ROC Primate: Head of the Church is Christ, not Patriarch of Constantinople

Patriarch Kirill at a conference on primacy and conciliarity in the Church. Photo:

Pat. Kirill pointed out that Phanar's new ecclesiology with its interpretation of primacy has no basis either in the sacred canons or Church Tradition as a whole.

In the Holy Church of Christ, absolute primacy belongs to Her Head – our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church, His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Rus, said this when opening the conference "World Orthodoxy: Primacy and Conciliarity in the Light of the Orthodox Doctrine", reports.

He noted that as the Primate, who is obliged to take care of the preservation and strengthening of relations with all Local Churches, he cannot but feel “personal anguish from what is happening in our relations with the Patriarchate of Constantinople and with those Churches that were involved by Constantinople in the recognition of the so-called ‘autocephalous Ukrainian Church’, which in fact represents nothing more than the legitimization of the church schism."

He recalled that earlier the Local Churches reached a consensus that autocephaly can be granted in future only with the consent of all the generally recognized Churches. This decision, which the Churches came to at the stage of preparation for the Pan-Orthodox Council, which never took place, was to be consolidated at the Council, but Patriarch Bartholomew asked to remove this issue from agenda. After the Cretan Council in 2016, it “was finally buried, all the agreements achieved in the past were nullified, while the Patriarch of Constantinople declared that he had allegedly received from the apostles the right to grant autocephaly to whoever he pleases, without the consent of other Local Churches.

“Claims for special rights and privileges were voiced by the Constantinople hierarchs and theologians before, but they have never been voiced with such a harsh tone and in such a radical interpretation as today. It got to the point that the Patriarch of Constantinople was called not the first among equals, but ‘the first without equals’. This new ecclesiology has no foundation either in the sacred canons or in the Church Tradition as a whole," Patriarch Kirill emphasized.

The ROC Bishops' Council in 2008 pointed out the enhancement of these trends and emphasized that the vision of the Patriarchate of Constantinople of its own rights and powers "comes into insurmountable contradiction with the centuries-old canonical tradition on which the existence of the Russian Orthodox Church and other Local Churches is based." In 2013, the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church adopted the document "The position of the Moscow Patriarchate on the issue of primacy in the Ecumenical Church," which underlined that in the Holy Church of Christ, absolute primacy belongs to Her Head – our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

“The Church as a God-human organism undoubtedly needs a certain earthly organization, and this organization is manifested, among other things, through a special ministry of the primacy of honor. It is clear to the Orthodox consciousness that the primacy at the level of the autocephalous Church has a special character – not only is it appropriate for bishops to ‘know the first among them and recognize him as the head’, but also the Primate of the Church ‘should not do anything without everyone's judgment’, according to Apostolic Canons. If therefore the power of primacy at the level of the autocephalous Church is limited, then it is even more so at the universal level: the primacy of honor cannot be substituted for the primacy of power,” he explained.

As the UOJ reported, on September 16, 2021, a conference on the topic of primacy and conciliarity in the Church began work in Moscow.

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