Russian Orthodox Church – It is impossible to Continue in Eucharistic Communion with the Patriarchate of Constantinople

OCP News Service – 15/10/18

Minsk- Belarus: A statement published by the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church stated that it is impossible for the Russian Church to continue in Eucharistic Communion with the Patriarchate of Constantinople, reports

The Ecumenical Patriarchate Enters into Communion with UOC-KP and UAOC

An important session of the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church was held on 15/10/18 at the Belarusian Capital of Misnk. The Synod strongly condemned the anti-canonical acts of the Church of Constantinople within the canonical territory of the Russian Church in Ukraine. The Synod stated that until the Church of Constantinople refrains from her anti-canonical acts, it is impossible for the Clergy and faithful of the Church of Russia to cooperate and take part in communion/worship/liturgy served by the Clergy/ Prelates of the Constantinople Patriarchate.

The Synod also urged the Local Orthodox Churches to evaluate the anti-canonical acts of the Constantinople Patriarchate and jointly search for constructive solutions to overcome the crisis (that tore apart the body of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church  of Christ).

The Synod declared full support for  His Beatitude Onufry – Metropolitan of Kiev and All Ukraine and requested continued prayers from everyone to overcome the present canonical crisis in Ukraine.

OCP News Service

10 thoughts on “Russian Orthodox Church – It is impossible to Continue in Eucharistic Communion with the Patriarchate of Constantinople

  1. For Lord mercy! It’s so easy to dive Christ Body, but so difficult to reunite…on both sides forget pride, national attachment.. noe Jew, no Greek…you belong to Him! Fratelnal love… you will give life for your enemies… really?! You teach to give a second cheek … did you…? Restor comunione ask for mutual forgiveness, …Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God have mercy on a sinner!

  2. Indeed, a bleak day of lamentation, the day the Moscow Patriarchate went into a schism, not over a dogmatic or serious theological dispute, but over jurisdiction of a territorial church, knowing well, as seen from its quasi-Pyongyangish hysteria and fearmongering, that the remedial intervention of the Patriarchate of Constantinople would virually set in stone the snuffing out of the Kremlin’s and Moscow Patriarchate’s political influence in Ukraine with all its imperialist and ethnophyletist ideology.

    The Patriarchate of Constantinple has given suffient and substantial grounds for its interventions in ITS canonical territory, from the Orthodox Church’s canonical tradition and its primatial responsibilities and duties carefully articulated in a compelling theology of Primacy which theologians and experts in Canon Law of all stripes – Romanian, Serbian, Greek – have contributed in academic journals and book publications, of which John Chryssavgis’ two volume “Primacy in the Church” should be absolutely required reading, especially now as the Moscow Patriarchate and Kremlin will undoubtedly unleash the full power and scope of their fake news juggernaut. The Patriarchate of Constantinople is the inheritor of all of the primatial duties of the Elder Rome after communion with the latter was ruptured (for theological factors) among which include, controversial as it might seem, the restoration, or inverse, of an anathematised and/or deposed bishop, for whom the canonical tradition makes provisions for a FAIR hearing. It is easy to draw examples of the practice of the Church in making appeal to Rome based on the universal recognition of the very duties with which the Patriarchate of Constantinople is now equipped. Read the sources and their academic commentaries.

    The fact is that the Moscow Patriarchate’s actions in attempting to steer the course of events their way using underhanded tactics has become a concern for parties usually partial towards Moscow, such as the Patriarchate of Bulgaria, where at a recent Synodal meeting attended by a legation from the Moscow Patriarchate attempting to throw its weight around, compelled the presider of the Synod to remind those present that “this is Bulgaria, not Russia”. Thanks to its unholy alliance with the Kremlin, the Moscow Patriarchate virtually guaranteed its loss of Ukraine after losing the trust of many Ukrainians after the 2014 war, some formerly belonging to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate. One might ask, was siding with the Kremlin worth it in the end?

    It’s time for prayer and more prayer. It’s also time for responsible journalism and a time to exercise caution towards what is published by the vast amount of media – Orthodox and secular – controlled by Russia and the Moscow Patriarchate. Caution too, towards counterparts among the Ukrainian Church who will exploit the newly-granted Autocephaly of the Church of Ukraine to advance their nationalist political agendas.

