the false position of their Patriarch… the Patriarch of Constantinople took part in the schism.

Ecumenical Patriarch recognizes Ukrainian Autocephalous Church in 2019

In October 2018, in the greatest schism of Orthodox Christianity in over a century, the Russian Orthodox Church severed all ties with the Patriarchate of Constantinople following a “historic” decision to recognize the Orthodox Church. Ukrainian as an independent.

Metropolitan Hilarion, bishop in charge of the Russian Orthodox, told reporters that the decision to sever relations with the Patriarchate of Constantinople was taken by the Holy Synod, the governing body of the Russian Orthodox Church, in Minsk, in Belarus.

In an official statement, members of the Holy Synod wrote that allowing another church to separate “is tantamount to renouncing its historic roots and commitments”, making it “impossible” for the Russian Orthodox Church to continue its union. with Constantinople.

In January 2019, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew presented a decree of independence to the head of the nascent Orthodox Church in Ukraine, severing his centuries-old ties with the Russian Orthodox Church.

This decision was greeted by many Ukrainians, who resented the status of the affiliated church in Moscow. The push for a full-fledged Ukrainian church was reinforced by fighting in eastern Ukraine between government forces and Russian-backed rebels. Conflict in the country’s industrial center erupted after Russia’s 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula and has claimed more than 14,000 lives since then.

Russian Church severed ties with Ecumenical Patriarchate in 2018

The Russian Orthodox Church denounced the decision of the Ecumenical Patriarch, which forced the clergy and believers to choose between belonging to the old Moscow affiliated church or the new Ukrainian church, as a political attack on religious freedoms.

News of the establishment of the African Exarchate was announced on December 29, 2021 by Russian journalist Vladimir Legoida, head of the Synod Department for Church Relations with Society and the Media, on his personal Telegram account.

“The Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church declares that it can no longer refuse to accept the clergy of the Orthodox Church of Alexandria, who have submitted nominations, under its omoforion,” said Legoida.

“For this reason, he decided to receive under the jurisdiction of the Russian Orthodox Church, 102 ecclesiastics of the Patriarchate of Alexandria, from eight African countries.

The recognition of the autocephaly of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church by the Patriarchate of Alexandria was apparently punished by the Moscow Patriarchate, further aggravating the schism in the Orthodox Church.

The statement from the Moscow Patriarchate claims that the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church, at its meeting on December 29, 2021, chaired by Patriarch Kirill, heard a report from the vice-chairman of the Foreign Relations Department of the Church, Archbishop Leonid of Yerevan and Armenia, on the many appeals of clergymen of the Orthodox Church of Alexandria to take them under his wing.

It was these appeals, said Legoida, that got the ball rolling in the effort to place prelates under the omophorion of the Moscow Patriarchate.

“In this regard, the Synod has decided that 102 members of the clergy of the Patriarchate of Alexandria from eight African countries, in accordance with their requests, be accepted into the jurisdiction of the Russian Orthodox Church,” said Legoida.

“The Holy Synod has decided that the Patriarchal Exarchate of Africa be formed, composed of the Diocese of North Africa and South Africa and that the head of the Patriarchal Exarchate of Africa be given the title” of Klin “, he added.

The synod decided that the diocese of North Africa, the bishop of the diocese of North Africa, would take the title of “of Cairo and North Africa”.

Legoida noted that the diocese of South Africa would include the parish of the Moscow Patriarchate in the Republic of South Africa, adding that “the synod has decided that the ruling bishop of the diocese of South Africa be given the title” from Johannesburg and South Africa ”.

The Synod appointed Archbishop Leonid of Yerevan and Armenia as Patriarchal Exarch for Africa and Metropolitan of Klin.

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