How the actions of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and the resignation of Metropolitan Hilarion are connected The synod of the Russian Orthodox Church warned of the dangerous consequences of decisions taken by the Ukrainian Church, resubordinated the Crimean dioceses and made a number of personnel changes. How all these events are connected, RBC analyzed called the decisions of the UOC a threat of schism” />
Meeting of the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church
Warning of a schism and resubordination of dioceses
A warning about the possibility of a split in the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate (UOC) was issued at a regular meeting of the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church, which was held on June 7 under the chairmanship of Patriarch Kirill in the Danilov Monastery in Moscow. “Unauthorized actions to change the status of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church may lead to the emergence of a new schism within it”, “the decision to change the status of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church can only be made within the framework of the canonical procedure, including the decision of the local council of the Russian Orthodox Church,” the report says. following the results of the cathedral.
On May 27, the UOC Council adopted additions and amendments to the charter of the church, “testifying to the complete independence and independence of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.” What kind of changes were adopted is still unknown, a complete list of decisions has not been published. At the same time, the council expressed “disagreement with the position of Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia regarding the war in Ukraine.”
The Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church also expressed support to all parishioners and clergy of the UOC who observe the canonical system and strive to adhere to the order determined in 1990 by the letter of Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia, and the canonical norm of commemoration during the services of the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia. The head of the UOC, Metropolitan Onufry, deviated from this norm. As Pravoslavie i Mir reported, at the first liturgy after May 27, he commemorated Patriarch Kirill among other Orthodox patriarchs, omitting the wording about “our great lord and father.” As Archpriest Andrei Novikov explained to RBC at the time, this contradicts the 15th canon of the Double Council (held in Constantinople in 861) and is equated with schismatics. This rule is also recalled in the statement of the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church, issued on June 7.
The Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church did not mention the threat of a split between the Russian Orthodox Church and the entire UOC. However, the conflict between them will intensify, political analyst Alexei Makarkin predicts. “The decision of the Synod on the Ukrainian Church showed that there will be no decisive actions, except for natural ones, such as the acceptance of the dioceses of Crimea,” says Roman Lunkin, head of the Center for the Study of Religion and Society at the Institute of Europe of the Russian Academy of Sciences.
The synod, referring to the impossibility of direct communication between the Crimean dioceses and the Kyiv metropolis of the UOC in the current conditions, decided to accept the Dzhankoy, Simferopol and Feodosia eparchies into direct canonical and administrative subordination to the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia and the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church.
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Following the Crimean ones, the question of the fate of the Donetsk and Luhansk dioceses, and then, possibly, Kherson, will arise, so the conflict between the Russian Orthodox Church and the UOC will continue, Lunkin does not exclude. An indication of the need to commemorate Cyril according to all the rules creates an interesting precedent, Makarkin noted: Onufry did not commemorate Cyril in the approved way, but retained his membership in the Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church. By pointing out the need to approve all changes in the organization of the UOC by the local council, the ROC excluded the possibility that the amendments to the charter adopted in Kyiv on May 27 would be approved.
Resignation against the backdrop of a special operation
Some personnel decisions were also made at the meeting of the Holy Synod. Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeev) was dismissed from the post of chairman of the department for external church relations (DECR). In the administrative structure of the church, the DECR is considered one of the key ones; Hilarion has headed it since 2009. During this time, he became known not only for his affairs at the head of the department (it was at the time of his leadership that the first ever meeting of the Moscow Patriarch and the Pope of Rome took place in Havana in 2016), but also for his educational activities. Metropolitan Hilarion— A fairly well-known media person, the author of numerous books on theology, in the ZhZL series he published books about Jesus Christ and Patriarch Kirill, recalls Lunkin. The metropolitan is also known as a composer: his oratorio “Passion according to Matthew” performed in Russia and the West, one of the first after the patriarch, he began to conduct a permanent program on television.
“This complements the image of Hilarion as a cultural figure, but at the same time this activity stood apart from the DECR. Perhaps, at some point, it might have seemed to the patriarch that he [Hilarion] was losing sight of important ecclesiastical and political problems in his social and cultural activities,— suggested Lunkin.— After the start of the Russian special operation in Ukraine, Metropolitan Hilarion got a little lost in the public space. The public did not hear anything from his lips, while international politics was seething, clouds were gathering over world Orthodoxy and the Moscow Patriarchate itself, which threatened a split in the church and, moreover, began to threaten Patriarch Kirill himself, his image outside of Russia, not only in unfriendly countries, but also in friendly ones.
The media, in particular Novaya Gazeta, wrote about the possible resignation of Hilarion back in 2018, when a new Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU) was established in Ukraine, which received a blessing from the Patriarch of Constantinople. According to Lunkin, four years ago there was no serious threat to the metropolitan, since it was clear that it was impossible to influence the situation and actions of Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, and the establishment of the OCU took place without the participation of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, and now it is the UOC that is at the center of events. Hilarion was chosen responsible for what is happening in the UOC, Makarkin noted. He was dismissed even without the usual expression of gratitude for such decisions, the expert draws attention.
According to the decision of the Synod, Metropolitan Hilarion was appointed to govern the Budapest-Hungarian diocese. From the post of head of the Vienna-Austrian and Hungarian dioceses, he was transferred to the post of head of the DECR. The leadership of the General Church postgraduate and doctoral studies was also removed from him, he ceased to be a permanent member of the Holy Synod.
The new head of the DECR
The post of head of the DECR will be taken by Metropolitan Anthony (Sevryuk) of Korsun and Western Europe. The 38-year-old hierarch is considered a person close to the patriarch. In 2007, he became an intern in the DECR Communications Service, when it was headed by Patriarch Kirill, and since February 2009 he has been the Patriarch's personal secretary. In monasticism, he was also tonsured by Cyril. In 2011, he was sent as a clergyman to Rome, after which almost all of Anthony's activities were connected with abroad.
The new head of the DECR has extensive experience in external church administration, including leadership of the Patriarchal Exarchate of Western Europe, the representative explained Russian Orthodox Church Vladimir Legoyda (quote from Interfax).
“He is a rather cautious person and a diplomat, not of radical views. I do not think that personnel changes— this is a sign that there will be a turn from the liberal Hilarion to a more aggressive stance. Perhaps it will be more decisive, but just as diplomatic, proceeding from the interests of the church, — suggests Lunkin and adds that the general policy of the DECR and external relations is determined by the patriarch. Anthony, the expert notes, has good connections in Italy and the Vatican.
Metropolitan Anthony has been repeatedly written about as a possible successor to the patriarch. According to Lunkin, such a development of events is unlikely both due to Anthony's age and due to the fact that until now he has mainly dealt with foreign parishes.
Curator of the military clergy
Another decision of the Synod restored the post of archpriest of the military and naval clergy, which existed before 1918, to be headed by the chairman of the synodal department for interaction with the armed forces and law enforcement agencies, Priest Oleg Ovcharov. He headed the department in May, his predecessor, Bishop Savvaty of Bronnitsky, was appointed Bishop of Bishkek and Kyrgyzstan.
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