    Which direction will OCP take?

  3. If politics have caused a rift between the 2 countries, Christ should be able to bridge the gap. Bring brotherly neighboring nations back together. This is the legacy of the Church.

  4. To Ambrosius:
    If you think this question is not “dogmatic or [a] serious theological dispute,” then you must dig deeper. To quote Constantinople’s star theologian, John Zizioulas: “The separation of the administrative institutions of the Church from dogma is not simply unfortunate; it is even dangerous.” Indeed, this new theory of Constantinople’s prerogatives, based on Zizioulas’ strongly social/personalist Trinitarian theology, has been articulated in the essay of Elpidophoros of Proussa, “First without equals: A response to the text on primacy of the Moscow Patriarchate.” Here we see the novel suggestion that the monarchy of the Father in the Trinity becomes the model of Constantinople’s monarchy over the other bishops. In other words, while Paul teaches, “the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God” (1 Cor. 11,3) and “the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church” (Eph. 5:23), this new theory says something like “As the Father is the head of Christ, so is Constantinople the head of the Church.” This is poor theology.

    On your claim that “it is easy to draw examples of the practice of the Church in making appeal to Rome based on the universal recognition of the very duties with which the Patriarchate of Constantinople is now equipped,” there was never such a “universal recognition,” neither of Rome’s right nor Constantinople’s. Historically, disgruntled parties occasionally sought out a politically expedient shoulder to cry on by appealing to other sees, but there is no evidence that this was “universally recognized” as a formal process. Two examples: Eutyches appealed to Alexandria when he was disciplined for his heretical views. He had mixed success. The Ignatian party appealed to Rome over their master’s replacement. They gained a sympathetic ear, but Photios not only paid no attention to it, he counter-excommunicated Rome for interfering.

    Still, I will grant you that the idea you express is almost a verbatim re-edition of part of an epistle Constantinople sent to the Russian Church in 1663, at a time when the Ottomans had for bureaucratic reasons inflated C-ople’s privileges within the Empire to a greater level than they’d ever before seen. But there is no evidence this opinion was universally accepted. On the contrary, the renowned canonist St. Nikodemos the Hagiorite’s (1749–1809) long footnote in his commentary on Canons IV:9 & 17 completely rejects and dismantles it. Still, in a recent interview with the Ukrainian press, the EP bishop Makarios of Christoupolis makes repeated reference to the 1663 epistle as though it were universally accepted. Has he not read Nikodemos? (As a contextual aside, but a few years later the Council of Jerusalem (1672) denounced the Patriarch of Constantinople for Calvinism, Just a bit of context.)

    Oddly, the same Makarios attempts then to compare Moscow’s declaration of autocephaly in 1448 with Filaret’s. He fails to mention, however, that Moscow, till then a loyal child of Constantinople for close to 500 years, broke away because Constantinople herself had lapsed into Unia and was trying to foist onto Moscow a Uniate metropolitan as well. This goes unmentioned by Makarios, who some say will become the new EP archbishop in Estonia (hold that thought). In the context of repeated lapses into Unia (1589 & 1672) during C-ople’s largely inept administration over Kiev, Rus’ was made whole again and Orthodoxy was steadied with Kiev’s rescue by the free part of the Russian Church (1686). And ever since, Kiev has remained a part of the Russian Church. That a few modern day bookworms found an escape clause in the old manuscripts does not suddenly give the right for C-ople 300+ years later to stake a claim. The canons recognize statutes of limitation. This is long past, and C-ople’s equivocation these past 25+ years has served only to prolong the schism and undermine the canonical church. Kiev belongs to the Russian Church, not the EP (cf. your “ITS”). Even Filaret’s new title, just coined yesterday, inadvertently acknowledges the same, by including a statement about Kiev being the mother of all the cities of Rus’.

