Bother to look into our Statute: ROC responds to GOC hierarch's accusations

The building of the DECR ROC in the Danilov Monastery (Moscow). Photo: patriarhia.ru

The DECR ROC published a refutation of the accusations made against the Russian Orthodox Church by Metropolitan Gregory of Peristeri.

The Department for External Church Relations of the Russian Orthodox Church deems it necessary to refute the canonically and theologically unfounded accusations against the Russian Orthodox Church, made in an interview with Metropolitan Gregory of Peristeri of the Greek Orthodox Church to the websites "Orthodox TV" (February 5, 2022) and "Aparchi" (February 6, 2022). This is reported in a commentary of the DECR Communications Service, posted on the official website of the Department.

The DECR reports that under the pretext of an ecclesiastical canonical analysis, His Eminence the Metropolitan has spread false, slanderous accusations to the effect that the Russian Church has been preparing a “strategy” for invading the canonical territory of the other Local Orthodox Autocephalous Churches for 30 years, that it has been laying claim to universal jurisdiction in the Orthodox world, and that these ambitions are to be found in its Statute.

“The Department for External Church Relations declares with full responsibility: neither the previous nor the current version of the Statute of the Russian Orthodox Church, the text of which is in the public domain, infringe on the canonical boundaries of other Local Orthodox Churches. The current Statute of the Russian Orthodox Church lists the states included in its canonical territory: ‘The jurisdiction of the Russian Orthodox Church shall extend to persons of Orthodox confession living in the canonical territory of the Russian Orthodox Church in the Russian Federation, Ukraine, the Republic of Belarus, the Republic of Moldova, the Republic of Azerbaijan, the Republic of Kazakhstan, the People’s Republic of China, the Kyrgyz Republic, the Republic of Latvia, the Republic of Lithuania, Mongolia, the Republic of Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, the Republic of Uzbekistan, the Republic of Estonia, Japan, and also to the Orthodox Christians living in other countries and voluntarily joining this jurisdiction’," the official department comments.

The DECR notes that similar accusations by Metropolitan Gregory on the Russian Orthodox Church’s ethno-phyletism are equally unfounded and thoughtless.

“Had the metropolitan of Peristeri bothered to acquaint himself with the Statute of the Russian Church, nowhere would he have found any provisions that ‘people of Russian origin who live around the world’ belong to her jurisdiction. However, he would have found in the very first lines of this document the following words: ‘The Russian Orthodox Church is a multinational Local Autocephalous Church in doctrinal unity and in prayerful and canonical communion with other Local Orthodox Churches.' These words completely refute the absurd arguments of the Greek theologian that the Russian Orthodox Church had supposedly annulled her own autocephalous status since she allegedly does not respect the boundaries of the other Local Churches and has broken off communion with some of them,” the Russian Orthodox Church believes.

In a commentary, representatives of the Russian Orthodox Church noted that the Church respects the boundaries of the Local Orthodox Churches that have not sullied themselves by communing and concelebrating with schismatics and maintains communion with these Churches.

Employees of the DECR ROC also gave a historical note that there are no documented precedents for pan-Orthodox decisions on the temporary or permanent rescinding of autocephaly.

“The liquidation of the status of a particular Local Church – for example, on the territory of the Byzantine or Ottoman empire – was made by the secular authorities and on the basis of secular legislation,” the commentary notes.

Earlier, the UOJ wrote that the hierarch of the Orthodox Church of Greece accused the ROC of causing a split due to the establishment of the African Exarchate and proposed depriving it of its autocephaly for five years.

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