MP DECR Head: We believed Phanar, but it was a mistake – it deceived us
Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev) acknowledged the ROC's partially to blame for Constantinople’s interference in the church life of Ukraine.
The Russian Orthodox Church made a "big mistake" by trusting Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople and agreeing to his proposal to remove the topic of autocephaly from the agenda. The Head of the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate, Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev) of Volokolamsk, spoke about this in an interview published on the website of the MP DECR.
"I think, indeed, part of the blame lies with us, and I must admit that we made one very big mistake," said the hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church.
He explained that the issue of autocephaly was discussed throughout the entire preparation process for the Cretan Council, which took place in 2016, and “we practically agreed that autocephaly would not be granted in the future by the sole decision of the Ecumenical Patriarch, that the granting of autocephaly would be possible only with the consent of all Local Churches.”
“The only thing left was to agree on the format of putting signatures under a tomos of autocephaly – we failed to reach an agreement on this matter,” said the head of the ROC DECR. But what happened then? Patriarch Bartholomew sent letters to the Local Orthodox Churches with a proposal to remove the issue of autocephaly from the agenda and hold a Pan-Orthodox Council. We agreed to this proposal, and that was our big mistake."
The hierarch added that the Russian Orthodox Church believed the Patriarch of Constantinople, “who publicly, in front of all delegations of the Local Churches, said: we recognize Metropolitan Onuphry and welcome him as the only canonical head of Orthodoxy in Ukraine” (at the Meeting of the Primates of Local Orthodox Churches, 2016 in Chambesy – Ed.).
“These were his words, and we believed these words. We thought: since the Ecumenical Patriarch says so, let us really hold a Council, as he promises us, and after that we will continue to discuss the issue of autocephaly. We shouldn't have believed him, for he deceived us. This was our big mistake,” Metropolitan Hilarion admitted.
We will remind, earlier the Head of the ROC DECR referred to the statements of the Phanar head that he tolerates the presence in Ukraine of the UOC and its Primate, His Beatitude Onuphry, “by condescension” as preposterous.