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Intra-Orthodox Schism on the Verge of Worsening

Apparently, war has been openly declared between the Patriarch of Constantinople and the Patriarchate of Moscow. Several days after the Moscow Patriarchate established a Russian exarchate in Africa, an action that provoked outrage from Patriarch Theodore of Alexandria, the Moscow Patriarchate began to seriously consider establishing a Russian exarchate in Turkey.

In an interview with Ria Novosti, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk and Chairman of the Department for External Relations of the Church (DECR) of the Moscow Patriarchate said: “The Russian Orthodox Church cannot refuse to feed the Orthodox in Turkey. These decisions were taken during the recent Holy Synod of the Russian Church.”

Referring to the recent creation of the Russian exarchate in Africa, Metropolitan Hilarion justified it by saying: “In 2019, Theodore II, Patriarch of Alexandria and all Africa, recognized the Schismatic Orthodox Church of Ukraine.”

Speaking of the consequences of this decision, the Russian Orthodox Church noted that it “could affect the care of our faithful compatriots in Africa, who live in the canonical territory of the Patriarchate of Alexandria.”

At the end of December 2021, the Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church announced the decision to establish the Patriarchal Exarchate in Africa. For the umpteenth time, Metropolitan Hilarion personally attacked Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, declaring:

“We could not say no to the clergy of the Patriarchate of Alexandria who understood the false position of their Patriarch, and agreed to be part of the ecclesiastical body of the Patriarchate of Moscow, and to return to their pastoral care, since the Patriarch of Constantinople took part in the schism.”

This comment concerns the reception of 102 priests from the Patriarchate of Alexandria into the Moscow Patriarchate on December 29, to work within the new exarchate of Africa.

The position of the Moscow Patriarchate, which ignores Canon 28 of the Council of Chalcedon on the authority of the Patriarch of Constantinople, reflects the traditional claim of the Russian Orthodox Church that Moscow is the “third Rome” and therefore plays a de facto role protective and regulatory role over the Orthodox in territories where there are no autocephalous national churches, which until now was reserved for the ecumenical patriarchs of Constantinople.

The schism between the Orthodox created by the Patriarch of Constantinople’s recognition of the Autocephalous Church of Ukraine threatens to worsen. The Russian Orthodox Church wants to create a Russian Orthodox Exarchate in Turkey that ignores the canonical authority of Patriarch Bartholomew in his own territory.


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