Moscow’s "Egyptian" church closes: breaking of relations with Patriarch of Alexandria
Theodore II of Alexandria recognized the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. The "Egyptian" church of All Saints is much loved by the Russians for the professional choir that enlivens the liturgy.
Moscow (AsiaNews) - The faithful of the "Egyptian" church in the capital are desperate: in recent days the closing of the representation of the Orthodox patriarchate of Alexandria in Moscow was announced.
The Alexandrian delegation is located at the Russian Church of All Saints in Kulishki, in the center. The ancient building (XIV century), is easily recognizable by the leaning tower. The parish priest is the same Metropolitan Afanasios (Kikkotis) of Cyrene (see photo), exarch of Libya, in Moscow for more than 20 years and much loved by Russian parishioners.
The representation of Alexandria and "all of Africa" has fallen under the ax due to the recognition of the new autocephalous Church of Kiev by Theodore II in recent weeks. This has caused the "Eucharistic relations" to break with the Russians.
Pending the final decision of the Muscovite Synod on the destination of the church, for now the celebrations continue and the faithful gather around Afanasios and the famous Byzantine choir, specialized in ancient monotone melodies, very different from the polyphonies of Russian churches.
The picture of the two patriarchs, Kirill (Gundjaev) of Moscow and Theodore II (Choreutakis) of Alexandria, portrayed not only as brothers of faith but also as old friends, stands out on the website of the Alexandrian delegation in Moscow. The parishioners answered questions from the Ria-Novosti correspondent, saying that Afanasios was not at all in favor of recognizing the Ukrainians, in order to avoid causing the schism with the Russians.
By itself, the church was close to being closed for some time, due to the need for a general restoration, and a sector of it is already inaccessible. The parishioners fear that together with the parish priest, a great oratror of Greek culture in Moscow (very popular modern Greek courses are held at the church), the tradition of the choir will also be interrupted, able to offer the best of both Greek and Slavic liturgical repertoires. The Orthodox liturgy is entirely sung, and professional choirs are much sought after; in fact the unparalleled mastery of the "Alexandrian" choir leads many people to attend the church of All Saints.
The patriarchate of Alexandria is one of the five patriarchates of the ancient "pentarchy" of the ancient Church (Rome, Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, Jerusalem), but it survives almost only as a "symbol" of those early centuries, as most of the faithful in Egypt belong to the Coptic "Monophysite" Church, which broke away in 451 after the Council of Chalcedon. The Theodore’s Patriarchate lives thanks to the subsidies of the Orthodox Churches of Greece, Cyprus and the United States; currently it is composed of 37 clerics, of whom 5 are African and one Arab, while the others come from Greece like Theodore himself.