    All unilateralism is checked by the principle stated from as early as the 34th Apostolic Canon that, although every local Synod has a Πρῶτος without whose approval nothing can be done, neither can the protos do anything without the consensus of all (ἄνευ τῆς πάντων γνώμης). It is this ἄνευ τῆς πάντων γνώμης that has always been the clincher. Patriarch Athenagoras understood this too, and stated as much in his treatise on autocephaly, which expresses a completely different understanding from what the modern day Phanar is promulgating. It’s hard to believe there’s been so quick a change in so little time. This alien spirit among some crept in very quickly…

    Your cracks about “quasi-Pyongyangish hysteria and fearmongering,” “imperialist and ethnophyletist ideology,” “unholy alliance with the Kremlin,” “fake news juggernaut” make me despair that I am wasting my time trying to communicate with a hopelessly fanaticized or deeply unserious person. But for the record, I will say the Russian Church is the least ethnophyletist and most polyethnic of all the Orthodox churches. It is in the midst of a hot war, one caused by a coup fomented by foreign powers, where thousands have died, yet both its Patriarch and Kievan Metropolitan have been nothing but advocates for peace among brothers throughout. The same cannot be said for the ecclesiastical bodies that are suing for recognition. These represent not the spiritual elements of the Ukrainian nation, but the most politicized and ethno-fanaticized ones. Many of them are not even Orthodox. Just compare the two St Vladimir celebrations this year. The faithful, serious Christians are loyal to their Church and want nothing of these political machinations that outsiders are brewing. Time will show the truth.

    On the supposedly “remedial” intentions of the Patriarchate of Constantinople,” please look at the Estonia precedent. C-ople’s action was not remedial, but harmful and futile, since the overwhelming number of faithful (close to 90%) have remained true to their church– i.e. the MP–and the Estonian “patriotic” fragment that sought separation is now divided from the majority, both ecclesiastically but also liturgically, since it also adopted the western calendar. Is that what we are to expect in long-suffering Ukraine as well?

  5. Why is it that Russian Orthodox supporters are so full of lies? Is it the evil influence of Putin and that Christ-hating Kirill Gundyaev?

  6. The star theologian you refer to blithely happens to be broadly revered as perhaps the greatest living theologian in the Christian world.

    This is a polemical distortion of the Theology of Primacy and Conciliarity. To suggest that the monarchia of the Father becomes a “model of Constantinople’s monarchy over other bishops” is perhaps the basis for the baseless charges of “neo-papism” but reflects a poor reading of Zizioulas.
    Could you tell us exactly what you mean by “monarchy over the other bishops?” The idea of a purported monarchy over other bishops can be refuted by citing scholars who read Zizioulas. Romanian Orthodox theologian Radu Bordeianu makes it clear that “Zizioulas’ position is significant in that the authority of the primate must be freely accepted by the other bishops and their communities, otherwise it cannot be claimed objectively and independently of the relationships within a regional synod, or even at the universal level. In other words, he cannot impose his authority..” Does this sound like a monarchy? An episcopal monarchy, in the correct sense of the term, is a reference to the monarchical understanding of the primacy of the Bishop of Rome as it developed its more radical trajectory from the papacy of Nicholas I in the mid-9th century, which entailed a number of distinct characteristics. Firstly, that the bishop of Rome could judge bishops of the universal Church but could not be judged by any. Does this sound like the Primacy of Constantinople? Secondly, the monarchical episcopacy of the bishop of Rome entailed a right to change church law unilaterally, as Pope Innocent IV famously arrogated this right to himself. Does this sound like Constantinople? The other manifestation of a monarchical episcopacy relates to the bishop of Rome’s unique place in the College of Bishops. As Lumen Gentium shows, it is not permissible for the Collegium to act independently of the Pope but in union with him, yet in some circumstances the pope can indeed act independently of the Collegium. Does this sound like Constantinople? Of course it doesn’t. A monarchical bishop imposes his authority on his brother bishops. It is centred on a juridical model which envisions the jurisdictional power of a bishop as dependent for its bestowal on the Monarchical Bishop, i.e. the pope, reflecting a pyramidal ecclesiology which was cemented with Robert Bellarmine until its virtual jettisoning in the 20th century until its full dismantling at Vatican II.

    Incidentally in light of ROCOR’s latest decision to join Moscow’s schism, let me remind you that this obviously was not a serious church-dividing issue when it was in communion with the Patriarchate of Constantinople. Suddenly it is thrust on the table as a church-dividing issue.

