The decision is contained in a Declaration adopted yesterday, October 15, by the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church meeting in Minsk, Belarus, under the leadership of Patriarch Kirill, to discuss the position announced on October 11 by the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople to grant autocephaly, or independence, to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
“To our great grief”, reads the Declaration published on the website of the Patriarchate of Moscow, the members of the Holy Synod consider it impossible to continue to be in Eucharistic communion with the Patriarchate of Constantinople.
The Declaration lists the reasons that led the Russian Orthodox Church to take this decision. These include: admitting into communion “schismatics”, and “a person anathematized in another local Church”, “encroachment on someone else’s canonical regions”, and “the attempt to abandon historical decisions and commitments”. All this, affirms the Russian Orthodox Church, “leads the Patriarchate of Constantinople beyond the canonical space and, to our great grief, makes it impossible for us to continue the Eucharistic community with its hierarchy, clergy and laity. From now on, until the Patriarchate of Constantinople’s rejection of its anti-canonical decisions, it is impossible for all the clergy of the Russian Orthodox Church to concelebrate with the clergy of the Church of Constantinople and for the laity to participate in sacraments administered in its churches.”
Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, head of the Department for External Relations of the Patriarchate of Moscow, has said he hopes that “reason will prevail” and that the Patriarchate of Constantinople will change its attitude and recognize the existing ecclesiastical reality.
A decision already taken
On October 11, the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, decided to renew the decision already taken to proceed to the granting of “the autocephaly of the Church of Ukraine”.
At that time, the Holy Synod launched an appeal to all parties involved, to avoid the appropriation of churches, monasteries and other property, and to avoid any other act of violence or retaliation, “so that the peace and love of Christ may prevail”.