Kirill: Bartholomew no longer the ecumenical patriarch of all Orthodoxy
In a letter sent on December 30, the Patriarch of Moscow condemns the decision taken for autocephaly in Ukraine. Kirill challenges the authority of Bartholomew, as overly hasty. Allegations also to Filaret of Kiev and Makarij, "the adventurer". The schism spreads throughout the world: Moscow will establish dioceses and its own parishes where there are structures of the patriarchate of Constantinople.
Moscow (AsiaNews) - Moscow Patriarch Kirill (Gundjaev) has delivered an ultimatum to the Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew (Archontonis), in response to the latter's communication on the recognition of the new autocephalous Ukrainian Church: if he does not reverse the decision taken in Ukraine, he can no longer be considered the "ecumenical patriarch" of all universal Orthodoxy. The harsh words are contained in a letter that Kirill sent to Constantinople on December 30th.
"You will lose forever the possibility of serving the unity of the holy Churches of God and you will stop being the Primate of the Orthodox world - says the head of the Russian Orthodox Churcg to his Greek counterpart. In the letter, the Russian patriarch goes over the various "forced stages" that led to the decision to endorse the "pseudo-council" of Kiev last December 15th. By tragic coincidence, this expression recalls that of the "pseudo-council" of Lviv in 1946, when the patriarchate of Moscow led by Aleksij I, under the leadership of Stalin and Khrushchev, annexed the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church, which remained in catacombs until 1990.
According to Kirill, the rush to conclude the "union of the schismatic" Ukrainians is due to the pressure of a "process of politicization, far from the norms and spirit of the canonical seals", that if they were respected they would have achieved the desired result "with full satisfaction both for the Ukrainian Orthodox and for all the other Orthodox in the world ". And now it will be necessary to deal with the opposition of the "majority of the Ukrainian people", which in his opinion supports the only canonical Church of the patriarchate of Moscow.
In the letter we recall the suggestions given to Bartholomew "to study the documents of the previous centuries together with authoritative historians, theologians and specialists of ecclesiastical canon law", the refusal of which was justified by "for lack of time".
It is understood that Constantinople opposed this suggestion: in 1000 years of history, the Orthodox Churches have never been able to come to agreement on canonical norms, and this could hardly have happened after the Russians refused to participate in the 2016 pan-Orthodox council of Crete .
The Patriarch of Moscow disputes Bartholomew's authority concerning the granting of autocephaly to the other local Orthodox Churches, which derives from canons 9 and 17 of the Council of Chalcedon of 451, based on "a series of objections by authoritative commentators of canon law" , of which the Byzantine canonist Ioann Zonara, a historian of the twelfth century, is mentioned. In every dispute between the Orthodox the "rush to quotations" of the various ancient synods and theologians is repeated, where one can find any kind of argument for or against one's theses.
The argument to which Kirill proves to be most sensitive - for ecclesiastical and personal reasons - is the readmission of the "schismatic patriarch" Filaret of Kiev, now "emeritus", which in the letter is remembered with the lay name of "Mikhail Denisenko". In 1976 the old hierarch was one of the consecrators of the episcopal ordination of the same Kirill, then 29 year old "emerging star" of the Russian episcopate of the Soviet school. The complaints do not spare even the other "schismatic" readmitted bishop, Makarij Maletič, head of a Church defined as "adventurers" (in Russian samozvantsy, the "autoelects"), and underscore doubts about the morality of bishops and priests blessed by Constantinople (not without reason, moreover: the two Churches concerned were long out of control).
The letter establishes a situation that can hardly be healed in a short time, and may even worsen. In a television interview on December 28, Metropolitan Ilarion (Alfeev) declared that the Patriarchate of Moscow will proceed with the establishment of its own dioceses and parishes in all the territories where there are structures of the "schismatic" patriarchate of Constantinople; the struggle extends practically to the whole world, and Orthodoxy will never be the same again.