    Trinitarian theology is the basis for conciliarity and Primacy. Conciliarity and Primacy are the central structures of an ecclesiology of koinonia, which is Eucharistic and firmly in keeping with an Orthodox reading of Ignatius of Antioch. If the bishop is indeed an iconic representation of Christ, or as the Father (Ignatius uses both images), what serious objections could be levelled against Orthodox Ecclesiology if the Father’s monarchia is used as a model for understanding the relational interdependency between the primatus in the local, regional and universal churches respectively and the primate on all three levels? If the bishop is indeed the visible centre of unity, as presider of his Eucharistic assembly, and if this role was assumed by the Patriarchate of Constantinople on the universal level, as all Orthodox believe, then there is no valid objection to envisioning the Patriarch of Constantinople as reflecting the Trinitarian koinonia as the local and regional bishops reflect the Trinitarian koinonia as servants of Eucharistic communion in accordance with the iconic principle of the one and the many. Zizioulas himself points to the fact that the “nature of the Eucharist points to the simultaneity of locality and universality in ecclesiology”.

    Trinitarian theology enables us to understand order as a taxis, an ordering in which the Father is the source of persons who are not subjugated to Him. Zizioulas would say that it affirms otherness and community in the Trinity. If there is communion in the Church, where does this community ultimately come from but the Trinitarian monarchia? The iconic image of the bishop, grounded in the person of Christ as the radix of the episcopal office, is where the primacy of the chief bishop on every level of the church lies. The taxis in ecclesiastical hierarchy was established early in the Church’s history, and it excludes an impotent kind of primacy some anti-Ecclesiologists advocate.

    Was Pope Leo the Great intruding on other bishops when he intervened in Syria and Palestine to enforce the rulings of Chalcedon and upbraided the dissenters? Was he out of limits when he exhorted the Patriarch of Antioch to exercise greater vigilance? This was a legitimate function of Primacy that reflected the consciousness of the Universal Church.

    We have a unity founded on a minister of Eucharistic communion who serves unity, enforces the canons and reconciles the wayward to the Church, particularly in his canonical territory.

    Fortunately our unity is not based on “Holy Russian Unity” as the Second Council of ROCOR maintained.

    I’ll deal with the rest of your objections in due course.

  7. Incidentally, I harbour no ill-will towards you. You are not just words on an internet forum. You are a person whom I would embrace as a brother/sister in Christ regardless of where we stand on the divide. I am in communion with people who disagree. Let’s not allow this to incite bitterness. This is what Satan wants to accomplish.

  8. Ambrosius:
    I know exactly who Metr. John Zizioulas is. His social Trinity model is kerygmatically fecund, but the homoousion means his thought experiments will hit a wall once they stray too much from the realm of poetry. For all the ink he expends. Zizioulas ends up telling us the same thing as the 34th Apostolic Canon did all those years ago. But he tries to get there with Social Trinitarianism, inevitably cutting a host of corners along the way as he tries to shoehorn it all into a theory of aggrandizement of the ecclesiastical see he belongs to. Yet the Father begets the Son. The Protos does not beget the Synod. Rather, the synod elects and three bishops ordain the protos. So how do the aition/aitiaton work there? The dynamic is different, but no matter, I don’t want to argue about Zizioulas’ ideas, because it’s both futile–each of us will see what he wants–and I don’t want to besmirch his person or his otherwise enlightening work elsewhere.

    What is important is the takeaway, one of them Bp. Elpidophoros’ First Without Equals. The title itself is the clarion call for a monarchic vision of self that the EP is promoting. As an essay, it also cuts a lot of corners.

    See also what the EP said today? «Είτε αρέσει στους αδελφούς μας τους Ρώσους είτε δεν αρέσει, αργά η γρήγορα θα ακολουθήσουν την λύση που θα δώσει το Οικουμενικό Πατριαρχείο διότι δεν έχουν άλλη επιλογή» “Whether or Russian brothers like it or not, sooner or later, they will follow the decisions of the Ecumenical Patriarch, because they have no other choice.” Is this monarchical? Anyone who disagrees is a well-paid (by the Russians, of course; Fake News!) disseminator of “black propaganda.” These are his words. I guess that includes people like me.

