MP DECR head: We witness but not participate in schism in world Orthodoxy
Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev) of Volokolamsk commented on the current situation in the sphere of inter-Orthodox relations.
We are witnesses, but not participants in the schism in world Orthodoxy, initiated by the Patriarch of Constantinople. The chairman of the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate, Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev) of Volokolamsk, said this during an online seminar at the Church-wide Postgraduate and Doctoral School named after Saints Cyril and Methodius on November 27, 2020, reports Patriarchia.ru.
“In the current situation, some people are just waiting with some horror: what will happen next, which next Church will recognize the OCU?” noted the hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church. “Here Hellas recognized, and now Cyprus ... I think that in this situation we all need to understand very well one simple thing: the Church has gone through a variety of trials during two thousand years of its history, including trials of disorder and schisms. Now we are witnesses, but, thank God, not participants in the schism that is taking place in world Orthodoxy. We did not initiate it, and we do not participate in it. The schism was initiated by the Patriarch of Constantinople, and he is winning over certain Primates of the Churches and some of the episcopate to his side."
He added that the aforementioned Greek Churches perceive Patriarch Bartholomew as a boss, "and what comes from him is actually an order that must be followed", so it is not surprising that they join his decisions.
For members of the Russian Orthodox Church, according to Metropolitan Hilarion, "this, in fact, does not matter".
“If the Ukrainian Church wanted to leave us, it would have left long ago,” he said. “You understand that the Russian Orthodox Church has no leverage to keep Kiev in Moscow's orbit – neither political, nor financial, nor administrative. But there is the will of the episcopate, clergy and church people of the Ukrainian Church to remain in unity with the Russian Church. Some tell us: give autocephaly to the Ukrainian Church, let it go – everyone will feel better. But if the people do not want this, the bishops do not want, the clergy do not want, how can we impose autocephaly? We cannot and will not”.
The head of the MP DECR stressed that it is necessary to strengthen the internal unity of the Church, "and what happens outside of it, let it remain on the conscience of those who initiated these processes".
“Now we are going through a period when the Patriarch of Constantinople has fallen into schism. What can we do about it? Just pray for his discipline. If he draws others into schism, we can and should also pray for their reasoning. But our immediate task is to strengthen the internal unity of our Church, to bring to people the light of the Gospel faith, to preach Christ Crucified and Risen,” summed up Metropolitan Hilarion.