    Why? Because “Our Slavic brothers cannot tolerate the primacy of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and our nation in Orthodoxy.” («Δεν ανέχονται οι αδερφοί μας οι Σλάβοι το προβάδισμα που έχει το Οικουμενικό Πατριαρχείο και το Γένος μας, μέσα στην Ορθοδοξία»). You can watch it all here.

    The Russians are not the ethnophyletists. Look elsewhere for that. They do not want the primacy. Why would they when the Russian mindset is world multipolarity? They just want their church to stay unified.

    One final note, Leo the Great may have exhorted adherence to Chalcedon, but this is zero evidence of any special function of his, since he was not the only Patriarch doing it. Secondly, it was certain loose expressions in his own Tome that led to the rejection of the council by much of the Church, which is further proof against him being seen as possessed of any special status.

    Aside: Bp. Makarios got called out for only half-quoting the Epistle of 1663, and for misrepresenting the historical context of 1448. It’s all here:

  9. PYCb:

    You make a false equivalence, and I think that this stems from your misunderstanding of Zizioulas’ theology as it applies to Primacy and Synodality. You acknowledge as much, since you admit that the dynamic is different. This is an important admission and I think this would be a good point of departure to help to clarify some of the finer details of our theology.

    The principle of aetiology in the Trinity is never a precondition for theological paradigms grounded on particular aspects of Trinitarian life, or Christology, for that matter. If this were the case, then we would have to dismiss Ignatius of Antioch’s unmistakably primatial theology of the Bishop as the iconic model of Christ among his local church by arguing that, since Christ plays a role in the eternal mediation,or spiration, of the Spirit from the Father as mia aetia (i.e. the procession of the Spirit the Son, as per John of Damascus et al.) and the Bishop does not eternally spirate his flock, the analogy is invalid!

    If I can kindly offer some insights that clarify this point. You are already aware that Zizioulas offers a vision of the primatus as reflecting the function of primacy within the Trinity based on the <> of the Father to avoid depersonalising the notion of the primatus. It is never to deviate from Ignatius of Antioch’s formulation of the nature of the episcopal office as entirely Christic. The Cappadochian concept of unity in the Trinity centred on the prosopon of the Father provides a personal dimension to primacy in which a unity around the principle of the One and the Many emerges, providing the framework for understanding both the Body of Christ – according to the biblical image of the many summed up in the one (e.g. the Church summed up in Christ, and as a consequence the local Church (or flock) summed up in the person of the bishop as icon of Christ. This is resoundingly Ignatian and you will find echoes of this idea immediately following Ignatius into the second century onwards. Cyprian of Carthage is a perfect example. Ultimately primacy is grounded in presidency in love.

    One argument that I wanted to hone in on is this: you state that “The Russians are not the ethnophyletists. Look elsewhere for that. They do not want the primacy. Why would they when the Russian mindset is world multipolarity? They just want their church to stay unified.”

    The most compelling evidence against such thinking is provided by statements and speeches made by representatives of the Russian Church itself. There is a history of statements that give quite the opposite impression and recently there has been much attention devoted to this issue by academics in the wake of events leading up the the Council of Crete.

    The increasing consciousness of a Russian Empire succeeding the Byzantine Empire and emerging nationalism following the 19th century due to territorial expansion led to what the Bulgarian scholar Daniela Kalkandjeva (and I draw from her research) terms as a “symbiosis of Orthodoxy with nationalism” which is continued post-Revolution among Russian exiles. The Second Russian Church Council Abroad in 1938 provides insights into this nationalistic mentality, firstly, by its perpetuation of an agenda to dilute the legitimate prerogative of the Primacy of the Ecumenical Patriarchate as a pretext to reclaiming Russian jurisdiction over those territories built on the rubble of the Russian Empire in their attempt to re-create an ambitious “Orthodox Great Russia”; and secondly, to in response to a mandate to “unite, regulate and revive the religious activities” of the Russian diaspora, activities “built on the triangle of Faith, Tsar and Fatherland” as driving force of Russian nationalism among the exiles. The ideologues called for a “revival of the ideal of Holy Rus’ in the soul of the Russian Orthodox man” and is the basis behind the idea of a Russian Church for Russians.

    It is also at this Synod that the argument of Primacy on the basis of numbers and Ethnophyletism was advanced, by arrogating the right to convoke a pan-Orthodox synod, rightly belonging to Constantinople as anyone with a modicum of knowledge of Church history and Canon Law, for the pre-revolutionary Russian Orthodox Church. This would seem to me to be a much more appropriate application of the charge of aggrandisement. One would need only quote some of the speeches and proceedings of this Synod to see this point. It is, furthermore, an aggrandisement based on nationalism, and a basis for understanding the ethnophyletism which defines church life in many sections – certainly not all – of the Russian Church, as I know through personal experience. It is a self-admitted primacy based on numbers and nationality, and the consequent ideology of the Ethnophyletist “Russian World” which envisions an international network in the diaspora of people belonging to ‘traditional Rus’ by providing a spiritually unifying factor based on nationality. Patriarch Kyril’s sentiments on this topic are well documented, and he has styled himself as a source of unity for Russians. Compare this to the supranational character of authentic primacy, which enables the bishop to transcend earthly categories which have the effect of dividing people into groups into a supranational ministry open to people of all nationalities and backgrounds in a Church where “there is neither Greek, nor Jew”. It can never accommodate geopolitical ambitions of uniting populations who enjoy bonds of blood, but an eschatological motive of uniting all people in a manner prefiguring the Kingdom of Heaven.

    I will try to address your reservations about Lambrianidis’ paper at some other time.

  10. >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>The principle of aetiology in the Trinity is never a precondition for theological paradigms grounded on particular aspects of Trinitarian life, or Christology, for that matter.

    I can’t believe you said that. Bp. Elpidophoros devotes an entire paragraph to showing that the theological order in the Trinity is exactly based on the aition/aitiaton. “If we were to follow,” he says, “the logic of the text of the Synod of Russia, we would also have to claim that God the Father is not Himself the anarchic cause of the divinity and fatherhood…but becomes a recipient of his own ‘primacy.'”

    Then you say the astounding:
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>Christ plays a role in the eternal mediation,or spiration, of the Spirit from the Father as mia aetia (i.e. the procession of the Spirit the Son, as per John of Damascus et al.)

    John of Damascus says: Ο Πατήρ πηγή και αιτία Υιού και Πνεύματος, Πατήρ δε μόνου Υιού και προβολεύς Πνεύματος…..μόνος γαρ’ αίτιος ο Πατήρ.

    The Father is the only cause.

    The “as mia aitia” language you used was specifically condemned by the Council of Blachernae (1285). You’re not Orthodox.

    Moving on, you did a pretty crude duck-and-weave on the video I presented to you. (You also ducked and weaved on the Estonia question). Your strained criticism of the Russian church’s supposed “ethnophyletism” only shows you didn’t grow up in an Orthodox church. Love of one’s culture and country was always a part of growing up, in all jurisdictions. That the Revolution highlighted the urgency of maintaining the traditions was only natural. Your bookish critiques touch no one of a fair mind.

    The Russian Church is the most multinational of all the churches and I have seen nothing to suggest it seeks any kind of primacy. The Russians are multipolarist. You sound like those shrill Russia haters on the TV.

    And a word on the much vaunted primacy of numbers everybody talks about. It comes exactly from the life of the church. Is it a surprise that the Sees with primacy in the early church were the largest cities in the Empire? First, it was Rome, Alexandria, then Antioch, first , second, third largest cities in the Empire. Then C-ople rose in prominence, because it became the capital of the Christian Roman Empire. The canons are clear on this. All this was primacy of numbers.

    Nevertheless, the Russian Church seems uninterested in upsetting the existing order or making a claim on the basis of her size. Maybe she understands that attempts to invent an “active” primacy have never solved a single problem in the life of the church, but rather created new ones. Your vision of a globalist appointed go-to person for Orthodox matters is what the Ottomans did with the EP. In this day and age, there is no room for such. As St. Paul teaches, “the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God” (1 Cor. 11,3) and “the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church” (Eph. 5:23). Christ is the head of the Church.

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